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CostHelper > All Electronics > Game Consoles > Home Game Systems

Home Game Systems Prices, Reviews and Specifications


Home game consoles can do much more than conventional gaming. For example, game consoles can stream online content through Netflix, and the PS3 doubles as a Blu-Ray player. Game consoles also offer online content including downloadable games, movies, music and TV episodes.

Microsoft Xbox 360

Microsoft's Xbox 360 console was designed with online competitive gaming in mind. The Xbox 360 has top-of-the-line graphics quality and allows for gaming in high definition -- although don't expect that out of box; buying extra cords is necessary.

Microsoft charges for access to online content, with a minimum annual subscription fee of about $50-$60. The subscription plan covers online gaming, but users can also access downloadable games, movies, TV shows and other content.

Microsoft offers customers the option of purchasing the console all or once or signing up for a subscription plan. With the subscription plan, a 4GB Xbox bundle is sold for $99, but customers must agree to 2-year contract for Xbox Live at a cost of $15 per month. The total cost including the 2-year commitment comes to $460 for the option of paying over time; purchased all at once, the same package would cost $360.

[See Prices, Reviews and Specifications]
Microsoft Xbox One

Microsoft announced its next generation console, the Xbox One, in May 2013, following on the heels of PlayStation 4 news and the Wii U release.

The Xbox One is aiming to be an all-in-one entertainment device that can merge live TV with online gaming. For example, in a special deal with the National Football League, Xbox is able to make watching games interactive by, for example, updating fantasy scores live and bragging about it to online friends. It would also offer access to viewing player stats and watching highlight reels.

In another exclusive deal, between Microsoft and Call of Duty manufacturer Activision, Xbox One owners will have access to Call of Duty content before anybody else.

In addition, the Xbox One will have the ability to play Blu-ray discs, a feature that Sony offered on PlayStation 3. The Xbox One comes with an upgraded Kinect bar that boasts better voice recognition and motion sensors. The operating system is also upgraded and appears with a Windows 8-type of style.

Microsoft said the Xbox One will require a 24-hour Internet connection to allow for the necessary daily updates. In addition, Microsoft has stated the Xbox One will place restrictions on used games and game sharing among friends.

Microsoft expects to roll out the Xbox One ahead of the holiday season, but many stores have it available for preorders. [See Prices, Reviews and Specifications]

Nintendo Wii

Update: Nintendo dropped the price of the Wii by $20 ahead of the launch of Wii U in Octber 2012. The Wii, now priced at $130, includes Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort games.

The Nintendo Wii, which debuted in 2006, features wireless motion-sensor controllers. It was designed to attract a wider demographic than its higher-priced competitors, the Xbox 360 and Playstation3, and appeals to more nontraditional gamers in addition to those considered typical gamers. The Wii console's library of games offers easy-to-learn games that make the console popular in senior centers and other unexpected places.

The Wii is the only system that comes standard with motion controllers, which allow players to swing like it's a bat when playing baseball or use it as a magic wand in a magical wizarding game. Of all three major consoles, the Wii is by far the least expensive, but also has the lowest-quality graphics.

Nintendo offers popular console exclusive games including Mario Kart, Super Mario Galaxy, Legend of Zelda, Metroid Prime and Donkey Kong Country. [See Prices, Reviews and Specifications]

Nintendo Wii U

With Wii U, which arrives in time for the 2012 holiday season, Nintendo changes basic gaming and incorporates media in new ways. Wii U introduces the Game Pad, new game controller that has both a touch-screen that interacts with the screen and a traditional navigational buttons. Although there will be games in the future that make use of multiple GamePads, the controllers will not be available for individual sale initially.

The Wii U does offer some backward compatibility for Wii owners, and allows up to four Wii remote and nunchucks to be used in conjunction with the game pad. Although the Wii allowed use of Game Cube games, the Wii U does not.

Unlike the original Wii, Wii U gives viewers multiple media options including control of live TV. Wii U also allows video streaming through Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

Initially, Wii U will be available in two sets: The Basic set includes the game console, GamePad, a GamePad stylus and a sensor bar; the Deluxe version adds Nintendo Land video game, a GamePad cradle and stand, and a console stand. The basic model comes with an 8GB console; deluxe has 32GB of internal storage.

Wii U is available November 18 and Nintendo is allowing preorders ahead of the launch date. [See Prices, Reviews and Specifications]


OUYA is the first Android-based home game console. Created through a Kickstarter project, OUYA quickly gained funding, and is available both online and through big-box retailers. But Kickstarter campaign funders receive early models, which begin shipping in late March.

The OUYA game console is priced at less than $100 and comes with a single controller that operates with a Bluetooth connection. The console itself is small and black, about the size of a Rubik's cube. All games are downloaded and are free to try -- there are no discs or cartridges.

Games are played in full HD and connect through HDMI. The controller runs on two AA batteries and comes with removable faceplates.

The OUYA game console is made for developers and home hackers: Users are able to root the device, or access and modify files normally not accessible on a device, without voiding the warranty.

[See Prices, Reviews and Specifications]
Sony PlayStation 3

The PlayStation 3, which originally debuted in 2006, is the third release in Sony's PlayStation series. The console comes in two main storage capacity sizes (160GB and 320GB) and is the only gaming console that doubles as a Blu-ray DVD player. The console, like its Microsoft-based competitor, Xbox 360, attracts a hardcore gamer audience, and the range of titles offered reflects that demographic.

PlayStation provides free basic access to its online content on the PlayStation Network, but also has an upgraded subscription-based service, PlayStation Network Plus, which offers added features such as early releases and full game free trials. But, in the past year, the PlayStation Network was repeatedly hacked, exposing users' personal information.

[See Prices, Reviews and Specifications]
Sony PlayStation 4

Sony announced the PS4 in mid-February 2013, but the model is not expected to hit the market until the 2013 holiday season but many stores allow consumer to preorder. Most tech experts predict a mid-November release, but a specific date is not available.

The PS4 itselt is expected to cost about $400. Game titles are likely to cost about $60.

Shared gaming was central to the introduction of the PS4, with developers creating ways for gamers to share the gaming experience -- both through live shared streams and uploads of game triumphs.

The PS4 will have access to the PlayStation Network, which provides downloadable content and streaming services (such as movies and music). Unlike the Xbox One. the PS4 will not require a 24-hour connection to the Internet. In addition, PS4 will allow gamers to purchase and play used games on the system, without restrictions. [See Prices, Reviews and Specifications]