Gaming consoles can make a great gift for someone on your gift list this year. Pretty much everyone plays some sort of game on an electronic device whether its a phone, tablet, computer, or video game console. For the avid gamer, or someone looking for a fun past time, a gaming console will likely be a gift that will be received excitedly. While they also have many similarities, the best and most popular gaming systems each have their own, unique qualities that separates each of them from their competition.
PlayStation 4 is a favorite by many. Since this popular console’s release in 2013, it has seen a remodel to the “PS4 Slim” version. This version has a slimmer casing, is less expensive, runs quieter, and uses less power than the original PS4. A limitation of this console versus the original, is that it lacks optical audio output. If you can’t see this being an issue though, the PS4 Slim could be a good option for a gaming console.
PlayStation has exclusive games for its consoles like Uncharted, The Last of Us, Spider-Man, God of War, and Zero Dawn. For fans of these games, the PS4 is definitely the console to get because you won’t be able to get them for any other system. However, for those coming from PS3, PS4, could be a bit of disappointment as the console doesn’t have reverse compatibility. The PS4 Slim also does not support 4K resolution. If you are looking for a system that does, the PS4 Pro is an option. Or, if you’re willing to go to a competitor, Microsoft’s Xbox One S would fit the bill and is in the same price range. This 4K capability is just for media apps and Blu-ray discs, however, so there won’t be a difference on the games being played.
Other Playing Options
If you think the gamer you’re buying for would like playing virtual reality games, then the PlayStation 4 is the console for you. While the console supports VR, the VR “gear” doesn’t come with the console. This is not too surprising, as it is actually quite pricey. Nonetheless, if the gamer you’re buying for loves VR, then it could be worth the extra cost.
These days it’s pretty standard for gaming consoles to all feature a way to use your console as an entertainment (besides video games) vessel. On the PS4, you can download media apps like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and more. This way, when you’re not playing games, you have a convenient way to do the other things you love.
PlayStation 4 Pro
The PS4 Pro is Sony’s newest gaming option. This console boasts hardware that increases game performance from the original PS4, and also features 4K capability. Despite this change, gaming experts say that depending on what the gamer is upgrading from, the PS4 Pro may not be worth the extra money you’ll have to spend. Other than the higher resolution and updated hardware, there is really no other change from the PS4 to the PS4 Pro. For the casual gamer, the difference probably won’t even be noticed. Also keep in mind that you will need a 4K TV to even be able to use the 4K on the PS4. So if you don’t have that technology in the TV, it’s definitely not worth it to purchase the PS4 Pro.
If you game a lot, the extra money you’ll spend on this device could be worth it. It really comes down to how serious you are about gaming, and how much you cherish those faster loading speeds.
Xbox One S
The Xbox One S is perhaps the most affordable console for what it is, and like the PS4, came out in November 2013. The Xbox One S positions itself a little bit lower in cost to the PS4 Slim. Even though it has a lower price, this is definitely not an indication of lower quality. The Xbox One S really holds their ground in the gaming console industry.
Xbox One has a really great entertainment and media hub. Unlike the Playstation, Xbox supports 4K and HDR Blu-ray movies. The PlayStation only supports Full HD Blu-ray movies. In addition, the PlayStation also lacks the ability to stream 4K videos through Netflix or other streaming service/media app. But keep in mind that this doesn’t matter unless you have a TV that also has that capability. If you have cable, Xbox makes it really easy to seamlessly transition from playing video games to watching TV.
On the PlayStation side, PS4 has far more games and exclusive titles than Xbox does. So for someone who wants that wide selection of games, then the PS4 is a pretty obvious choice (unless of course you’re a fan of the Xbox exclusive games).
The Xbox One S comes at a lower cost, and in my opinion, it has many features that make it better than the PS4 Slim. The only reason I could see that you would want to go for the PS4 Slim is if you are set on playing PlayStation exclusive games or VR.
Xbox One X
The Xbox One X is the rival to the PlayStation Pro. The more powerful version of the Xbox, this console has 4K capability for media apps, Blu-ray, and games; the Xbox One S just has 4K for media apps and Blu-ray. Users of the Xbox One X will also experience faster loading times due to the improved HDD speeds. These differences in the Xbox X come at a large cost though. Like with the PS4 Pro, if you (or the gamer you’re buying for) are obsessed with 4K and having the latest and greatest gaming consoles, you will probably want to splurge on the X version of the Xbox One. This console’s extra power is also definitely worth it if you game a lot, but if you are a more casual gamer and will only play a few times a week, then the Xbox One S is probably enough power for you.
With the Switch, Nintendo offers the most versatile gaming system on the market. For the gamer who likes to be able to game from anywhere and have a portable option to hook up to TVs in different rooms within their house, or take it to a friend’s house, the Switch could be a good option. The Nintendo Switch can be played as a handheld device, or you can pop the controllers off the sides of the device, prop up the screen with the built-in kickstand and play multiplayer on the go. In addition to these 2 game modes, you can also connect the Switch to a TV and play with the TV’s larger screen.
The Nintendo Switch has many really great games including the popular, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Pokemon Shield, Pokemon Sword, Mario Kart, and Super Mario Odyssey. Just like the Xbox One and PS4 have games exclusive to their platforms, Switch has a lot of games that are exclusive to Nintendo. You’ll want to take this into consideration. For example, if the person you are buying for loves Mario games, these are only available on Nintendo devices.
Because of it’s smaller size, the Nintendo Switch is not nearly as powerful as the Xbox One or PS4. Despite this, users say it still delivers a lot of fun. Most likely you won’t notice this lack in power because most games you’ll find for play on the Nintendo Switch are made specifically for it, so they are made to work well on the device. If your gamer enjoys online FPS (first-person shooter) games like Fortnite, or any online game where you need to react in a split second, the Xbox One or PS4 is probably the better choice.
Nintendo Switch has an online multiplayer mode as well as a multiplayer mode to play with people in the same room as you. You can play multiplayer while the device is in handheld mode, tabletop mode, or TV mode.
The online membership cost is cheap, and comes in 1-month, 3-month, and 12-month subscription increments. As of now, the 1-month membership is $3.99, 3-month is $7.99, and 12-month is $19.99. Nintendo also offers a Family membership that can include up to 8 different Nintendo accounts all for $34.99 for a year membership. This price is well worth it if you have at least 2 Switches in your family.
Nintendo Switch Lite
The Nintendo Switch Lite is a more recently released version of the Nintendo Switch. The Switch Lite can only be played in handheld mode. This is great for those who like to play on-the-go and/or don’t care about playing on a big screen. When you sacrifice the ability to convert to the two other playing modes, you save $100. For many, this can be a huge deciding factor. The Nintendo Switch Lite is compatible with the same games as the Nintendo Switch, although multiplayer modes may not be supported depending on the game. Most games however, do support multiplayer on Switch Lite and you can play online with friends who have Switches or connect additional controllers to your device and play with your friends on the couch, the backseat of a car, or wherever you may take your Switch.
One thing to note is that multiplayer mode on the Switch Lite can be a little more challenging. When you just have one Switch device that all your friends are playing on, everyone is playing off one small screen. This is okay if you only plan on playing multiplayer every once in a while, but if you foresee yourself playing a lot of multiplayer with friends or family members on one device, I’d spend the extra $100 and get the console that can support multiplayer modes more easily.
Multiplayer online is great though, and shouldn’t feel any different than playing handheld online multiplayer with the original Switch.
What system(s) do your friends have?
In my opinion, video games are more fun when you have someone to play them with! When considering what gaming system to purchase, think about what console their friends play with. Many games are not cross-platform. So if gaming with friends is a possibility for the user, you may want to consider getting what console their friends have and buy the same one.
While there are many options to choose from when it comes to picking out the video game console that is right for you, most of the consoles are so similar to each other that you can’t really choose a wrong one. This guide’s purpose is to let you know of the options and where they excel and come short of the competition. Any of the consoles mentioned in this article are worth buying. It really just comes down to the gamer’s preference on games, how much they will be using it, and where they will be using it.