Video Game Consoles: Expert and User Reviews

Updated February 28, 2014
In this report

Video Game Consoles: Ratings of Sources

1. CNET Best Video Game Consoles, CNET, Feb. 3, 2014
Credibility:
CNET reviews all of the major video game consoles, and it maintains a running list of the top video game consoles on the market. Links to longer reviews offer lots of technical information, and a succinct pro/con analysis proves helpful as well. Jeff Bakalar notes that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 remain the best values, at least until the next-generation consoles expand their game libraries.
2. PCMag.com Game Systems, PCMag.com, As of March 2014
Credibility:
PCMag.com covers video game consoles in nicely detailed single-product reviews and the occasional multisystem roundup. The Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 both earn Editors' Choice nods, and it's worth noting that the Wii U -- while earning a solid rating of 4 stars out of 5 -- does not.
3. Polygon.com Xbox One: The Review, Polygon.com
Credibility:
Editors give a highly detailed review of the Xbox One at Polygon.com, covering all major aspects of the console. Analysis here is sharp and critical, and the console receives a rating of 8 out of 10. While the page is well designed, the full-width layout may be a bit jarring for readers who are just browsing for specific information. High-res photos are abundant, and there's also a video review.
4. Polygon.com PlayStation 4: The Review, Polygon.com
Credibility:
In this highly informative review of the PlayStation 4, Polygon.com editors give the console 7.5 stars out of 10 -- a score that's a bit lower than what they give the Xbox One, thanks in part to a "distinct lack of compelling software" to go with the PlayStation 4. Hardware, user interface and features are discussed in detail, and there's also a video review.
5. Polygon.com Wii U Review, Polygon.com, Nov. 18, 2012
Credibility:
Editors at Polygon.com are particularly skeptical -- and often critical -- of the Wii U, giving it a score of 6.5 out of 10. Analysis here is in-depth, and it's easy to point out the console's highlights and shortcomings (according to the editors). There's a video review as well, and plenty of high-res photos and screenshots.
6. Engadget.com Find the Right Console (Home), Engadget.com, As of March 2014
Credibility:
The feedback at Engadget.com is a bit of a hodgepodge. Some ratings are based on solid, testing-based reviews of products including video game consoles. Others are based on reviews by other experts and users. The Sony PS4 and the Microsoft Xbox One receive staff reviews that are extensive and informative.
7. Wired Which Should You Buy: Xbox One or PlayStation 4? Yes., Wired, Nov. 22, 2013
Credibility:
Wired's Chris Kohler makes recommendations on whether you should buy a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One -- or neither -- based on specific needs and interests. Analysis and opinion is geared toward hard-core gamers. Elsewhere on the site, Kohler reviews both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One independently.
8. TheVerge.com Latest in Gaming, TheVerge.com, As of March 2014
Credibility:
TheVerge.com hosts detailed, testing-driven reviews of all the major gaming consoles, though it doesn't show much love for any. Lack of compelling game titles as well as features and functionality that aren't fully realized is why, though the editors concede that the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PS4 show great potential once those issues are overcome.
9. IGN.com PS4 vs. Xbox One vs. Wii U Comparison Chart, IGN.com, Updated November 2013
Credibility:
IGN.com reviews the three big next-generation consoles. Analysis is detailed, informative and linked to a handy comparison chart that pits the consoles side by side, making it easy to compare technical specs as well as features.
10. TechRadar.com Games Consoles Rated, TechRadar.com, As of March 2014
Credibility:
TechRadar.com is a good source to check for tech reviews, and editors cover all of the major video game consoles. This site is based in Britain, so some details might differ, but performance should be similar to that of consoles available in the U.S. There are also separate reviews for consoles' controllers and peripherals.
11. DigitalTrends.com Video Game System Reviews, DigitalTrends.com, As of March 2014
Credibility:
DigitalTrends.com offers detailed technology reviews, and most major gaming consoles are covered. Editors give nods to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, as well as the previous-generation PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The Wii U receives a solid 4 stars out of 5 as well as a Recommended badge, but falls short of being an Editors' Choice pick.
12. Arstechnica.com Opposable Thumbs/Gaming & Entertainment, Arstechnica.com, As of March 2014
Credibility:
ArsTechnica.com focuses mainly on games in its gaming-review section, but you can find editor Kyle Orland's reviews of the major video game consoles if you search for them. Each report is technically sophisticated, complete and critical. Orland is hesitant to make clear recommendations for any of the next-generation consoles, as they're still in their near-launch infancies. It's worth noting that he calls the Wii U a "legitimate contender" in the console market.
13. Amazon.com Video Games, Amazon.com, As of March 2014
Credibility:
Nearly every major video game console attracts a good number of reviews at Amazon.com, albeit sometimes in various bundles or configurations, and all earn similar overall ratings. Even so, individual reviews are helpful for uncovering long-term issues that professional reviewers might miss. Some reviews seem overly enthusiastic or a bit one-sided, so we give the most weight to reviews that offer balanced opinions.
14. BestBuy.com Video Games, BestBuy.com, As of March 2014
Credibility:
BestBuy.com is another great site for user reviews of gaming consoles. Reviews include overall ratings, as well as sub-ratings for value, performance and more. A bottom-line assessment of whether the reviewer would recommend the console to a friend is also helpful and illuminating. However, most video game systems get similar overall ratings.