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Xbox One Editions

Take your gaming skills to a whole new level with Xbox. Featuring innovative game consoles, plus Xbox Live, and the most sought-after game titles and accessories, Xbox make it easy to immerse yourself in all the action. Discover just a few of the ways Microsoft make it possible.

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Xbox One vs. PS4

PlayStation 4 review: Great gaming for 2016 and beyond

THE GOOD The PlayStation 4 serves up dazzling graphics, runs on a simplified and logical interface and boasts a fantastic controller. It has the upper hand in indie games and can stream a constantly growing list of legacy titles via PlayStation Now. The PS4 makes it super-easy to capture and broadcast gameplay online and generally delivers a zippier performance than its direct competition. It also doubles as a Blu-ray player and solid media-streaming box.

THE BAD The Xbox One has a slight edge in non-gaming entertainment features such as streaming content and media portal apps.

THE BOTTOM LINE The PlayStation 4’s beautiful graphics, smart interface, blazing performance, near-perfect controller and better indie offerings give it an edge over the Xbox One — though that edge is ever-shrinking.

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As the PlayStation 4 quickly approaches its third birthday, let’s reassess the current state of Sony’s flagship game machine.

When the competing consoles were first released, we gave the edge to the PS4 over the Xbox One. And at this point in time, the PS4 is still looking good. It continues to improve thanks to regular system firmware updates and a consistent stream of console-exclusive independent games. Exclusive AAA-titles are less frequent, but the PS4 has some promising titles coming down the pike, including The Last Guardian and Horizon Zero Dawn, both scheduled to arrive in 2016. But if you’re concentrating more on the exclusives 2015 has to offer, the Xbox One wins that immediate holiday battle.

The majority of games are available on both platforms and PC. We call these multiplatform games. In our testing, we’ve found that a handful of titles perform better on a PlayStation 4. The most recent example of this is Call of Duty: Black Ops III.

To be clear: The PS4 and the Xbox One are very closely matched. Both offer a growing library of third-party games — mainstays like the Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed series, as well as newer titles like Fallout 4 and Rainbow Six Siege. And both double as full-service entertainment systems, with built-in Blu-ray players and streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and Hulu Plus.

At this stage in the game we’re still partial to the PlayStation 4. Our reasoning is below — along with a few caveats about areas where the PS4 can improve.

PS4 consoles and bundles

No matter how you purchase a PlayStation 4, it’ll ship with an HDMI cable, a DualShock 4 wireless controller, a USB charging cable and an earbud headset for game chat. The standard console goes for $350 though it seems like at almost any given time a PS4 bundle is being offered by Sony or another retailer. After a recent $50 price cut, the PS4 and Xbox One are nearly identically priced.

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PS4 bundles usually provide the best overall value if you’re looking to get started from scratch. Some franchise titles get exclusive PS4 consoles included in their bundles, most recently seen with the Star Wars: Battlefront PS4 SKU.

Major PS4 exclusive games (available now or soon):

  • Bloodborne
  • Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
  • Infamous: Second Son
  • LittleBigPlanet 3
  • Until Dawn

Major PS4 exclusive games due by 2016 and beyond:

  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • The Last Guardian
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • No Man’s Sky (console exclusive)
  • Dreams
  • Street Fighter V (console exclusive)
  • Ratchet and Clank reboot

PS4 ecosystem

The PlayStation ecosystem includes various products with some shared functionality. For example, the PS Vita can stream PS4 games via “remote play” mode. The PlayStation TV (PSTV) can also stream PS4 games as well as play Vita games and legacy PlayStation titles. Select phones from Sony’s Xperia line can also stream gameplay from the PlayStation 4.

Sony also offers PlayStation Vue, a cable TV alternative starting at $50 a month available on the PS3 and PS4. PlayStation Now, the company’s legacy game-streaming service, is available on every PlayStation platform and lets subscribers play games from the Sony vault. If you purchase in three-month increments, it works out to around $15 a month.

Firmware updates

Sony regularly updates the PS4’s firmware — as of this writing it’s currently at version 3.11. Recent updates to the console have brought along features like:

  • YouTube live game broadcasting
  • Party chat
  • Game communities and events sections
  • Suspend/resume: The console can be put into “rest mode” and then woken up to resume gameplay without needing to relaunch a game.
  • Share Play: Now PS4 owners can “host” a play session and “hand off” the game controller for up to 60 minutes to one of their friends on the PlayStation Network. At the end of the session players can simply restart. Share Play can also work with coop games that let two players engage at the same time. Share Play works with any PS4 game and only the host player needs a copy of the game and a PlayStation Plus membership.
  • Restore: You can now back up data stored on a PS4 and restore it.

The 2.00 firmware had some notable bugs, but Sony has addressed them with a recent 2.01 update. Firmware version 2.02 (also a forced update) brought along more universal stability to the system.

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PS4 pros

Here are the areas where the PS4 excels — and where it has an edge over the Xbox One:

PlayStation Plus

Compared with Xbox Live’s Gold membership, PlayStation Plus still makes it out as the better overall deal. The Instant Game Collection titles that come with the subscription can be played across various PlayStation platforms and the quality of these titles tends to be higher, though recently the free games have started to underwhelm. You need PlayStation Plus to play online, and it also offers discounts, exclusive betas and demos, cloud save storage, game trials and automatic system updates.

PlayStation Plus is $50, £40 or AU$70 a year, while Xbox Live Gold is $60, £40 or AU$85 per year, although you may be able to get discounted vouchers from retailers.

System interface

Overall, the PS4’s interface feels zippier than the Xbox One’s, even with Xbox’s new fall 2015 update. Games install quicker and moving around menus is a much smoother experience. It’s by far an easier system to navigate, as opposed to the Xbox One’s sometimes confusing presentation.second-post-playstation-41

Game streaming

Sony’s answer to backward compatibility is PlayStation Now, a subscription service that allows PS4 owners to stream a game over the Internet. That said, your experience will vary depending on your Internet connection. Suffice it to say, playing shooters and other “twitch” games on PS Now isn’t great, but it’s certainly improving — as is the growing collection of playable titles. When it launched we wrote PS Now off. Now we think it’s a viable option for those who are passionate about legacy PlayStation games.

Xbox One recently introduced Xbox 360 backward compatibility, which works with physical media, as opposed to PS Now’s digital-only operation.

Performance

Aside from a zippier all-around experience in the system software, the PS4 tends to install games quicker than the Xbox One. There’s also some evidence that multiplatform games play better and run in higher resolutions than they do on the Xbox One. In some cases, the PS4 will also play at a higher frame rate than the Xbox One.

Game broadcasting and social sharing

The DualShock 4 controller has a button dedicated to broadcasting and sharing options. The whole feature set is wonderfully tied into the fabric of the system and makes sharing fairly painless. Players can instantly snap screenshots, tweet photos and broadcast gameplay to Twitch (a free online streaming-gaming video service), all within a few clicks.

PS4 owners can also save these videos and screens and put them on a USB drive, edit them on the PS4 or upload them to YouTube, Facebook or Twitter.

It’s worth noting that publishers can block the ability to share content — it’s usually done to avoid leaking major plot spoilers in a game.second-post-playstation-4-box

Independent games

Sony has committed to bringing popular independent games to PS4. While a lot of these titles have previously been available for PC, games like Rocket League, No Man’s Sky and SOMA (among many others) will only see console debuts on PS4.

User-accessible hard drive

The PS4 ships with a 500GB, 5,400rpm hard drive (and is also available in a 1TB model), but you can easily swap it out for a 2.5-inch SATA drive with a larger capacity or a SSHD or SSD for potentially increased performance. The Xbox One, by comparison, doesn’t allow the swapping of hard drives — instead you have to attach an external USB drive.

DualShock 4 controller

The DualShock 4 is the best PlayStation controller yet and features a front-facing touchpad that can also be clicked. Players can bring their own headphones and plug them directly into the controller so they don’t disturb the neighbors during nighttime gaming.second-post-playstation-414

The controller is very comfortable and can be charged with a Micro-USB cable. The only real downside is the battery: unlike the Xbox One controller’s battery, the PS4’s can’t be replaced. Its battery life is good, but not great.

 

Media playback

The PS4’s media player app supports a wide range of file formats and codecs. Files can be played off a home DLNA server or USB drive.

PS4 cons

Here are the areas where the PS4 could use a little work:

Media apps: Good, but slightly lagging behind the Xbox One

The PS4 offers mainstay media and entertainment apps like Amazon Instant Video, Netflix and Hulu Plus, but is noticeably missing apps that the Xbox One does have, such as ESPN, Comedy Central, Fox and Fios.

There is support for sports, though — PS4 owners can use MLB, NBA (only on PS4), NFL Sunday Ticket and NHL apps.

PlayStation Plus cloud storage

Cloud save storage was recently bumped up to a generous 10GB worth of data, but only for PS+ members. We also think cloud saves should sync automatically no matter which PS4 you’re playing on, instead of gamers having to manually upload saves from machines that aren’t their “primary console.” In this specific category, Xbox One has PS4 beat.

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Wonky eject button

A collection of current PS4 owners have experienced an issue with the PS4’s touch-sensitive eject button. Some complain that it can engage by itself, causing the console to either eject a disc during play or randomly make beeps.

Sony has since corrected this and now 1TB consoles ship with a tactile eject button.

PlayStation VR

PlayStation VR will finally be with us this October and we can’t wait to stick our faces in it. Sony’s PS4 virtual reality headset is coming in way cheaper than the likes of Oculus Rift or HTC’s Vive, with a RRP of just £350/$399.

In here (Virtual Reality post) you’ll find our guide to the best preorder deals out there for the headset, with prices starting around the aforementioned £350/$399. Pricier options also include the PS4 camera. Don’t expect many discounts before release, but we’ll keep you posted if any pop up.

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Game Consoles and Generation

Why Buy Video Game Consoles?

From the late ’80s to the beginning of 1999, video game consoles were mostly single-function devices. Then, when Sony launched the PlayStation 2 with a built-in DVD player, gaming consoles became a major part of our entertainment hubs. Today, consoles include Blu-ray players and entertainment streaming services. Whether playing video games, watching a new Blu-ray or listening to a music service, a new console has something for everyone in the family.

While video game consoles are all-in-one entertainment machines, the most important part of them is their ability to play games. Although many gamers will say that computers have the best graphics, new gaming technology is birthed on consoles. Also, some of gaming’s biggest franchises are only available on consoles. Finally, consoles tend to be future-ready devices, as manufacturers know that you’ll be using them for at least six years. This means that over the next few years, new peripherals and technologies will supplement the consoles.

The best game consoles are the Sony PlayStation 4, the Microsoft Xbox One and the Microsoft Xbox 360. There are also several micro-consoles available at a lower price point. Be sure to read our articles about video game consoles to learn more about modern gaming.

Video Game Consoles: What to Look For

First and foremost, a video game console has to have the ability to play exciting games. We judged these consoles for their games, media apps and technological capabilities. We favor consoles with powerful tech that will handle high-end games for the next five to seven years. On top of that, we want great gaming experiences, but because many games are available on multiple consoles, we judged the systems on their exclusive content. Finally, we looked at each console’s non-gaming functions such as entertainment apps and social capabilities. Below are the criteria we used to evaluate video game consoles:

Performance

Consoles will never trump PC gaming in sheer computing power, but the advantage of a console is simplicity. Once you plug it in, you are set for years to come. Still, you want a console that will perform well for years to come. We looked at the muscle of each console and compared their specs against each other. It is important to note that the most powerful console won’t necessarily have the best games. However, the most powerful console will likely have the best-looking games.

Features

Video game consoles today offer online gaming and loads of additional features. We looked for consoles that offer remote play through a handheld device, excellent online connectivity and extra features such as content streaming. Games are more social than ever thanks to online components, so you should look for a system that offers headset support to talk with your friends.

Multimedia & Social

Gaming consoles are still primarily for playing games, but they are increasingly becoming the entertainment hub for the entire family. For example, the Xbox One has an HDMI-in port so you can plug your cable box directly into the console and play games while watching a football game. We looked at each console’s media apps and social capabilities.

Help & Support

A video game console manufacturer should provide timely and comprehensive help and support for technical issues by offering several contact methods, including online chat, telephone and email. The manufacturer should provide detailed information online about its consoles. We also looked for manufacturers that offer good warranties on new products.

As you can see, there are quite a few aspects to consider before making a final decision on which video game console fits your lifestyle best. Each system offers a unique style of gaming, and your specific entertainment preferences will determine which console is right for you.

Generations

First generation

The Magnavox Odyssey was the first video game console, released in 1972.

The first video games appeared in the 1960s. They were played on massive computers connected to vector displays, notanalog televisions. Ralph H. Baer conceived the idea of a home video game in 1951. In the late 1960s, while working forSanders Associates, Baer created a series of video game console designs. One of these designs, which gained the nickname of the 1966 “Brown Box”, featured changeable game modes and was demonstrated to several TV manufacturers, ultimately leading to an agreement between Sanders Associates and Magnavox.

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Magnavox Odyssey Console Set

In 1972, Magnavox released the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game console which could be connected to a TV set. Ralph Baer’s initial design had called for a huge row of switches that would allow players to turn on and off certain components of the console (the Odyssey lacked a CPU) to create slightly different games like tennis, volleyball, hockey, and chase. Magnavox replaced the switch design with separate cartridges for each game. Although Baer had sketched up ideas for cartridges that could include new components for new games, the carts released by Magnavox all served the same function as the switches and allowed players to choose from the Odyssey’s built-in games.

The Odyssey initially sold about 100,000 units, making it moderately successful, and it was not until Atari’s arcade game Pong popularized video games that the public began to take more notice of the emerging industry. By autumn 1975, Magnavox, bowing to the popularity of Pong, cancelled the Odyssey and released a scaled-down version that played only Pong and hockey, the Odyssey 100. A second, “higher end” console, the Odyssey 200, was released with the 100 and added on-screen scoring, up to four players, and a third game—Smash. Almost simultaneously released with Atari’s own home Pong console through Sears, these consoles jump-started the consumer market. All three of the new consoles used simpler designs than the original Odyssey did with no board game pieces or extra cartridges.

In the years that followed, the market saw many companies rushing similar consoles to market. After General Instrument released their inexpensive microchips, each containing a complete console on a single chip, many small developers began releasing consoles that looked different externally, but internally were playing exactly the same games.

Most of the consoles from this era were dedicated consoles playing only the games that came with the console. These video game consoles were often just called video games, because there was little reason to distinguish the two yet. While a few companies like Atari, Magnavox, and newcomer Coleco pushed the envelope, the market became flooded with simple, similar video games.

Second generation

Home consoles

The Atari 2600 became the most popular game console of the second generation.

Fairchild released the Fairchild Video Entertainment System (VES) in 1976. While there had been previous game consoles that used cartridges, either the cartridges had no information and served the same function as flipping switches (the Odyssey) or the console itself was empty (Coleco Telstar) and the cartridge contained all of the game components. The VES, however, contained a programmable microprocessor so its cartridges only needed a single ROM chip to store microprocessor instructions.

RCA and Atari soon released their own cartridge-based consoles, the RCA Studio II and the Atari 2600 (originally branded as the Atari Video Computer System), respectively.

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Atari 2600 Wood 4Sw Set

Handheld game consoles

The first handheld game console with interchangeable cartridges was the Microvision designed by Smith Engineering, and distributed and sold by Milton-Bradley in 1979. Crippled by a small, fragile LCD display and a very narrow selection of games, it was discontinued two years later.

The Epoch Game Pocket Computer was released in Japan in 1984. The Game Pocket Computer featured an LCD screen with 75 X 64 resolution, and could produce graphics at about the same level as early Atari 2600 games. The system sold poorly, and as a result only 5 games were made for it.

Nintendo’s Game & Watch series of dedicated game systems proved more successful. It helped to establish handheld gaming as popular and lasted until 1991. Many Game & Watch games would later be re-released on Nintendo’s subsequent handheld systems.

Rebirth of the home console market

The VES continued to be sold at a profit after 1977, and both Bally (with their Home Library Computer in 1977) and Magnavox (with the Odyssey² in 1978) brought their own programmable cartridge-based consoles to the market. However, it was not until Atari released a conversion of the golden age arcade hit Space Invadersin 1980 for the Atari 2600 that the home console industry took off. Many consumers bought an Atari console so they could play Space Invaders at home. The unprecedented success of Space Invaders started the trend of console manufacturers trying to get exclusive rights to arcade titles, and the trend of advertisements for game consoles claiming to bring the arcade experience home.

Throughout the early 1980s, other companies released video game consoles of their own. Many of the video game systems (e.g. ColecoVision) were technically superior to the Atari 2600, and marketed as improvements over the Atari 2600. However, Atari dominated the console market in the early 1980s.

Video game crash of 1983

In 1983, the video game business suffered a much more severe crash. A flood of consoles, low-quality video games by smaller companies (especially for the 2600), industry leader Atari hyping games such as E.T and a 2600 version of Pac-Man that were poorly received, and a growing number of home computer users caused consumers and retailers to lose faith in video game consoles. Most video game companies filed for bankruptcy, or moved into other industries, abandoning their game consoles. A group of employees from Mattel Electronics formed the INTV Corporation and bought the rights for the Intellivision. INTV alone continued to manufacture the Intellivision in small quantities and release new Intellivision games until 1991. All other North American game consoles were discontinued by 1984.

Third generation

Home consoles

The NES made home console video games popular again in America after the 1983 crash.

In 1983, Nintendo released the Family Computer (or Famicom) in Japan. The Famicom supported high-resolution sprites, larger color palettes, and tiled backgrounds. This allowed Famicom games to be longer and have more detailed graphics. Nintendo began attempts to bring their Famicom to the U.S. after the video game market had crashed. In the U.S., video games were seen as a fad that had already passed. To distinguish its product from older game consoles, Nintendo released their Famicom as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) which used a front-loading cartridge port similar to a VCR, included a plastic “robot” (R.O.B.), and was initially advertised as a toy.

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NES Console Set

The NES was the highest selling console in the history of North America and revitalized the video game market. Mario ofSuper Mario Bros became a global icon starting with his NES games. Nintendo took an unusual stance with third-party developers for its console. Nintendo contractually restricted third-party developers to three NES titles per year and forbade them from developing for other video game consoles. The practice ensured Nintendo’s market dominance and prevented the flood of trash titles that had helped kill the Atari, but was ruled illegal late in the console’s life cycle.

Sega’s Master System was intended to compete with the NES, but never gained any significant market share in the US or Japan and was barely profitable. It fared notably better in PAL territories. In Europe and South America, the Master System competed with the NES and saw new game releases even after Sega’s next-generation Mega Drive was released. In Brazil where strict importation laws and rampant piracy kept out competitors, the Master System outsold the NES by a massive margin and remained popular into the ’90s.

Jack Tramiel, after buying Atari, downsizing its staff, and settling its legal disputes, attempted to bring Atari back into the home console market. Atari released a smaller, sleeker, cheaper version of their popular Atari 2600. They also released the Atari 7800, a console technologically comparable with the NES and backwards compatible with the 2600. Finally Atari repackaged its 8-bit XE home computer as the XEGS game console. The new consoles helped Atari claw its way out of debt, but failed to gain much market share from Nintendo. Atari’s lack of funds meant that its consoles saw fewer releases, lower production values (both the manuals and the game labels were frequently black and white), and limited distribution.

Handheld game consoles

In the later part of the third generation, Nintendo also introduced the Game Boy, which almost single-handedly solidified and then proceeded to dominate the previously scattered handheld market for 15 years. While the Game Boy product line was incrementally updated every few years, until the Game Boy Micro andNintendo DS, and partially the Game Boy Color, all Game Boy products were backwards compatible with the original released in 1989. Since the Game Boy’s release, Nintendo had dominated the handheld market. Additionally two popular 8-bit computers, the Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC, were repackaged as theCommodore 64 Games System and Amstrad GX4000 respectively, for entry into the console market.

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