Xbox 360, Wii, PS3 – Three Game Console Profiles
The big three game consoles are in the thick of marketplace battle right now. Are you considering a console purchase for your self or for a gift? Here's where the three shake out these days and specifically how well they work as the control center for your entertainment system.
Which one is the best may not be as important as which one is best for you. So, we'll take a close look at the economic sense behind each console, as well as its primary draws and flaws.
Are you ready to shell out for a PS3 Blu-ray player in order to see all those shades of hazel in Tom Cruise's eyes, or are you more interested in swinging a Wiimote and watching a potato-head-like character throw a strike onscreen?
Standard Issue: Hard drive, two free games, wireless controller, headset
Top Games: Gears of War, Rainbow Six: Vegas, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter
Marketing Target: Hardcore (online) gamers, home theater enthusiasts
Economic Synopsis: The Microsoft Xbox 360 is a powerful machine. Although it launched a full year ahead of Sony's PlayStation 3, it can match the competition in graphics and just about anything else. That will cost the gamer 400 big ones, and to get online to partake in some trash-talking Gears of War, players will need to shell out an additional $50 a year. It's not the most expensive way to game right now, but at the moment all those dollars get the hardcore gamers - those interested in brilliant graphics, proven gameplay elements and fantastic online support - the best experience possible.
Big Draw: Although it'll cost you, Microsoft's Xbox Live online community is unparalleled by the competition. It's easy to get online, even easier to find a match and pretty much a given that a seventeen-year-old dishwasher will school you in NHL 07. In addition, the $199 HD DVD add-on is a sensible choice for upgrading to high definition movies.
Big Flaw: Economically, it doesn't add up so well. The other two systems, although offering far inferior support, have free online communities. Beyond that, aside from graphics and proven gameplay, the Xbox 360 doesn't really try anything new.
Cost: NOW $499 (while supplies last)
Standard Issue: 60 GB hard drive (under the hood), wireless controller
Top Games: Resistance: Fall of Man, Need for Speed: Carbon, Motorstorm
Marketing: Hardcore gamers, home theater enthusiasts
Economic Synopsis: Believe it or not, the astronomically-priced PlayStation 3 does offer its own freakish bargain. For those willing to shell out the money - and those faithful that titles greater than (shudder) Need for Speed: Carbon will arrive - the PS3 certainly does offer a boatload of technology. For one, there's the sheer power; the Cell processor ensures that games will look fantastic on this console for years. Second, the internal Blu-ray player is worth $1,000 itself, so if you're interested in high definition movies and gaming, look no further.
Big Draw: Undoubtedly, a history of gaming excellence and the inclusion of Blu-ray. Sony has "pwned" the console market for years, and there's little doubt it will continue the glory as 2007 progresses. Also, Blu-ray offers phenomenally crisp images and its inclusion here makes the system a real bargain (believe it or not).
Big Flaw: Right now, no games, no glory. That isn't surprising for a launch system, but considering the sharing of key exclusives (Grand Theft Auto IV, Assassin's Creed) with Xbox 360, the future may not be the glowing paradise Sony fanboys are hoping for. Unfortunately, the only buyers right now are the freakishly faithful and those interested in Blu-ray.
Standard Issue: "Wiimote", Motion Sensitivity Bar, Nunchuk, Wii Sports
Top Games: Wii Sports, Zelda: Twilight Princess, Warioware: Smooth Moves
Marketing: Casual gamers
Economic Synopsis: For gamers who want to try something new and simply aren't interested in making a game console the center of their home theater, the Wii is a great bet. It's best placed in an already-equipped home theater or bedroom (high definition not required since the Wii is 480p). However, if you're looking to build a gaming-oriented home theater for as little as possible, the Wii isn't such a bargain. Unlike the PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, it offers no high resolution playback, be it in Zelda or Mission Impossible III. With regards to the latter, the Wii is so directly intended for gaming that it won't even play standard DVDs. Ouch.
Big Draw: Duh, the motion sensitive gameplay. In case you haven't heard, swing the Wiimote, swing the bat onscreen. It's simple, often doesn't require great athleticism and appeals to the casual player far more than Halo 2 marathoners.
Big Flaw: If we're approaching this from a home theater angle, the Wii is a very poor choice. The $249 gets you no DVD playback and no high definition. That's not exceptionally economical, unless you're completely won over by the "flick-the-wrist" gameplay Nintendo is offering.
Since this is a guide to building an economical home theater, we'll have to drop the lower-priced Nintendo Wii down to third place. Sure, $249 is a great deal when arranging a basic bedroom game of Wii Sports (on a standard definition TV), but for multimedia purposes it's a loser.
Xbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3, the eternal war (well, for the next three or four years)
The real debate lies between Sony and Microsoft. Both offer phenomenal graphics, both have HD playback (PS3 right out of the box), and both have great online communities / downloads. In the world of home theaters, those are all useful elements.
The ultimate decision on these two depends on very small niche factors, like online play and the types of games you're interested in. Since they're both about $600 after Xbox 360 owners purchase the HD DVD add-on, the cost question is a draw. Gamers looking for the ultimate online experience and a proven library of titles, and who trust HD DVD can someday match Blu-ray titles, Microsoft has what you're looking for.
Those buying the PS3 right now are gambling; exclusive hits are few and far between for Sony. Still, Blu-ray is currently taking over the HD market, making it a good call for movie fans. An HDMI port offering the highest possible (1080p) resolution is a serious bonus.