2013 marks the year that we have fully moved on to the next generation of gaming consoles. The PS4, XBox One and Wii U will lead us in to the next generation of gaming, graphics, game play and entertainment. These bring the questions of “Which console should I get?”, “Should I get the PS4?, “Is the Xbox One worth it?”, “Is the Nintendo Wii U any good?” All three of these next gen console bring you gaming and entertainment but each do it in a different and unique way and we hope to answer as many of those questions as we can here as we give you the PS4 vs. Xbox One vs Wii U. This will also be a dynamic review since it is still early in this console generation we will frequently update this post as new features are added and systems are updated.
The Xbox One
(Update: 5/8/2015 – updated pricing for Xbox One)
Microsoft was the first to jump in during the previous cycle of consoles and in this generation they are the last to come (only by a week though). The Xbox One goal is to be that one device for all your entertainment needs. It combines next gen gaming with TV and entertainment. It goes about bringing you this with built in Blu-ray player, 500 GB of storage, Kinect and software that combines TV, Apps and gaming. The Xbox One can act as your cable box with the OneGuide. It supports most cable companies and connects to your current cable box through HDMI pass through. That’s why there is 2 HDMI ports on it. One connects the Xbox One to the cable box and the other to the TV. It will bring up an interactive guide and menu and can control the cable box’s DVR (The Xbox One doesn’t record TV directly to it. You’ll need a cable DVR box for that.) Kinect allows voice commands and gestures to control the Xbox One experience. One of the cool commands is to just say “Xbox On” and it will turn on your TV, cable box and audio equipment.
Another key feature are the apps as you can get streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, ESPN, NFL and more. It supposes Windows 8 apps as well so if the app developer can make apps and games that will work not only on your Windows 8 PC and phone but also the Xbox One. With all this Microsoft has worked on giving the Xbox One great multitasking capabilities to seamlessly navigate between all the features. The system also supports as second screen experience using Xbox One Smart Glass that will let you interact and control your Xbox One on a Wi-Fi network on Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Windows 8. For gaming the Xbox One is going to bring you over time a well rounded selection of titles with solid exclusives, first party titles and great 3rd party developer support. The console is known best for first person shooters, sports games and online gaming with Xbox Live. There is currently no backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 or Xbox game although there could be support in the future. Games are available not only on disc but also available as a download from the Xbox Live.
The Xbox One isn’t perfect as there are some apps not working yet and the voice commands work well but sometimes not as responsive as you would like them to be and the initial update when you first turn on the console is huge and you can’t use the system until you have installed all the updates. With that said the Xbox One provides one of the best out of box experiences and will be the best option for those looking to get one system to do it all for them.
The PlayStation 4
Sony’s now on it’s 4 iteration of the PlayStation consoles with the PS4. Sony is looking to gain back some fans that it lost back in the last console generation. The PS4 is a gaming machine first before anything else and Sony really emphasis this in their marketing of the PS4. The PS4 hardware wise comes with Blu-ray player and 500 GB hard drive that is user replaceable. The software user experience is greatly improved and has taken cues from it’s competitors to provide a better experience. It’s much easier to navigate and get to where you want to in the PS4. There are some entertainment apps with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Crackle and Sony’s Music Unlimited services. They were there but it plays 2nd fiddle to the gaming experience. The PlayStation 4 doesn’t come with a camera you can purchase the PlayStation Camera (formerly EyeToy) separate and it will give you some motion and voice controls on the PS4. The PlayStation camera has greatly improved and great experience using the PlayRoom app on the PS4. There is also a awesome setup menu for the camera as well. I would really recommend getting the camera if not at initial purchase, down the road.
The PS4 has a second screen experience with the PS Vita. You can link a PS Vita to a PS4 for PS4 Remote Play and you can control your PS4 and play games right from it. It will mirror everything that’s on your PS4 and you can move anywhere in the house and continue play games from your PS4 on the PS Vita. It’s a great feature that I hope they expand more on as right now it’s mostly just mirroring what is on your TV. The PS4 is for those that want a pure gaming experience and their main focus for gaming. The price point I feel is a bit high right now just for that experience. PS4 is the only console that currently doesn’t have a Live TV experience and most of it’s multimedia features are pushed to the background to put gaming in front. Speaking of games the PS4 is going give you over time a great collection of games with decent first party support, a good amount of exclusives and good 3rd party developer support. The console will be best for RPG’s, action adventure and puzzle platform games like Little Big Planet. There currently is no native backwards compatibility. The closes they have currently is a PS4 upgrade fee for certain PS3 games which goes around $10. PS4 games are also available as a digital download or purchased as a physical disc on day of release.
With that said the PS4 is the “gamer’s” console. It’s for those that want to play games and that’s why they purchased the console and having some entertainment features is a bonus more than a necessity. If you have most of your entertainment covered with other devices then the PS4 is an appealing option.
The Nintendo Wii U
The Wii U has been out the longest of this generation of consoles with Nintendo releasing the console a year ahead of the other two. Quite frankly it hasn’t been the best console release for Nintendo but with a year under its belt before the others it’s looking to pick up the pace. The Wii U’s key feature is the Wii U GamePad which features a 6.2 inch touch screen that gives a new dynamic of playing games which are now in HD which Nintendo is finally in the realm of. A lot of unique game play can be done. The Wii U also gives another feature parents will like which is the ability to play games without the TV screen. Games like Super Mario Bros. U can be played on both the TV but also viewed and played on the Wii U GamePad within 30 feet of the console. You can also use most Wii accessories with the Wii U.
The Wii U does have some entertainment aspects to it but it’s probably the weakest currently of the 3 consoles. There is Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime Instant video support but currently no media server and DLNA support which basically means you can’t connect from another tablet, smartphone or PC to it to stream or access content. The Wii U has Nintendo TVii which let’s you control your TV and cable box. It provide a simple guide on the Wii U GamePad but it’s more of an advanced IR blaster then an immerse TV experience. The Wii U also has some online game play but it’s the weakest of the 3 and more of an afterthought for the console.
The Wii U’s strongest point right now is it’s game lineup. Being a year ahead it’s given time for developers to create some great games. They have the strongest first party title lineup against any of its competitors. It has the best backwards compatibility as it supports Wii disc based games and data and game transfer from Wii to Wii U. The Wii U uses physical disc for games but digital copies are also available on the same day the game is released. The Wii U is probably the best local multiplayer console for when you have friends and family over. The games and system are just tailored made for it.
The Wii U is the best at being your second console option. Nintendo knows it doesn’t have the services to compete as a first console like the PS4 and Xbox One but the Wii U is a solid second console option for getting those great Nintendo exclusives and unique game play with that Wii U GamePad. 3rd party developer support will be better than the original Wii but not nearly as good as PS4 and Xbox One. The Wii U would be a great first choice however for those that may already have other devices that provide entertainment and just want something to play games on. It becomes the best value option there and of course kids and families the Wii U give them the best bang for the buck.
As you see all three next gen consoles bring something to the tablet and you’ll be able to see that in greater detail in our video review putting all 3 against each other. You’ll get the most information on each console and know what myself and Ryan Chua have chosen as our next gen system currently. We also have some charts below to give you some detailed comparisons on key specs and features. We’ll be updating this post as new features and updates enhance each console.