The Battle of the Gaming Consoles will take place on Black Friday, and there will be no mercy. The top heavyweights of the eighth-generation of video game consoles, Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, will begin to slug it out in earnest as the 2013 holiday shopping season officially begins.
Each of the eighth-generation gaming consoles boasts AMD x86 dual quad-core processors, 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, Blu-ray optical drives and Radeon GPUs for high-level graphics processing. Both gaming consoles also boasts expandable 500 GB internal hard drives for storing games, movies and other media, and both have native support for WI-Fi 801.11n and hi-speed Ethernet connections. So far, so good, with both gaming consoles delivering superb technological advances over their respective predecessors, as one would expect.
In terms of accessories, both gaming have redesigned controllers, with the Sony PS4 sporting a number of innovative new features. The Dualshock 4 controller has a built-in hi-fidelity speaker, as well as a standard stereo jack on the controller, allowing users to plug headphones directly into the it, a big plus for late-night gamers. The Sony controller also includes a custom touchpad and lightbar. The Xbox One controller is similar to the old 360 controller, with some ergonomic modifications to the trigger buttons and thumbsticks. Only time will tell if gamers come to love the different feel of the Xbox controller, but the PS4 controller is already garnering rave reviews.
Both gaming consoles continue to allow access to their familiar signature online services, the PlayStation Network for Sony and Xbox Live for Microsoft. These services can be used for socializing, downloading games and media and updating the gaming consoles firmware. Microsoft has withdrawn a controversial feature that would have required the system to access the internet every 24 hours to update and authenticate games.
The eighth-generation gaming consoles also allow devices like smartphones and tablets to be used as second screens, a much lauded feature. The Xbox One includes Kinetic, a motion-sensing camera that can be used for video conferencing and certain game features; the PlayStation 4 also accepts a camera accessory, but it must be purchased separately. Both cameras are capable of HD video recording and accepting voice commands through integrated microphones.
Both the Sony and Microsoft gaming consoles support video and photo management and output surround sound and ultra-high resolution 4k images through HDMI connections. The PlayStation 4 also supports Bluetooth connectivity, something that the Microsoft offering does not, allowing wireless headsets to be used with ease.
Neither system is backward compatible, meaning that the library of games that users have accumulated over the years will have to be shelved or played on the legacy consoles. Both companies have expressed the possibility of allowing gamers to access their older games through a cloud-based online service in the future, but their have been no definite promises or specifications issues by either console developer.
The PlayStation 4, which hit stores in North America on November 15th, retails for $399, while the Xbox One, which was released domestically on November 22nd, is $499. The holiday season will likely bring bundle offers from the big box stores and online shippers, making it an ideal time for shoppers to pick up a console and some accessories or games.
So which gaming console will win the battle? That is yet to be determined, as consumer reviews are still being published. The choice between the two systems is, ultimately, a matter of taste and familiarity, but one thing is for certain – both of these systems are leaps and bounds ahead of anything previously available, and both units will certainly provide countless ours of entertainment for avid gamers and casual users alike.
by Mark Clarke