Gift Guide: PS4, Xbox 1 won't disappoint gamers

Nov 26, 2013 by Lou Kesten

The game consoles have landed. Millions of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners are getting their first taste of what to expect from this new generation of high-powered video games.

Perhaps you weren't one of those eager fans who waited in line at midnight to get first crack at the new consoles. Perhaps there's a gamer in your family who would love to unwrap a shiny new machine on Christmas morning. So you're wondering: Which console to buy?

Our verdict, after playing with both devices for a couple of weeks: Either way, you can't lose.

Both are first-rate game players that bring cutting-edge computer graphics to your living room. Both come with plenty of games to choose from. Both hold the promise of delivering state-of-the-art entertainment for years.

But there are differences. The obvious distinction is price: Sony's PlayStation 4 retails for $400, $100 less than Microsoft's Xbox One.

The primary reason for that price difference is the Kinect camera and microphone that comes with every Xbox One. Microsoft wants it to be the center of everything you do in your media room, not just games where you wave your arms around a lot. The device, an update of the Kinect that was sold separately for the Xbox 360, now understands a wide range of verbal commands, so you can change cable channels, launch Skype calls and find movies and music without ever touching a controller.

It's a nifty chunk of technology, but it's not for everyone. In this age of surveillance, people might be uncomfortable with having a camera pointed at them all the time—though Microsoft assures us that it won't be snooping.

The PlayStation 4 is less ambitious. First and foremost, it's a game player, and you operate it the old-fashioned way: by pressing buttons on a controller you hold in your hands.

That said, the PS4 doesn't skimp on non-gaming activities. You can also use it to watch movies from such services as Netflix and Hulu Plus or to listen to tunes from Sony's Music Unlimited.

Although both can do much more, the PS4 and the Xbox One are ultimately video-, with the emphasis on games. The current Xbox One lineup is slightly more impressive, thanks to the presence of the stellar racing game "Forza Motorsport 5." But many games are available for both systems, including the latest entries in the popular "Call of Duty," ''Madden NFL" and "Assassin's Creed" franchises.

In a way, choosing a console now is like placing a bet on the future, especially as neither device can play software created for older systems—namely, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Sony has already announced new "Uncharted" and "InFamous" games for the PS4. Microsoft is expected to continue the "Halo" epic on the Xbox One. Microsoft also has a potential blockbuster exclusive with "Titanfall," a robot battle from the creators of the landmark "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare."

But most games from outside publishers, including Activision, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft, will be available on both systems. Whatever "Grand Theft Auto V" publisher Rockstar Games comes up with next, you can be sure it will want to make it available to as wide an audience as possible. So you'll be fine with either the PS4 or the Xbox One.

What about the Wii U, you ask? Nintendo's console beat both PS4 and Xbox One to the market, but it has stumbled through its first year. It's not a bad machine, but it doesn't deliver the visual razzle-dazzle of the PS4 or Xbox One. Its graphics are closer to what the PS3 and Xbox 360 delivered several years ago.

The Wii U's biggest drawback is its relatively scrawny software lineup, with most of 2013's best games available only on Sony or Microsoft consoles.

In the past, Nintendo has made up the difference with its roster of homegrown icons—the likes of Mario, Zelda and Metroid. But in 2013, the company delivered just two marquee-worthy Wii U games, "Super Mario 3D World" and "Pikmin 3."

At $300, the Wii U is the cheapest of the three major consoles. But don't be tempted. Sure, there's a chance that Nintendo will turn around its momentum and get back to publishing good games on a regular schedule. Until then, an awful lot of Wii Us are going to be gathering dust.

If you or someone on your holiday shopping list just wants to play state-of-the-art games, the PS4 is a fine choice. If you buy into Microsoft's vision of controlling your entire entertainment system with just the sound of your voice, the Xbox One is worth the extra $100. Either way, you won't be disappointed.

Explore further: Sony sells more than a million PS4 consoles in debut

3.2 /5 (6 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Japan's digital eyes show your emotions for you

Apr 21, 2014

Can't be bothered to show anyone what you're thinking? Then a Japanese scientist has the answer—a pair of digital eyes that can express delight and anger, or even feign boredom.

Review: With Galaxy S5, Samsung proves less can be more

Apr 20, 2014

Samsung Electronics Co. has produced the most formidable rival yet to the iPhone 5S: the Galaxy S5. The device, released over the weekend, is the fifth edition of the company's successful line of Galaxy S ...

Five features an Amazon phone might offer (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

A report this week in The Wall Street Journal that Amazon is planning to release a smartphone has prompted industry analysts and technology blogs to muse about what the device might offer.

User comments : 0

More news stories

SK Hynix posts Q1 surge in net profit

South Korea's SK Hynix Inc said Thursday its first-quarter net profit surged nearly 350 percent from the previous year on a spike in sales of PC memory chips.

FCC to propose pay-for-priority Internet standards

The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new open Internet rules that would allow content companies to pay for faster delivery over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes.

Brazil enacts Internet 'Bill of Rights'

Brazil's president signed into law on Wednesday a "Bill of Rights" for the digital age that aims to protect online privacy and promote the Internet as a public utility by barring telecommunications companies ...

Is nuclear power the only way to avoid geoengineering?

"I think one can argue that if we were to follow a strong nuclear energy pathway—as well as doing everything else that we can—then we can solve the climate problem without doing geoengineering." So says Tom Wigley, one ...

When things get glassy, molecules go fractal

Colorful church windows, beads on a necklace and many of our favorite plastics share something in common—they all belong to a state of matter known as glasses. School children learn the difference between ...

FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes

The federal government wants to prohibit sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.