Since the long gone days of Atari 2600 and Pong, gaming consoles have come a long way, the price going up higher and higher - causing the need for a payday advance from time to time. Nowadays we get realistic animation that is smooth and practically photo-quality high definition graphics due to the processor speeds. I mean, these software powerhouses would require a contortionist just to discover all of the functionality packed within it.
There are, however, a numerous amount of consoles for sale, all of them selling a variety of perks, making it - sometimes - hard to choose between them. But that will change. Soon you'll understand the dynamics of how the top consoles stack up against each other. Be assured, you'll know precisely which console is the best one for you.
1. Sony Playstation 3 Slim
When it comes to offering the best quality of gaming consoles to the masses, Playstation has been on top since its original release in 1994. The PS2, also known as the second generation Playstation, is still recognized as the most successful gaming console to date, and is still on the market, outselling every other gaming console in competition. It is this success that the Sony Playstation 3 builds upon.
- Full of Features. The Playstation 3 is packed full of features designed to delight a wide variety of media connoisseurs. The Playstation 3 Slim is actually the second generation Playstation 3 model, which has some design characteristics that set it apart from its predecessor.
- Energy Efficient. First of all, the new Slim version uses a lot less energy than the former “fat” version. This actually has an impact on a couple of key elements: your utility bill and placement of the device. Since the PS3 uses less energy, it emits less heat and is less prone to overheating like its power-gulping predecessor. This allows you to keep your console in your entertainment cabinet with your other peripherals instead of setting it on your floor or on an open shelf for proper ventilation.
- High-Definition Games. All of the games offered for the PS3 are in high-definition, which makes gameplay super realistic and sharp, especially when connected to a flat screen HDTV.
- Blu-ray Feature. The PS3 doubles as a Blu-ray player, which is great, but what’s even better is that the Blu-ray capabilities of this console are largely considered one of the best, which can save you quite a bit of money by not having to purchase a comparable Blu-ray device.
- Up-Converting DVD Player Feature. Additionally, the PS3 not only plays back regular DVDs, but upscales them to high-def, saving you money and space in this area as well.
- Wi-Fi Integration. The PS3 console has built-in Wi-Fi, which allows you to connect to streaming video services, the online gaming community, the Playstation Network, and the Playstation Store wirelessly, keeping cable clutter to a minimum. You can easily download content (movies, games, and more) directly to your PS3 from the Playstation Store. And Sony even added a fully functional web browser to the mix, making it easy to access your Facebook page, YouTube, or other Internet-based content in a snap. Who wouldn’t want to see their profile picture on the big screen?
- Online Player Community. What’s truly exceptional about the Playstation Network is that, unlike Xbox Live, access to the Playstation Network is free.
- Lacks Backward Capability With Previous Models. The only major flaw with the PS3 is its lack of backwards compatibility with PS2 games. Every other Playstation console has this capability, and with so many worthy PS2 games on the market today, this is problematic.
- No Infrared Remote Compatibility. While the Bluetooth connectivity of the wireless remotes isn’t really a con, the lack of an infrared detector for non-Bluetooth remotes is. This means that you are pretty much stuck buying Bluetooth remotes from Sony directly or another Bluetooth remote manufacturer, which equals more expensive remote controls.
- Lack of Maturity of Playstation Network. The Playstation Network isn’t quite as mature as Xbox Live in terms of features and connecting online players together, but it is slowly becoming a more robust experience.
- Requires the Purchase of a Stand to Be Placed Upright. In the previous version, the console was designed to be stored either horizontally or vertically, your choice. The new slim version on its own can only be placed horizontally, but Sony did decide to market a stand into which you can slide your console vertically without the worry of it tipping over.
Sony did itself a huge disservice by not making the PS3 Slim a backwards-compatible console with the PS2 platform. This would have put them well over the top of all the competing systems out there. But, that being said, the superior Blu-ray player, up-converting DVD player functionality, and wireless network capabilities makes this console a welcome addition to any multimedia-loving household.
2. Microsoft Xbox 360 Slim
Microsoft managed to release their next-generation gaming console, XBox 360 to market before Nintendo or Sony could, enlarging their strong competitive advantage - this was also their greatest claim to fame. It's popularity was catapulted to the top position of gaming systems when the addition of the XBox Live online gaming community was introduced. It's managed to live there, comfortably, for a nice amount of time, so far.
- Large Title Availability. The biggest advantage that the Xbox has over the Playstation 3 is game title availability. Maybe it’s because the Xbox was the first on the scene when it comes to high-definition video gaming, or maybe Microsoft just has a stable of prolific game writers, but whatever the reason, there are simply more titles available for the Xbox than for the PS3.
- Large Internal Memory Capacity. The large memory means that none of the 250GB of internal storage space will be wasted, as you have so many game progress files to store on it.
- Ease of Peripheral Equipment Connectivity. Microsoft has also packed this particular device with five USB ports, making the addition of peripheral equipment extremely easy.
- Quiet Operation. This device has been highly touted as the quietest operating gaming unit on the market today. This is a really great feature, especially for those who are easily distracted by the hum of a whirling game, DVD, or Blu-ray disc.
- Blu-ray Player Feature. Of course, the Xbox 360 Slim, like the PS3 doubles as both a Blu-ray player and an up-converting DVD player, which means that there’s a lot less clutter under your TV.
- Integrated Wi-Fi. This console comes with built-in Wi-Fi, a fully functional web browser, access to Xbox Live online gaming community (for a fee), and an insane optical digital audio function that pushes your TV speakers to their limits.
- Overheating Issues. In the early days, Xbox 360 was plagued by overheating units that caused catastrophic failure in one out of every four units. The Xbox 360 Slim has added a better cooling function, but even this may not be enough to prevent the “red ring of death.”
- Proprietary Hard Drive. Additionally, unlike the PS3, the hard drive in the Xbox 360 is proprietary. This means that unless you plan on replacing your existing 250GB hard drive with a larger Xbox 360 hard drive, you can’t replace it at all.
- Unwieldy External Power Supply. Microsoft also didn’t do anything about the clunky exterior power supply. It’s there, it’s ugly, and there’s nothing you can do about it but try to hide it behind your TV stand.
- No Included HDMI Cables. Lastly, Microsoft got a little stingy and didn’t include any HDMI cables in the box, so if true high-def gaming is what you seek, plan on buying your own HDMI cable.
The Xbox 360 Slim is very similar to the original Xbox 360 console, so if Xbox is your thing, I wouldn’t replace your existing system with this one, unless your three-year warranty against the red ring of death is about to expire - otherwise, I wouldn't suggest you spending emergency cash if it's not a strong desire. The availability of game titles and the quality of the Xbox Live online gaming network are the real claims to fame for the Xbox 360, giving it a slight edge over its competition – at least, if these are attributes that you value in a gaming system.
3. Nintendo 3DS
It's obvious that the Nintendo 3DS, the newest addition of its best-selling DS series, is no slouch. After all, Nintendo has been the leader in portable gaming consoles for some time now. Surprising most, the no-glasses required 3D gaming experience they offer is better than expected.
- Good 3D Gaming Functionality. The main claim to fame for this particular system is its ability to produce a good 3D gaming experience, no glasses required. I love the fact that Nintendo added a 3D “slider” that allows each gamer to adjust the 3D experience to their own preferences, and even remove it if they so choose. This feature helps reduce eye strain during game play.
- 3D Picture-Taking Functionality. Not only does the 3D functionality work well during gaming, but the pictures you can take with the rear facing cameras can also be displayed in 3D.
- Integrated Wi-Fi. You also get integrated Wi-Fi to facilitate both Internet browsing and access to the eShop for game downloads and Netflix streaming video service.
- Easy Recharging. The other notable addition is the ability to “drop and dock,” which makes recharging the relatively short-lasting battery both faster and more stylish than using the previous versions’ AC adapter cable.
- Backwards Compatibility. This unit is also backwards compatible with all of the existing DS game libraries, so you won’t have to replace all your existing games with their new 3D counterparts. And, of course, the price drop from $299 was a welcome surprise.
- Expandable Memory. The expandable memory slot allows you to access audio files for music playback, and the 3DS has a microphone that allows you to create your own audio files for playback.
- Wide Range of Preloaded Software. The preloaded software allows your 3DS to not only recognize Wi-Fi hotspots, but to also “sniff out” other 3DS consoles within certain proximity and “invite” the other players into multi-player game play. This is actually a really cool feature, since most of the portable gaming devices have been a solo game playing endeavor.
- Lack of 3D Titles. Thank goodness this unit has a backwards compatibility function because the existing library of 3D games is lackluster.
- Eye Strain Issues. While the 3D game play feature is awesome and amazing for some, it can cause eye strain and headaches for others. I would definitely advise potential customers to take this one on a test drive before diving in head first.
- Short Battery Life. The battery is extremely short-lived. I’m not sure what the issue is, though I imagine the energy needed to produce the 3D image must be placing a strain on the battery, which is no doubt the same model found in the 2D versions that have been on the market for some time.