XBOX360 or PS3 (Part 1)?

There’s no right or wrong answer as to which console you should choose or which is the best.  How do you define best? On technical prowess, usability, price, total cost of ownership or game availability?   It’s all very subjective as both consoles have advantages and disadvantages.  Ultimately your decision will probably be biased by friends and family to which console they own.  Would you buy an XBOX if all your friends are playing Modern Warfare or Black Ops on a PS3?  It really boils down to your requirements and which model fulfils your needs.

Anyone reading this will have an opinion.  I will share my experience of owning both consoles, and what I think is important to me as a gamer.

First things first, I’m comparing the new XBOX360 Slim 250Gb against the new PS3 160Gb Slim model.

What’s in the box?

XBOX360 – 250Gb Slim

PS3 – 160Gb

XBOX Console
Power Supply
Wireless Game Controller
Headset
Batteries
A/V Cables (Scart/Component no HDMI)
Ethernet Cable
PS3 Console
Power Lead
Wireless Six-Axis Game Control and USB Cable
A/V Cables (Scart/Component no HDMI)

Prices of both consoles vary, but as a general guide an XBOX 250Gb with games bundle will set you back around £200, a PS3 160Gb with Games Bundle approx £250.

Observations.

Both manufacturers omit a HDMI cable which is required for High Definition gaming, the PS3 game controller is re-chargeable by one of the two USB port located at the front of the console.  This means out of the box, you need to keep the machine switched on to complete a charging cycle of your new controller, or purchase a controller docking station and charger.  XBOX on the other hand, uses standard AA batteries, but you will probably want to invest in a rechargeable battery pack for this.

Both consoles offer wireless network connections, however XBOX do provide an Ethernet cable to connect to your router if you prefer.

XBOX

The XBOX controller feels sturdy and well made, the inclusion of a headset is welcome for on-line gaming, or chatting to your mates. 

The controller is well made, the controls are in a logical order and I’ve yet to break one.

PS3

The PS3 does not include a headset as standard, therefore, you are required to purchase an additional blue-tooth headset.  Apparently you can try and use an old mobile phone Bluetooth headset (Don’t ask me how!).

The PS3 controller does feel flimsily made, however it’s not broken yet.  It offers six axis control, which means you can tilt or shake the controller, all the buttons are pressure sensitive this means greater control for gamers.

In my opinion, out of the box, the XBOX offers greater value for money as you don’t have to purchase additional accessories or need to leave your console on (Not Energy Efficient), you can literally start playing out of the box.

How Silent is Silent?

Both boxes claim to be whisper quiet.  The new XBOX slim is certainly a major improvement on its predecessor, however it is let down by the rather noisy power supply fan.  You are likely to notice this when watching a film.  Not so much when getting your CoD on!

The PS3 is the quietest of the two consoles, provided that the blu-ray drive is not running, and is barely audible when playing games or watching movies.

The XBOX Live vs PS3 Store Experience

You will probably want to download many of the free game demos and maybe make a purchase from their on-line stores.  The two boxes can not be so different in experience.

For the XBOX, you are presented with an on-line Game Store and a selection of weekly deals with games discount.  I’m a pinball fan, therefore I will use as my benchmark.

On the XBOX, I selected Pinball FX 2 made by Zen studios.  I can download the demo, and on a 4mb, it took a couple of minutes to complete.  Once downloaded, I was playing the demo straight away, no delay.  I decided that I liked the game that I would purchase the full version.  Within the game itself, I clicked to purchase, a short download later ~2Kb (Presumably a licence key) and the game was fully unlocked and I could continue the game where I left off.

On the PS3.  A different experience all together.  Once I could navigate to the game store via the Cross Media Bar (XMB) and locate the Pinball game by Zen Studios, I downloaded the demo (~95mb).  This took approx 30 minutes to download and tied my console up whilst I had to wait for the download to complete.  Once the download completed, the game had to install itself, when the game started, it stated that an update was available and proceeded to download it, another 40 minutes for a 90mb download, which again had to install itself.

The issue wasn’t my broadband speed, the PS3 game store is slow, Microsoft have clearly invested in their infrastructure for distributing games online.

image

It was nearly 90 minutes after selecting the demo game to actually playing it, during which time my PS3 was tied up, and I actually fell asleep waiting for it.

The game on the other hand was on-par with the XBOX version, however it did have a set of unique tables compared to the XBOX.  So I thought, I’ll buy it.  Clicking on the in-game purchase icon, exited the game, eventually loaded up the PS Store, and within 15 minutes, the purchase was complete!

Now the pain really began.  The App store, insisted on downloading the full version of the game.  Another 90 minutes wasted.  The game then had to install itself, realise an update was available, download that and install it again.  This took around two hours, by which time I’d gone to bed and left it, to it’s own devices.

Microsoft have recognised that gamers don’t have much patience when it comes to purchasing digital content, and have optimised this extremely well and in short :-

  • Games can be queued and download in the background.
  • Games can continue downloading when you switch your console off.
  • Games can easily be found, searched for, and a good selection of new titles brought to your attention for download.
  • Free games videos, and video magazine brought to you by Microsoft with gamers tips, guides, reviews etc.  It has quite a good community spirit and is free.
  • Once a game is downloaded, it’s instantly ready to play.
  • The full game from XBLA can be purchased in-game, you don’t necessarily lose your position in the game, and is relatively quick and painless experience.

Playstation on the other hand

  • Games can be downloaded in the background, however the option is not always available.
  • Games can not be queued and downloaded when the console is switched off.
  • Game updates, tend to be quite sizeable, and the PS Store is a very painful, cumbersome and slow experience.
  • Games need to be installed once downloaded.
  • Some game demos are only licenced for 24 hours once downloaded.  I found this out when downloading a pool game, I returned a couple of weeks later to try it, only to find it had expired and there’s nothing you can do about it.
  • There is an on-line magazine with games news, reviews and tips, however you have to pay 99p per issue (XBOX this is free)

Microsoft in my opinion, have listened to what gamers want/need and tailored the experience to meet those demands, integrating their store to minimise delay is a good move.

Playstation on the other hand, seem to penalise gamers for choosing their platform and store, with slow and painful download, install, and upgrade experience.

Video

Both boxes provide video support.  XBOX and PS3 will upscale DVD, however where the PS3 is ahead is with its support for Blu-Ray.  And if you need a blu-ray player, this may factor into your buying, though you can get a blu-ray player for less than £100 these days.

Both stores also offer video on demand services.  Where you can purchase or rent video content.  The XBOX has an advantage in that it supports Sky Player and so there is a range of movies, sports channels etc available to watch.  PS3 has BBC iPlayer support.

Again in my opinion the XBOX offers better Video on Demand support and Sky Player is a bonus.  The cost of renting/buying digital content is cheaper on XBOX than PS3 also.  (At least for the items I was interested in.)

Both boxes, do permit streaming video from your home network, using Windows Media Player, or DLNA service installed on your PC for which Windows Media Player does the trick, both boxes implement this very well, but also rely on your PC/Mac running in the background.

Both boxes also support streaming video from flash storage/portable harddrives, iPod’s Zunes and so forth…

More information coming up in Part 2, feel free to agree/disagree as you see fit.

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