Although gaming PCs have come a long way in both power and affordability, many of the best games are only available on home consoles. For example, Nintendo's beloved characters like Mario, Link, Samus Aran and Fox McCloud will only be available on Nintendo's consoles. Also, consoles are optimized for your television, unlike many PCs that require you to adjust several settings to get a good image on your TV. Many video game consoles are becoming entertainment hubs, offering television, music and movie streaming options in addition to great games.
Now that we are in a new console cycle, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are competing for your dollars with their newest home consoles. Each system has its strengths and weaknesses, so it's important to choose the right one for your family.
After testing each console, we found that the best home consoles are the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox 360, with the Nintendo Wii U coming in fifth place. We also have several articles about video game consoles for you to read.
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:
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.
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.