Contents[Hide]

Video Game Consoles

Video games have become as diverse as the audience they serve: across the world, people from toddlers to adults are enjoying video games.  Names like Atari and Pong are simply nostalgic memories for some, but their progeny are reaching greater and greater heights.  Below are some pointers and a run-down of the hottest consoles of this generation.

Brand

The console wars between Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are fought with aggressive brand positioning and exclusive video game franchises. Die-hard fans of Halo  and Project Gotham Racing  (PGR) can only play these games on Microsoft Xbox  consoles. Nintendo exclusively developed the Mario Bros. gaming franchise for its GameCube ,Wii   and DS  systems. This restrictive quality of non-compatible platforms that has forced down the prices of gaming systems. In fact, most companies lose money on consoles and make up for that deficit in game sales.

Design

The slimmest of the three "next generation" consoles is the Nintendo Wii . It stands both horizontally and vertically, like the PS3  and the Xbox 360 . The Wii comes in five different colours (black, white, silver, green and red), with a matching coloured controller. The PS3 comes in a sleeker colour array of white, silver and black. The Xbox 360 comes in either a chrome finish or in plastic. However, there are interchangeable face plates that feature fun colours and designs, available for purchase separately.

Controller

Xbox 360's controllers come wired or wireless depending on the model. The wireless version (2.5 GHz) lasts up to 25 hours on the rechargeable batteries. Both versions allow for headset connectivity. The PS3's controller resembles the PS2 -style Dual Shock 2 . The Wii's controller is by far the strangest to date. It is wireless with motion sensor technology, and it looks like a TV remote control. The button arrangement has been kept to look and feel the same as its predecessors, but what sets this design apart is that it can work horizontally or vertically. That means it can be used like both a standard controller or double as a gun/pointer. It also has its own speaker. For multi-player gaming action, the winner is PS3 supporting up to seven players (via Bluetooth); Wii supports four and Xbox 360 supports three via USB 2.0.

Speed and Power

While the Xbox 360 and PS3 are supposed to be on the same plane as far as system power goes, the Wii is only slightly more advanced than the original Xbox. Nintendo isn't targeting high-end graphics lovers with its new console, instead placing more of an emphasis on creative gameplay techniques.

Memory/Media

The Wii uses proprietary optical CDs and will not be able to support DVDs, unlike like the 360, which supports CDs and DVDs in a range of formats including WMA and MP3s. The PS3 will be unique in that it will not only support CDs and DVDs like the PS2 and PS1, but it will use Blu-ray Discs as its main game media. As far as memory, the PS3 supports both type 1 and 2 CompactFlash, SD cards and Memory Sticks. There is also an MMC slot and a detachable hard drive. The Wii supports SD flash memory as well.

Backward Compatibility

This essentially means that the system is able to play games from the older generation systems. The Xbox 360 is partially compatible, while the PS3 and Wii are fully compatible. The Wii boasts a full range of backward compatibility for games, cables, controllers, and memory cards. The slot-loading Wii takes all size discs unlike the others, which makes it able to play GameCube  and Wii games and DVDs. What makes the Wii stand out even more is that it has a "virtual console," with games dating back to the original NES. For a small fee, players can download old favorites.

Game Console vs. PC Gaming

What is nice about owning a video game console instead of simply playing PC games  is newer consoles can be fully integrated into your home entertainment system, complete with surround sound . They are easier to install since all you have to do is plug them in and get to button mashing. There is no more worrying with consoles, as there is with PC gaming, about whether your graphics card  or sound card is going to have the necessary capabilities to make the game worthwhile. All consoles come with integrated sound and graphic chips and the best of the newest models can support HD (High Definition) graphics. Plus, there is less time to wait for games to load and you can play with two people more comfortably than if you were sitting in front of a computer. Some models even have four-player capability.

Xbox 360

So far, the 360 has proved to be slightly lackluster for some, especially since the "Core System " is devoid of all the really cool stuff that the Xbox 360  advertises, such as the headset for Xbox Live, the detachable 20 GB hard drive, wireless controllers and the cable for HD video connectivity. That means you have to dish out the extra cash for the Premium Edition if you want in on the advanced features.

  • The hard drive is the only way to get backward compatibility, which allows it to plays some but not all old games. It also serves as a place for storing movies, music and photos.
  • Xbox Live allows gamers to interact online with other players. Depending on your membership, either gold or silver, you may be able to play games online as well.
  • One special thing that the Xbox 360 has is an easy-to-use interface, called the "dashboard," where you can access saved games and the Live arcade, Xbox Live connection, system configurations and access to information stored in the hard drive or on other connected devices, such as music, movies and photos.
  • A universal media remote is included with the system.
  • Two configurations: the standard Core System and the Premium Edition  (£210 and £280).

Playstation 3

DUE OUT MARCH 2007

For many, the Playstation consoles have long been the best console out there, not just for their games (up to 150 ready for the PS3 launch already, three times the number available for Xbox), but also for their speed and graphics. Sony has made claims that the PS3 will be far more powerful than the Xbox.

  • One of the best features of the PS3 is its decentralised online gaming network that allows gamers to pick and choose games they want from individual companies, versus only getting a limited selection, as with the Xbox Live.
  • Another fascinating thing about the PS3 is the switch to Blu-ray discs that boast massive amounts of storage.
  • Available next March, a unit with a 20 GB hard drive included will cost €499, and a 60 GB unit will be €599.
  • For the official specifications see PlayStation 3 .

Wii

Above all, the most appealing thing about the Nintendo Wii  is probably its £179 price tag, which is far less than its competition. The Wii looks like it will pose a significant challenge to Sony and Microsoft with its innovative design.

  • The different thing about this console is not just its crazy new Wiimote controller but its beefed-up graphics, even though the Wii does not support HD technology, which both Microsoft and Sony have on their systems.
  • Its WiFi connectivity is comparable to Xbox Live. Gamers can download every Nintendo game ever created and play online.
  • Available since December 8, the system costs £179. The package includes a controller and the game Wii Sports.
  • For the official specifications, see Nintendo's Web site.

Related Products

Microsoft Xbox 

PSP 

PlayStation

Nintendo Wii