Just Ask: Returning to Consoles
Question: So, guys, I’m buying a new house that has a basement. Because my wife is awesome, she gave me the go-ahead to turn it into a man cave. I haven’t owned a console since the Nintendo 64, but I’d like to include one in my setup. Can you help? – Zach, Indianapolis
Going with the man cave theme, I’m going to rule out the Wii and upcoming Wii U for simplicity. A good rule of thumb is keeping the man cave simple…like us men. That leaves two front-runner consoles: the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. If you’re looking to buy and move in this year I would choose one of those consoles despite the rumors of new consoles down the line. Why? They’re only rumors, and Microsoft has already come out and said they plan on the 360 being relevant for 2 more years.
With new features like SmartGlass coming up and the many entertainment sources on Xbox Live I lean slightly toward an Xbox 360. Their software is integrating with a lot of things you likely already own, and the experience is becoming more complete, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only choice.
Ruling out a console that “only” functions as a console makes sense. It’s becoming standard operating procedure to intertwine consoles and streaming services – we’re getting closer to that singularity point where, if you can get high speed internet, you really don’t need all of the extra peripherals, and as a guy with 5 remote controls, not counting controllers, that’s painful for me to say. Both the PS3 and the 360 support Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime as well as their own native stores for new releases; AT&T’s UVerse service also allows you to use your 360 as a “cable box,” through the Media Center app. Pandora’s on the PS3 (and wants to be on the 360) and Last.fm is on Xbox, so with either console, you’re pretty well covered when it comes to multimedia entertainment.
Like Brandon said, though, in order to make a decision between the two you have to dig a little deeper, and it may end up being a matter of preference, so let’s look at the other, smaller details.
Getting down in the details of both of these consoles can be a daunting task. Both are great at what they do. So you need to keep in mind what you want out of your console to ultimately decide which console serves you better.
The consoles have more in common than they do separating them. Both have onboard storage drives, and XBL Gold members/PSN Plus members get cloud storage for games (500 and 150 MB, respectively). Both come with built-in WiFi and HDMI out, support Dolby Surround Sound ® and both allow storage on USB sticks. The big differences are below:
Sony Playstation 3
- High Definition Blu-ray™ player
- Up to 1080p resolution (cable sold separately)
- PlayStation Move
Microsoft Xbox 360
- Up to 1080i resolution (cable sold separately)
- Ability to network with any Vista-or-newer PCs on the same network
The PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Silver memberships are free, but for a cost, you can sign up for PlayStation Plus which gets you additional games free via download or XBL Gold, which is needed to play multiplayer online. As Justin mentioned, you will also have access to a number of services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. The standout feature between the two is the PS3′s Blu-ray player. The 360 doesn’t currently support this, but if you already have a Blu-ray player, then you’re likely not worried about that.
Xbox 360 is known for getting early looks and exclusives so, if that’s your thing, you may want to consider it. As mentioned before, one benefit the Xbox 360 does bring is the upcoming SmartGlass, but it also can already integrate with your media center to act as an entertainment hub.
The consoles are both different with pros and cons for each. So how do you decide?
Like Brandon, I lean towards the Xbox for several reasons: I already have a Blu-Ray player and, even if I didn’t, the rapid expansion of HD digital video is making me a lot less inclined to buy physical movies. Both systems have movement-based controllers, but we haven’t heard a lot from Sony regarding its Move controllers while Microsoft is clearly making the Kinect an integral part of its overall system. The easy integration between my computer and my Xbox makes it simple to stream pictures I have on my desktop to my downstairs TV, which is another big plus.
If you’re moving in this year, you’ll be well served with either the Sony PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360. We can’t recommend either the Nintendo Wii or the yet-to-be-released Wii U. One other thing to keep in mind: if there are going to be little ones in the near future who want to play with daddy, the Xbox’s Kinect, with games like Fruit Ninja, has been a big, kid-and-grandparent-friendly hit while still entertaining the heck out of the gamers.
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