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Choosing The Right Video Game System This Holiday Season

By Erik Folgate

Whether you are buying for yourself, loved one, family member, or your kids, video game systems are one of the most exciting gifts to receive. But with the three major choices out there, it can be confusing for those that don’t read the latest gaming magazines. I don’t read the latest gaming magazines, but I’ve played all three systems quite a bit, and I own an Xbox 360. So, here is a little guide for helping you decide which system to buy this holiday season.

The Xbox 360

xbox 360
In my opinion, it’s the best overall system to own. The Xbox does the best job at making it an all-in-one solution for your home entertainment needs. And tomorrow, Xbox will be making a huge upgrade for all Xbox live subscribers to make it easier to watch HD movies and television shows and streem audio/photos from your computer to your xbox system.

The games are great, and the graphics are better. The insides of an xbox are basically a high-powered computer, and its abilty to process extremely complex graphics without hardly ever lagging is what makes Xbox so great. The Xbox live interface is also the best in my opinion. They have a great online marketplace, and the multiplayer servers work well.

The starter Xbox 360 is now going for $199, which will be very attractive for price-conscious buyers this holiday season. Just remember that this version does not come with an attached hard drive. The holiday pro bundle that comes with a 60gb hard drive is $299, and it should come with two games.

The biggest downfall for the Xbox 360 is that it runs like it’s going to blow up. Many users have experienced the dreaded “red rings of death”. When the Xbox overheats to the point that it damages the system, red rings around the power button show up, and you need to send in the Xbox to Microsoft to get fixed or replaced. Also, the accessories are very expensive. The wireless adapter is $99, but I suggest buying any accessories on ebay, craigslist, or discount site such as buy.com or amazon.com.

The PlayStation 3

playstation 3
The PS3 is very similar to the Xbox 360, because it offers many of the same features. I have never used its online environment so if you have a PS3 and use it online, please comment below about your experience with it. I have played the system, and it runs much more efficiently than the Xbox and the graphics and processing are amazing. PS3 is running a little behind on making it an all-in-one system for your home entertaining needs.

As far as prices goes, it’s the most expensive of the “big three” systems. You can pick up the 60gb hard drive version with two games and/or blu-ray discs for $399. The biggest advantage with the playstation 3 is that it plays blu-ray discs. So, if your family was looking to buy a blu-ray disc player this holiday season, and your kids want a new video game system, the PS3 is a great option.

Both the PS3 and Xbox 360 appeal more to teenage boys to middle-aged men. Titles like Call of Duty, Halo, and Gears of War are games that Nintendo’s graphics can’t keep up with and that is why so many teenagers prefer a PS3 or Xbox over the Nintendo Wii.

The Nintendo Wii

nintendo wii
The Nintendo Wii is in a class all by itself. However, Nintendo has done the most annoying thing in the world and systematically manufactured these things making it extremely hard to find for the past three years. Recently, I have found it more often than in the past, so if you’re planning on buying it, buy it now and don’t wait until December.

The Wii Experience is completely different than any other video game system you’ve ever played before. It appeals to three year olds up to 80 year olds. The reason is that Nintendo has the made the Wii extremely easy to use and the interactivity of it appeals to all generations. Plus, it’s a good workout. The boxing game is literally a good cardiovascular workout. And now Nintendo has rolled out the Wii Fit which actually helps you put together a homemade workout plan. You can do an entire yoga class without leaving your house.

The Wii costs a reasonable $249, and the accessories are reasonably priced as well. The games are $49 dollars, compared to $59 for Xbox and PS3 games. If you have an 8 year old who wants a video game system, choose the Wii. If you are wondering what to get a family member or friend who would be intrigued by something like the Wii, then it’s a good choice as a gift. But like I said, if you get your 16 year son a Wii, he might crave certain games that the Wii is not designed to play. Likewise, the Wii is a great joint gift for you and your spouse, but if you are a girl with no desire to play video games, then get your husband an Xbox or PS3.

This isn’t the kind of review guide that you’ll find on the latest technology blog, but it’s an honest analysis based on my opinions about these systems. If you are still confused, I would say go with the Wii. The reason it is so popular is because it appeals to all generations. The games are childish, but highly interactive. And remember, buy video games and accessories at wholesale prices on ebay, craigslist, stores that sell used games, and garage sales. You will save a fortune by saving money on the smaller stuff.

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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Comments

  • http://www.budgetpulse.com Craig

    I’m biased because I have a PS3 but I truly think it is the best system. It has so many great titles to offer, plus a blu-ray player as well as an online system. I know xbox has a great online system set up but the lack of blu-ray makes it less valuable in my mind. I’ve never been a real Wii fan and think it’s more of a novelty and less fun. It gets boring after awhile.

    Craig
    www.budgetpulse.com

  • http://scarthingwell.co.uk Scarthingwell

    I’ve just bought a Wii for my daughters birthday (she’s 9) and the whole family loves it. The childishness of the games is actually a PLUS point, but I can see it would not suit a hardcore gamer teenaged boy.

  • author

    @Craig – it’s a good debate. There are definitely advantages to the ps3 over xbox and the blu ray is definitely one of them. However, the xbox does upconvert DVD’s to near high-def, so only the real tech savvy individual may want the clarity and crispness of blu-ray.

    @scarthingwell – yeah, the Wii is a blast for the whole family. it definitely is a great way for the whole family to have a good time together, which is always a good thing.

  • http://www.thewriterscoin.com Writer’s Coin

    I think the XBox 360 at this new price point is going to be a smash during these holidays…especially with the games it has. I mean, now it’s cheaper than the Wii. Hardcore gamers rejoice!
    I have a Wii and I went to Gamestop and checked out the Xbox 360 version of Madden that I own on the Wii and I was blown away.

  • author

    yeah, that’s because Wii graphics are at 480p. I was amazed when I saw that the standard hookup for The Wii is the regular A/V cables and not component video. All new Xbox’s come with HDMI hook up and component video if you don’t have an HDMI port. XBox and PS3 support 720p and 1080p resolutions

  • ekrabs

    I ended up with an Xbox because I’ve got friends and family on Live and it makes great sense for people who wants to play online (short of PC gaming).

    I believe the Xbox is also capable of 1080p, although I currently have it hooked up to a computer monitor that provides a stunning native resolution of 1280×1024, and running very smoothly.

    Although the Experience has provided an interesting addition to its user interface, admittedly, it will not provide 1080p content quite like the way a Blu-Ray can.

    On the other hand, there’s on-going controversy about the viability of Blu-Ray in light of simply having HD downloaded to hard drive or high capacity flash memory. Bandwidth remains a serious stumbling block, but these avenues are usually also much cheaper than the Blu-Ray route. We’ll have to see.

    I think the biggest knock against the PS3 right now is the lack of games, especially exclusive titles. Maybe it’s not a big deal for casual gamers, but this isn’t the Wii, and from a business standpoint, Sony is having a hard time of things because of this limitation, which is partly Sony’s own fault for moving their system to a proprietary Cell technology that ended up being harder to code than the more familiar x86 architecture found on the XBox.

    Ah, the Wii. What can I say? It’s a beautiful system for casual gamers or for the whole family. Don’t expect a whole lot of whiz bang, but then, it was never designed to be bleeding edge. It was simply designed to be affordable and fun, and I think the system has succeeded beyond even Nintendo’s own wildest imagination.

    So, in the end, my own opinion is to buy the Xbox for the online gaming experience, the PS3 for the electronic-phile who prefers a Blu-Ray and the occasional single player gaming (with Resistance 2 being one of those notable exceptions), and the Wii for casual family fun.

  • http://www.friv2juegos.co/ jacobdollin

    There are many major video game consoles available on the market today. It can be very challenging to select which one is the best for you. I am really very impressed by your guidance on choosing the right video game console which could be very beneficial for video game buyers.

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