Parents and grandparents who waited until this final shopping weekend before Christmas to grab either Sony’s Playstation 4, or Microsoft’s Xbox One are likely oblivious to the brand war they’ve enlisted in.
For the uninitiated, we put together a straggler’s guide to the new high tech gaming consoles, pitting the units head-to-head to see which will put a smile on that special someone’s face.
Will the game console be sitting in a family room or in a teenager’s room? Both systems are fairly large and boxy, but the Xbox One has been derided for its resemblance to an 1980s-era VCR. (Millennials: VC-what?)
The PS4 comes in a more aesthetically-pleasing package that is likely to fit better in the living room of your average gaming adult.
Verdict: The PS4 case looks comparatively leaner than its competitor, which could make a difference if your entertainment center is already loaded with devices.
The Xbox’s One’s heftier $499.99 retail price can be attributed to its new bells and whistles: new powerful gaming processors, Kinect camera that follows voice and hand commands, and a new Blu-Ray player that its predecessor, the 360, didn’t have.
The PS4, by contrast, operates on less gimmicks than the Xbox One and already has a Blu-Ray drive. More importantly it comes in at $100 less. Gaming veterans know that cost can make all the difference in who is eventually crowned king.
Verdict: $100 doesn’t seem like much, but the lower price could offer a more affordable alternative for parents watching their checkbooks.
Did you know the future isn’t about flying cars, jet packs or death rays? Nope. Apparently the future is all about voice commands. Both systems allow users to control their systems using only their voice. But this is the centerpiece of the Xbox’s new system. Simply saying “Xbox on” turns the unit on, though sometimes it doesn’t work so simply. The interactive Kinect camera also allows you to use your hand to thumb through your apps (Imagine Tom Cruise in “Minority Report”
Verdict: Surely the Kinect camera and always-on mic scream publicity stunt, but it brings a fascinating, if imperfect technology, to the masses.
Edge: Xbox One
Anyone who has passed by a gamer playing “Grand Theft Auto” “Call of Duty” or “Madden” have probably mistaken the game for live TV. As gaming technology improves, once cartoonish faces now resemble photographs as the line between real life and video make-believe continues to blur.
While we haven’t yet seen the best of either system, both show great promise. In Xbox One’s exclusive “Ryse: Son of Rome,” game makers are able to capture not just the blood lust of ancient battle, but also the watery eyes of a battle-weary Roman commander. We are truly living in the future.
It’s bad enough that the new systems won’t play games you just bought for your older system. What’s worse is the hardware you’re purchasing is useless without Internet access. Verdict: These systems, which allow users to download game add-ons, require almost constant access to the Internet. If the household you’re buying it for doesn’t have web access, you may want to hold off until it does.
Perhaps the most important question when purchasing the system: Who am I buying this for? Is it for a tech-savvy kid/young adult who will make great use of its gaming/ TV/music apps? Will it be used by small children only for video gaming? Or will it be shared by the entire family?
PS4 gets a thumbs up for its ease of use and its simple, practical operation. The Xbox One, on the other hand, with its voice and hand commands can seem a bit complicated. A Christmas morning scene sure to be repeated across North America.