The new generation of console wars is finally here. For the third time Microsoft and Sony will go head to head for console market share, but with the third iteration of this duel the stakes are higher than ever before.
The two companies are no longer battling for the top spot as a gaming console. They are battling for the top spot in the entire living room entertainment market. Even the marketing for both consoles attempts to encompass a larger swath of the population. It’s not just the games anymore. It’s the streaming, the live television, the applications and, in general, the overarching experience that draws people to the consoles of today.
These aren’t the old consoles. They aren’t marketing toward pimple faced 13 year olds – you don’t even have to play video games to get your moneys worth from a PS4 or XBox One. But who does ‘entertainment’ better?
Sony and XBox seem to have settled for opposite design philosophies when it comes to the look of their console. While the PS4 continues down the sleek, ‘futuristic’ look that we have come to expect from Playstation, the XBox One features an almost retro design – reminiscent of a 1990s VCR player.
The XBox One is big and clunky, but not necessary ‘bad’ looking. It’s well designed, but features a much boxier shape than that of its rival. The PS4 features a parallelogram shape that is much more obvious when it’s sitting in front of you.
In the end, the ‘better’ design is a matter of preference. They both look great and achieve the style that they were going for. As far as functionality, the PS4 certainly takes up less space, and seems to be more comfortable sitting on its end.
If there is one thing this generation of gaming consoles will be known for – it will be taking media integration to the next level. Both companies attempted to garner a larger interest from the general non-gaming public with their new consoles, offering a wealth of applications and integrated media that makes them a more valuable and worthwhile experience for anyone. Even your Grandma.
Microsoft placed particular importance on the entertainment and media integration aspects of their console. As you would expect – it contains all of the typical bells and whistles. You can watch Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or any number of the popular content delivery applications. However, where Microsoft truly stands out is in their television integration. With a simple click of a button you can switch straight to your television programming, without even having to push your TV’s ‘input’ button. The XBox One lets you organize all of your favorite TV shows, whether they are on live TV, downloaded or streaming, in an easy to use interface that does a good job of tying different content delivery methods together. You can flip from the game you are playing to live TV, to the Netflix show that you are streaming with no interruption or progress lost. Although the integrated media is not without its problems – sometimes it can be difficult to tell what apps are open, but overall the XBox One does a stellar job of handling media.
While the PS4 does mimic some of these features, it handles media a lot like its predecessor did. It doesn’t feature the integration with live TV, but does allow you to switch between games and streaming apps without losing any progress in your game. The PS4 handles media adequately, but definitely doesn’t go above and beyond like the XBox One.
As has been the case throughout the previous console wars – both companies went for exceptionally powered hardware, looking as much to the future as they are the present. They want to make sure that their consoles will be able to handle graphical improvement for years to come.
Both consoles use a custom AMD APU with an 8-core Jaguar CPU, and a Radeon 7000 series GPU. The two CPUs are for all intents and purposes, identical. Recent tests have shown the XBox One clocked at a speedy 1.75 GHz, with the PS4 falling just behind at 1.6 GHz. Honestly, while it might be nice to know that you have an extra bit of juice, your average user won’t notice the difference.
Even their GPUs are very similar, with the PS4s being more powerful. The PS4 GPU is most often compared to the Radeon HD 7790, which provides them with a bit more power in terms of compute units, at 18. The XBox One GPU is most often compared to the Radeon HD 7790 which has 12 compute units. Additionally, Microsoft has said that at least 10% of their processing power will be dedicated to the Kinect, which widens the gap a bit.
In the end, despite advantages and disadvantages on either side – the games come out looking about the same. The PS4 has more raw graphics power, but due to restrictions that come with designing for multiple consoles, the difference may only be visible when looking closely at PS4 exclusives.
In the end, the consoles are similar enough that your choice should come down to preference more than anything else. Each console stands out in different ways. Do you plan on mostly using your console to watch TV shows or stream Netflix? The XBox One might be the right choice for you then. Are you a hardcore gamer looking for the ultimate experience? Playstation 4’s exclusives, like those from masterpiece-making Naughty Dog might be enough to lure you to Sony.
There are very few standout features that would cause previous XBox 360 and PS3 owners to jump ship. I’d imagine that most will stay with what they are most comfortable with, aside from those that jumped ship following the XBox One announcement fiasco that drew a lot of attention.
In a world where set-top boxes and integrated living room entertainment have become so prominent, there are more reasons than ever to get your hands on a console. Both the XBox One and PS4 do an excellent job of providing a seamless experience that can help to take your living room to the next level.