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.
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.