Review: Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4

Nov 29, 2013 by Troy Wolverton
Xbox One

If you're a serious gamer, these are exciting days. If you're not a serious gamer, you can be excused for wondering what the fuss is all about.

After a longer-than-usual product cycle, Microsoft and Sony have finally released new . Their Xbox One and PlayStation 4, respectively, are much more powerful than their predecessors, offer some cool new features and, best of all, promise some great new experiences.

But many of the consoles' new features are simply refinements of features already present on their predecessors. Unlike previous consoles, they don't offer much that's dramatically new or different. And, as is always the case with brand-new game machines, they cost a lot of money and currently have few games available for them.

So, if you're not a serious gamer with more than $400 to burn, you're better off waiting.

The new consoles have been a long time coming. It's been seven years since Sony launched the PlayStation 3 and eight since Microsoft launched its Xbox 360.

As you might expect, the innards of the new machines have received major upgrades. Both feature speedy new processors, super-powerful graphics chips, much more memory than their predecessors, and 500-gigabyte hard drives for storing games and game data.

The Xbox One has a Blu-ray drive, something its predecessor lacked, which should allow game developers to create and store much more complicated games for the device. Meanwhile, the PlayStation 4 has an optional new dual-camera accessory that should give it some of the motion-tracking capabilities of the Xbox Kinect.

Both devices offer some new capabilities. The Xbox One can be used to watch live TV from a pay-TV service in place of a cable box. While the Xbox 360 could be used to watch TV from AT&T's Uverse service, the Xbox One can work with a wide range of television providers. At least it's supposed to. In my brief test of the Xbox One, I couldn't get the feature to work.

Both consoles allow users to interact with them using their tablets, smartphones or other devices as second screens. Users can use those screens as controllers for the games or as remote controls to switch channels or fast-forward movies. Users who own both a PlayStation 4 and a PlayStation Vita handheld system will be able to play games on the Vita that are streamed from the PlayStation 4.

And both consoles promise to make it easier for users to take videos of their gameplay and instantly upload them to game video site Twitch. While that feature has been delayed on the Xbox One until next year, gamers will be able to use a feature called "snap" to watch game videos from Twitch as they are playing a particular game. That feature could be a big help for users stuck on a particular level or sequence.

Of course, the big thing for gamers is the games themselves. In this, Microsoft appears to have an early edge, with a greater number of games available at launch and a larger number of top-tier games, including exclusives such as "Dead Rising 3."

Those games are likely to draw in the enthusiasts. But for the rest of us, there are good reasons to wait.

In terms of price per games available, consoles are never as costly as they are when they launch. Most of the few games available can be found on older consoles. And the price of the devices is at their maximum. Over time, the number of games available - including those that are exclusive to the new consoles - will grow and the sticker price of the machines will inevitably drop.

Early buyers also face the risk of choosing the wrong platform. If you get stuck with a game machine that ends up being relatively unpopular, you may not get to play certain games, or you may not get them until long after they are released for other platforms. If you wait, you can have a much better idea which console will wind up on top.

Even setting those broad issues aside, the new consoles, at least to my eye, just don't seem as compelling as their predecessors. The PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 were the first game machines that could display high-definition games, and the PlayStation 3 was the first with a built-in Blu-ray player.

Nintendo's Wii pioneered and popularized motion-controlled gaming, and Microsoft's Kinect for the Xbox 360 introduced controller-less gaming. And both Sony and Microsoft introduced features that made their consoles capable of serving as the centers of the digital living room, able to play not just games, but movies, TV shows and music.

The Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, by contrast, don't seem to offer anything on that level of innovation.

Explore further: Xbox, PlayStation tackle console launch glitches

3.4 /5 (14 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Xbox, PlayStation tackle console launch glitches

Nov 27, 2013

Move over, zombies. Step aside, terrorists. Aliens, out of the way. There are a few new foes affecting gamers that are proving to be far more destructive than any on-screen villain.

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

Nov 26, 2013

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.

New video game consoles face changed landscape

Nov 14, 2013

The last time Sony and Microsoft came out with new video game consoles, there was no iPad, the iPhone was months away and "FarmVille" and "Angry Birds" had yet to be conjured up.

Recommended for you

Tomorrow's tablets? Look, no hands

9 hours ago

Engineers in a suburban Chicago office complex have designed a new microphone that they say will be key to the future of smartphone and tablet technology because it gives consumers the ability to operate hand-held devices ...

Apple computer sells for record $905K in NY

Oct 23, 2014

One of the first Apple computers ever built has sold in New York for $905,000, leading Bonhams auction house to declare it the world's most expensive computer relic.

Review: Better cameras, less glare in iPad Air 2

Oct 22, 2014

If I've seen you taking photos with a tablet computer, I've probably made fun of you (though maybe not to your face, depending on how big you are). I'm old school: I much prefer looking through the viewfinder ...

Samsung phones cleared for US government use

Oct 21, 2014

Samsung Electronics Co. said Tuesday some of its Galaxy mobile devices were approved by the National Security Agency for use with classified U.S. government networks and data, a boost to the company's efforts to expand in ...

User comments : 0