FanPost

2/19/14 OT: Console Wars


Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Top Consoles Compared

Next-gen is now this-gen, and the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are armed for a true head-to-head battle. 5.1Kshares

XBox vs. PS4 update

The wait is over. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are here. They're ready. They're available. And they're inevitably going to be compared with one another. If you want to get a new video game system, these two are the frontrunners of the current generation, with several years of games ahead of them and loads of new hardware and features. We put the Xbox One and PS4 against each other in a variety of categories to determine which system comes out on top.

Price
The PlayStation 4 is a full $100 less expensive than the Xbox One, winning the price war decisively. Depending on your gaming preferences, you might actually see savings greater than $100 by getting the PS4 over the Xbox One.

Both Microsoft and Sony offer premium subscriptions to their online services. Xbox users can get a year of Xbox Live Gold for $60, and PlayStation users can get a year of PS Plus for $50. For both systems, this premium service is required to play multiplayer games online. However, the Xbox One also requires Xbox Live Gold to use any online media services or the OneGuide feature, as well. The PS4 can run Netflix, Hulu Plus, and other apps without a PS Plus membership. PS Plus can still be beneficial to gamers of all stripes, though, since it tends to offer many more and varied free (as part of the subscription) games than Xbox Live Gold currently does.

Winner: PlayStation 4

Hardware
Now that both systems are out, arguing about the technical specifications seems moot. On paper, the PlayStation 4 has a slight edge thanks to using GDDR5 RAM instead of the DDR3 RAM used in the Xbox One, but besides that their hardware is incredibly similar. Both have 8-core AMD CPUs, 8GB of memory, 500GB internal hard drives, and Blu-ray optical drives.

Because of differing architectures and operating systems, benchmarking and directly comparing the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 is effectively impossible. They're so similar we can't declare one to be superior based on specs, and they're different enough that we can't directly compare performance. At this point, it's up to developers to get the most out of either console, and whether one truly shines as more powerful will only be revealed with new games and how they perform. Different games might run at 720p or 1080p, or 30fps or 60fps, between the different systems. But there's no single, set winner here.

Winner: Tie

Controls
You need a good gamepad to play games, and both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have them. The Xbox One gamepad is a slightly updated version of the Xbox 360 controller, with a slightly more rounded feel and trigger buttons that offer individual force feedback. The DualShock 4, the PS4's gamepad, is a completely overhauled controller that keeps the best parts of the DualShock 3 gamepad and fixes the worst. The analog sticks feel better, the triggers are more responsive, and the controller just feels nicer in the hand. It even features a built-in speaker and a potentially useful but so far underutilized touchpad in the middle. The only problem with the DualShock 4 is the light bar that marks which controllers are on and assigned to which players. You can't turn off the light bar or even dim it, and if your HDTV is glossy you'll probably catch an irritating glare from it if you don't cover it up.

The Xbox One gamepad is great, but the DualShock 4 is outright excellent with a few irritating or puzzling features. Neither should be considered a deal-breaker because they both play very well, but the DualShock 4 is simply the most comfortable gamepad we've tested yet.

Winner: PlayStation 4

Games
The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are each less than a year old, and that means they're both dealing with the early doldrums known as the launch lineup. Each system has a handful of excellent games, but the best titles are coming in the next year or two.

Most major games are available for both systems, like the Call of Duty, Battlefield, Assassin's Creed, and Madden franchises. Each console has a few notable exclusives, though. The Xbox One boasts Killer Instinct, Dead Rising 3, and Forza Motorsport 5. The PlayStation 4 has the less impressive Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack. Neither set of exclusives is enough to justify the purchase yet, and upcoming titles look much more interesting than what's available now. The Xbox One will get the highly anticipated Titanfall, while the PlayStation 4 will get less notable but still intriguing The Order: 1886, InFamous: Second Son, and Driveclub. Expect the biggest games of the next year (excluding Xbox One and Windows-exclusive Titanfall) to be cross-platform titles, though.

Winner: Tie

Online Services
Whether you want to play games online or watch Netflix, you need to connect your game system to the Internet. The Xbox One uses Xbox Live, and the PlayStation 4 uses the PlayStation Network to access online services. In both cases, you need to purchase the premium subscription plan (Xbox Live Gold for Xbox Live, PS Plus for PlayStation Network) to play games online. However, for streaming media services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, only the Xbox One requires Xbox Live Gold. You can use any app on the PlayStation 4 without a PS Plus membership. PS Plus also offers some better benefits than Xbox Live Gold thanks to a regular rotating list of free games. Xbox Live Gold has a handful of free titles, but PS Plus offers more and refreshes them more often.

Winner: PlayStation 4

Camera
The Xbox One includes the Kinect camera, which provides voice control and facial recognition for the system and offers several useful features. The PlayStation 4 doesn't include a camera, but the optional PlayStation Camera offers similar functionality. The PlayStation 4's voice controls are much less flexible or sophisticated than the Xbox One. Microsoft's console is also the only one that can use Skype, and without video chat there's little reason to consider spending the extra $60 on the PS4's camera.

Winner: Xbox One

Media Features
Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 can play Blu-ray movies and access a variety of online services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. The Xbox One goes an extra step with its television integration. An HDMI passthrough lets you run your cable or satellite box through the Xbox One, and an infrared blaster in the Kinect can control it. This incorporates live television through your cable or satellite provider into the Xbox One's menu system, giving Kinect-based voice control over live television. The OneGuide program guide displays both live television and what content is available on services like Hulu Plus and Machinima, giving you total control over what you watch without having to pick up a remote or a gamepad. Even if you don't want to use voice controls to change channels, you can simply enjoy a split screen view of what's on television while you play your favorite game or browse the Web, thanks to the Xbox One's Snap feature. In bringing all of your home entertainment together into one HDMI input, the Xbox One wins by far.

Winner: Xbox One

Totals
By the numbers, the PlayStation 4 wins. Of course, "by the numbers" assumes no weighting between categories, which makes simply tallying points meaningless. The PlayStation 4 has an edge in price and a much nicer (if irritatingly lit) controller, but the Xbox One jumps far ahead in media features if you don't mind both the $100 extra on the system and the $60 per year for a subscription to Xbox Live Gold. The PlayStation 4 is economically superior as a pure gaming system, but the Xbox One is superior as a comprehensive media hub that doubles as a game system. Either way, as always, the biggest determining factor should be which games you want to play, and which platform will have them.

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