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Friday, December 31, 2010

In the Console Wars: XBOX vs. PS3 vs. Wii, what's the best choice?

I've been a Microsoft fan-boy since before I spent a few years working for them. They, generally, have a quality product, and aside from Windows Me, Windows Vista, and Word 6.0 for Macintosh (which is much like Windows Vista's growing pain), they've had a quality offering to the consumer. The same can be said for their game console, it's a quality piece of hardware... Now. It had a rough start with version 1 (circa 2001), and the XBOX360 was cursed by hardware issues and only saved by Microsoft's extension of the warranty to 3 years for the "Red Ring of Death" and the E74 errors. I had two XBOX360's get replaced due to failure, but still the platform is awesome.

Now, I was given a PlayStation 3 for Christmas. I'm not new to Sony's offerings, having had and since given away a PS2 years ago, another fine system that remains available and is, in fact, being integrated into some flat-panel displays even now. The news to me is how much less the TCO is for the PlayStation3 compared to the XBOX360 as it stands right now.

Right out of the box the PS3 has a choice of wired or wireless connectivity to the Internet (your router) and it's a Blu-Ray DVD player. It can connect to your home PC that has all of your [legally obtained] MP3s, DivX movies, and Pictures as shared by Media Player (version 10+/Windows XP and later). You have an ample hard disk (250Gb at this point, though my PS3 is older and has an 80Gb), and all of this is out of the box!

Now the XBOX360 is very similar. The current (as of 2010) model has all of the above with the exception of that Blu-Ray player, but this is not the TOTAL COST of OWNERSHIP... To get online and play against others on the XBOX you need an XBOX Live Gold membership, $60. To attach a camera to the XBOX, you need their XBOX branded camera (~$50) or the new and very cool XBOX Kinect Controller ($150). To get a wireless headset for the XBOX, that's $60. The list goes on...

I am very pleased to see that the following is true of the PlayStation 3.

While the Blue-Ray drive is proprietary and somewhat difficult to source/replace for the technically inept, upgrading the hard drive is... non-proprietary and you can upgrade at your discretion. The camera, if you like such things, can be the same web-cam as you use on your PC. and your headset can be a Bluetooth or USB-connected, and these are not specialized. Also, you get the advantage of a real web browser on the PS3, something the XBOX has needed for a very long time. Oh, and getting online to play others... is FREE. No membership fees. Another easily overlooked advantage to the PS3, the controllers are rechargeable wireless, the batteries may be internal, but you can charge via USB while playing. It's true the XBOX controllers can do this, but you pay a premium for the controller then need to supply your own batteries or get a battery pack.

The choice of games systems is tilted in favour or the PS3, the final influence is the games you want to play. There are Microsoft-only properties, and Sony-only properties. You can't play any of the Halo or Forza games on the PS3, but you can't get GT5 on the XBOX360...

Oh, I didn't mention the Wii... I did say BEST choice. Personally I use the Wii for Netflix, but it's a good low-cost system that has fun games for kids.