PS4 vs. Xbox One: The console wars take a new turn

Consoles

Depending on how you look at it, the game console wars just took another turn with the launch of the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One consoles.  What is even more amazing is the close and fierce competition between these two consoles in price, design, specs, and game varieties.

How do these two consoles stack up against one another?

The PS4

Playstation has always been primarily a gaming device and the PS4 stays true to the cause. The console and controller have been completely redesigned. A new controller, the Dualshock 4, comes with improved ergonomics with slightly indented trigger buttons while the analog sticks have a slightly elevated rim to keep a player’s thumb from sliding off.

PS4

Other improvements to the controller include a touchpad and a light bar. The touchpad dominates much of the middle space but is fairly responsive to touch especially for in-game navigation. A Playstation camera, sold separately, allows the console to detect the movement and depth of field in front of it via the light bar.

The PS4 comes with an additional app, the Playstation App, on both iOS and Android, which lets you carry your game beyond the big screen, on the go. You can purchase and download games for the PS4 on the move and even play from where you left off right within the app.

Some of the games you can start playing immediately you purchase the console include Killzone Shadow Fall and Call of Duty: Ghosts. The console debuts at $400.

The Xbox One

Xbox One comes in a completely new design in comparison to the previous Xbox 360. Xbox exclusives like Halo may not be motivation enough for you to purchase the console, but the added features like voice command support and motion control to the system via the Kinect will definitely make you want to reconsider your options despite the $500 price tag.

XBox One

What really sells it for Xbox One though is the fact that you can use it for more than just playing games. The machine comes with a cable port for watching your TV. What is even more interesting is the fact you don’t need to switch between the game and the TV. Simply tell ‘the One’ what you wanna watch. For instance, you can say, “Xbox, Watch ABC” and it will switch.

Other services you can access include Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, Xbox Movies. You also no longer need to fire up services like Skype and Internet Explorer separately. These have been integrated with the One and you can pull them up onto the big screen just as fast.

The Xbox One also comes with the SmartGlass app for Android, iOS, and Windows.

Bottom Line

The question of which is better, the One or the PS4, is hard to answer when you have two big players with two big consoles. Never before has gaming had two such stand-out consoles to choose from. The Playstation 4 has the best bits gleaned from three generations of systems while the Xbox One offers much broader experiences.

Initial impressions of the PlayStation Vita handheld gaming console

PS VitaPlayStation and I have had our ups and downs in the past year, but somehow I’ve managed to move past the whole account hacking, contested charges, and banning of my beloved PSN account. I recently picked up the new PlayStation Vita, and so far I am impressed.

For starters, the variety of new input methods seems to work well. The most obvious improvement over the PSP is the inclusion of a second thumb stick, making it possible to play console-quality games on the handheld. This was the #1 feature which held back the PSP, and the Vita knocks it out of the park. Not only does the unit feature a second thumb stick, but both thumb sticks feel like that found on the Dual Shock 3 controller, rather than the sliding disc found on the PSP. This alone improves analog input so much that it can’t really even be compared to the PSP.

As if adding a second thumb stick wasn’t enough, Sony added a high-quality OLED touchscreen, which I must say looks exquisite and reacts accurately to the commands of the user’s fingers. If you’ve used a high-end smartphone in the last year or two, you’ll feel right at home using the Vita’s touchscreen.

Another set of important additions are the front and rear cameras, along with a built-in microphone. This not only makes online gaming and voice chat possible without a headset, but the possibility for video and audio-based apps are almost endless. Apps such as Skype will be much more enjoyable than it was on the PSP, that’s for sure. Hopefully it’s only a matter of time before we start to see apps taking advantage of these features.

Just to add some gravy to the mashed potatoes, Sony also added a touchpad to the back of the device, allowing users to tap, swipe, and draw with their fingers, without ever obscuring their view of the beautiful screen. While it feels like the least precise input method the Vita has to offer, I can only imagine the value it could add to gaming.

The questions I’ve yet to answer are: How will the multitude of input methods affect the quality of gameplay? Will it make playing certain games feel like a chore? Will gamers be able to deactivate the rear touchpad if it is not to their liking? Will Nintendo release yet another version of the DS which offers the same inputs, plus 3D? Hopefully in the next week or so, I’ll be able to answer some of these questions.