Nintendo inaugurated the next generation of game consoles with the Nintendo Wii U, the company’s first high-def system with enough graphical horsepower to bear comparison to the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Arguably the Wii U’s unique selling point is the enormous “control tablet”—essentially a chubby, button-loaded iPad rental—that brings the Wii’s motion controls, the Xbox’s physical ones, and the Nintendo 3DS’s touch screen together. This fits into the recent trend toward experimentation we’ve noticed in the tech sector, such as the new computing paradigms being promoted in both the high-end (Mac Pro) and low-end (Chromebooks).
Game consoles are very big business. Competition is fierce in 2013, and will culminate this November in a game console smackdown that PCmag.com says is “shaping up to be the fight of the century.” That’s when both Sony and Microsoft start selling their own “new paradigm game consoles” to counter the Nintendo Wii that’s already on sale. The Nintendo flagship is a unique system, more potent than the average computer rental, but there are few titles for it so far. Its other major new feature, the TVii subsystem for live TV and digital media, is not quite fully baked. The high-definition video is a nice addition but the Wii U’s future depends on other developers turning the new paradigm into popular games and entertainment.
Sony PlayStation 4
The Sony PlayStation 4 will retail for $100 less than Microsoft’s Xbox One. Although the PlayStation 4 price won’t include its new PlayStation Eye camera while the Xbox One will come bundled with Microsoft Kinect, the $100 difference is enough to catch consumers’ attention. As with such Apple products as the iconic iMac, though, many consumers gladly pay more for good design, attention to detail, and superior craftsmanship. But, Sony has the better reputation for quality control.
Importantly, you can play games (virtually) forever on the PlayStation 4 while remaining offline, and use your games from previous PlayStation models. While Microsoft proposed and reversed several controversial policies concerning the Xbox One, Sony has whipped its fan base into a frenzy the way Apple did at WWDC 2013. Fanboyz and fangirlz are good for business. A strong selection of top titles are lined up behind the launch-day games to keep the fans happy.
Microsoft Xbox One
The Xbox One is Microsoft’s third-generation console and its definition of “living room tech” has expanded far beyond mere gaming. The basic system combines the next-generation Kinect 2.0 sensor—more sensitive with better recognition of small and/or quick gestures—with a 500GB hard drive, a single wireless controller, and its first Blu-ray drive. Connectivity is covered with HDMI in/out and USB 3.0 support. Frankly, you could connect everything from our plasma display rentals to external mass storage to this device, as it’s compatible with just about everything. Coincidence? Hardly. Microsoft is not even positioning the Xbox One as a game console. It’s meant to be the center of your life.
For spending leisure hours enjoying media and entertainment, the Xbox One has channel guides for live TV, on-demand, and subscription options; and you can split screens and jump among games, TV shows, movies, music, photos, Skype video calls, the camera at your front door, and anything else with a digital signal that you can connect to it. The proposed “security” measures initially proposed for the Xbox One (various disturbing restrictions on trading or even playing used games) were nixed in June. Exclusive Xbox One titles at or near launch day include a new Halo plus Forza Motorsports 5, Dead Rising 3, and Minecraft: Xbox One Edition.
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