Bill's 2010 Holiday Buying Guide - Console Edition

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/buckman/public_html/neo/modules/advanced_forum/advanced_forum.module on line 492.
Bill Loguidice's picture

Since other media outlets have had to fulfill their apparent obligation this holiday season like every holiday season to recommend what to buy and why, I thought I would join in on the fun, with the big difference with my guide being that I actually own and use all of the systems in question, so I'm not just talking out of a hypothetical butt like some others do. Allegedly. Now here's a bad cell phone photo of my three consoles as evidence (you're welcome in advance for the bikini snow angel):

I'll talk about the systems in order of their initial release. Don't agree with any of this? Take it to the comments!

Xbox 360
For those where online gaming and interactions are important, the Xbox 360 is hard to beat, though its base cost is not as competitive as it should be compared to what you get standard on the PS3.

Pros:

  • Very strong game line up with a nice mix of game types
  • Relatively easy to use interface
  • Often the lead platform on multi-platform games, so it often has the best versions
  • Xbox Live, which is a wonderfully unified online service with rich social interaction possibilities, achievements, etc., by far the best online structure in consoles
  • Via Xbox Live, free demos of pretty much everything and access to a wide variety of downloadable games
  • Great controller (see Cons)
  • Supports up to 1080p and digital surround sound, has built-in HDMI and optical audio ports, and even has an optional VGA connection available
  • Upscales DVDs
  • Supports Netflix in HD
  • Wireless N support now built-in
  • Supports Kinect, which is arguably the most revolutionary motion controller to date and is a more natural way to play many games, particularly dance and fitness titles
  • Streams media from USB and PCs; has Windows Media Center integration
  • Supports Facebook, Last.FM, ESPN Streaming and other services
  • Can universally play your own music in the background of any game
  • Supports USB keyboards for data entry
  • Support for 3D TVs for compatible games
  • Cons:

  • Xbox Live requires a paid subscription to get at anything remotely good
  • No Blu-ray support
  • Terrible d-pad on the controller (latest model of the controller - which is available separately - has a new type of d-pad that fixes some of the issues, but this is not yet standard)
  • Cost of Kinect is very high and as an add-on will never be very well supported
  • Units with decent size hard drives are pricey
  • Does not have 100% backwards compatibility with Xbox 1 games; No support for Xbox 1 controllers or accessories
  • Reliability of the older Xbox 360 models was always suspect (the new models seem to be quite reliable so far)
  • No Web browser
  • PlayStation 3
    Besides offering a nice combination of much of what the Wii and 360 offers, it's hard to ignore the fact that the PS3 also makes a great Blu-ray player. As a pure games machine, though, it's not quite at the level of the Xbox 360, particularly in the area of online support.

    Pros:

  • Very strong game line up with a nice mix of game types
  • Most online activities are free; Premium online service is truly optional and includes free games every month that remain valid as long as you're a subscriber
  • Plays Blu-rays and upscales DVDs
  • Best overall support for Neflix in HD, with improved sound in some cases (at the moment) over the Xbox 360
  • Supports Hulu Plus, MLB.TV and NHL GameCenter subscriptions
  • Has a Web browser
  • Offers a free pseudo-Second Life-like virtual environment (PlayStation Home)
  • Supports the Folding@Home project
  • Supports up to 1080p and digital surround sound, and has built-in HDMI and optical audio ports
  • Streams media from USB and PCs
  • Popular controller format
  • Supports bluetooth keyboards, USB keyboards and printers, and bluetooth headsets
  • Supports Move, which is a slightly more sophisticated variation of Nintendo's Wii Motion Plus
  • Support for 3D TVs for both compatible games and movies
  • Cons:

  • Interface takes some getting used to, with some important features buried in sub-menu after sub-menu
  • Game installs can take a long time
  • Updates and patches, which are frequent, can take a long time
  • Online system is still half-baked in comparison to Xbox Live, with only partial achievements and uniformity
  • Motion controls in DualShock have seen little use
  • Units with decent size hard drives are pricey
  • Does not have 100% backwards compatibility with PS2/PS1 games; limited support for PS2/PS1 controllers and accessories
  • Rechargeable controllers (with no user replaceable battery) are annoying if you don't remember to charge them
  • Nintendo Wii
    I'd say the Wii offers the most distinct alternative for those who are primarily high-end PC gamers. It's also a good choice for those with old TV's or who want a companion system for an Xbox 360 or PS3. While the PS3 and, particularly the Xbox 360, offer a nice selection of classic games, Nintendo has the only offering with a large selection of classic Nintendo platforms and titles.

    Pros:

  • It's relatively inexpensive
  • It has Nintendo games on it
  • It has a wide variety of game types and many games not featured on other platforms that might appeal to a wider demographic
  • It has a strong vintage games library featuring a nice range of classic systems
  • The online service is free
  • The interface is clean and straightforward
  • Supports Netflix
  • Works great on your old standard definition television
  • Universal support for its stock motion controller
  • Near 100% backwards compatibility with GameCube games, controllers and memory cards
  • Supports USB keyboards for data entry
  • Best selection of light gun-style games
  • Has a Web browser
  • Cons:

  • Does not support high definition or digital surround sound (analog surround sound supported) and can look bad on larger high definition televisions
  • Widescreen support is not 100%
  • Does not play DVD videos
  • Way too high of a ratio of crappy licensed games and quick cash-ins, particularly of the mini-game variety; multi-platform games are often given the shaft in their Wii iterations
  • Games that only support the original motion controller do not always control like you want them to
  • Even with Motion Plus, the Wii does not offer the same potential level of sophistication that Kinect or Move do (though it now has the advantage of being included with every new Wii, so it will receive greater support than either of those other two)
  • No mass storage other than SD cards and no way to cleanly integrate what's on the SD card and in the Wii's memory in the main menu
  • Far fewer media and media integration options than the competition
  • Not many games have online multiplayer support, particularly in regards to the competition
  • Online in general does not encourage much social interaction
  • Standard controller and nunchuk not necessarily ideal for some types of traditional games
  • Bottom line, it's about the games, stupid. So if you take a look at each system's combination of boxed games and downloadable offerings and determine that that's the system for you, then hey, that is in the fact the system for you. If it's close, maybe some of the extra features might be the deciding factor, the total cost to get all of the features you're after, or perhaps what most of your friends have. In short, there's no right answer for everyone and it's hard to go wrong with any of the three if you go into the purchase aware of the limitations.

    Happy holidays and good luck shopping!

    Comments

    Chad (not verified)
    Fantastical Write Up

    Although, how are you sure that Kinect will never be very well supported?

    Bill Loguidice
    Bill Loguidice's picture
    Offline
    Joined: 12/31/1969
    Exactly
    Chad wrote:

    Although, how are you sure that Kinect will never be very well supported?

    We don't know how Kinect or Move will be supported. Only time will tell. The only motion control option that is guaranteed to receive support is the stock Wii Remote and now, Wii Motion Plus, since it's being bundled with the system in addition to several popular games. If you're going to buy an Xbox 360 or PS3, it has to be for a reason other than their motion gaming options at this point. Some ARE buying an Xbox 360/Kinect bundle, for instance, expressly for Kinect (my sister, as one example, and it will be her first ever console), but that's obviously not very cost effective to do it specifically for that at this point, even if the intended usage is mostly dance and fitness games.

    n/a
    clok1966
    Offline
    Joined: 01/21/2009
    I think Kinect should do well

    I think Kinect should do well really, million units in stores in 5 days (sold means at retailers for MS (and most others). MS predicts 5 million by Christmas. Thats alot of early adaptors looking for something to play. Support, I think is a non issue right now, there will be games, and older games made to work with it. The quality hof the games, now that is another discussion completley.

    Mark Vergeer
    Mark Vergeer's picture
    Offline
    Joined: 01/16/2006
    Pc Gamer with problems

    I was a home computer and PC Gamer who moved into console gaming and back but ended up preferring the hassle free console environment pretty much exactly like Bill's experience and point of view.
    Only recently my preference for console gaming over PC gaming has rekindled due to my totally unforeseen problems trying to install that free Lord of the Rings online game. I do know what I am doing but for some reason I am hitting a snag preventing me from logging in. The companies website doesn't help me nor does the online help facility.
    I am far from a newbie when it comes to computers and various operating systems and because of my unhappy experiences installing PC games - refusing to activate or claiming that they are illegal because of malfunctioning rootkits and copy protection schemes that seem more like viral infections than anything else - I tend to gravitate towards consoles more then ever.
    The only recently installed PC games not giving me problems are Steam purchases and GOG games and the Indie games - Chip Hageman is pointing out in his marvelous posts.

    For me the PC is great for DRM-free Indie games which sadly are missing from the Dutch 360 Library even though we are exposed to ads on them. And emulating older systems....

    n/a
    Bill Loguidice
    Bill Loguidice's picture
    Offline
    Joined: 12/31/1969
    Well said, Mark. And the idea

    Well said, Mark. And the idea that somehow console experiences are watered down have long been squashed, particularly this generation. There's parity across all three HD platforms, PS3, 360 and PC. It's great when you can own as many current systems as possible. Heck, even though I'm down on the Wii lately, it still has those irresistible first party Nintendo games...

    n/a
    msimplay
    Offline
    Joined: 10/07/2010
    The Wii for me

    I love Nintendo and it's first party games but since Nintendo went the innovative route which means that my Wii and 360 get about equal play time.

    This is the generation I really only wanted one console but I can't not play Nintendo games because I love the first party games.

    However the 360 represents more of the games I traditionally liked such as Street Fighter 4 , the Super Street Fighter HD remix,
    The up coming Marvel Vs Capcom 3.
    Good for shmups and fighters plus it has major support from all of the 3rd parties.

    The PS3 came out in last place for me simply because it costs a whole lot more than the 360 and the experience is extremely similar.
    I don't really care for the Bluray at the moment because they are too expensive and HD well that doesn't bother me too much either.
    PC games have had HD for years even during the Xbox / PS2 / Gamecube era.
    Also the graphics have always been better on PC's quality of the games is where it is for me.

    I bought my Arcade Xbox for something like 100 pounds which is cheaper than my Wii which I had on the release day.
    I find it difficult justifying purchasing that console when most games are either the same on 360 as the PS3 or sometimes better.

    I don't mean this to turn into PS3 bashing but that's just how I work plus I'm trying to reduce clutter I don't want loads of consoles / games in my room anymore =P

    Bill Loguidice
    Bill Loguidice's picture
    Offline
    Joined: 12/31/1969
    Eizo Announces First 23-inch Glasses-Free 3D Monitor

    It's ugly as all get out, but THIS is what we're talking about (reminds me a bit of the glasses free 3D laptop from about five years back, though of course that had a thin bezel): http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/eizo_announces_first_23-inch_glass...

    Give this a few years of refinement and it will be both functional AND attractive. THIS is what we'll all be having in our computing devices and living rooms within 10 years.

    n/a
    Mark Vergeer
    Mark Vergeer's picture
    Offline
    Joined: 01/16/2006
    This is it!
    Bill Loguidice wrote:

    It's ugly as all get out, but THIS is what we're talking about (reminds me a bit of the glasses free 3D laptop from about five years back, though of course that had a thin bezel): http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/eizo_announces_first_23-inch_glass...

    Give this a few years of refinement and it will be both functional AND attractive. THIS is what we'll all be having in our computing devices and living rooms within 10 years.

    Creepy looking black box that monitor is but THIS is indeed something I've been waiting for!

    n/a

    Comment viewing options

    Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.