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Games Consoles buying guide

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Introduction to Games Consoles

Whether you have children or just enjoy playing games, today’s game consoles offer some of the most realistic action and the widest game variety ever. Due to advancements in technology, you can enjoy a level of interactive play never before seen. Whether you want a handheld game like Nintendo DS or one that connects to your television like Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, or XBox 360, you’ll enjoy a new level of gaming.

Wii packages like Wii Fit or Wii Family Ski get you up and moving, helping you stay in shape while you enjoy your games. PlayStation comes with a built-in bluray player, expanding your home entertainment options. Take advantage of Nintendo DS brain training to keep your mind young and sharp.

Although Atari helped spawn the home video game industry with the commercial success of their Pong game in 1975, they were far from the first video game. Earlier games existed, dating back to the earliest patent issued in 1947. With simple graphics and limited actions, those early video games have little in common with today’s high-tech games, offering 3-D action, theater-quality sound, and seemingly endless levels of play.

Choosing between game consoles can be confusing due to the wide selection. Price Inspector is here to help, both in deciding between game systems and finding the best price. We shop UK stores to find you the cheapest price, helping you buy the best game console at the best price.

Nintendo Wii

Nintendo’s Wii (pronounced “we”) is designed for a broader demographic appeal than its main competitors, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It is distinguished by its wireless controller, called the Wii Remote, which is used in a variety of ways in different games. It is Nintendo’s successor to the GameCube, and it can play all GameCube games.

The Wii focuses on player interaction, rather than a powerful console. Since its introduction, Wii sales have exceeded their competition around the world, with demand sometimes outpacing supply. Wii’s success has been attributed to attracting entirely new gamers, rather than simply winning players from their competition.

The Wii is the smallest home console from Nintendo to date, measuring 44 mm wide, 157 mm tall, and 215.4 mm (8.48 in) deep, about the equivalent of three DVDs stacked together. It’s also the lightest of the three major consoles, weighing 1.2 kg. The illuminated media drive on the front accepts 12 cm discs from either Wii or GameCube, and the console offers two USB ports and an SD card slot.

The Wii starter package includes the game console and a stand to hold the console upright. It also includes a Wii Remote, a Nunchuk attachment, a Sensor bar, an external power adapter, a SCART adapter, and a copy of the Wii Sports game. Wii does not play DVDs, although there has been rumours for years that the next generation would offer this function. The console has been available so far only in white, but black systems should be released in Europe in late 2009.

One of the advancements of Wii is the Wii Fit Balance Board. The wireless accessory uses pressure sensors to measure the player’s balance. It opens up the player for several fitness activities, including yoga and strength training.

The Wii game console offers 512 megabytes of internal memory, and the SD card slot offers external storage. The player can use the SD card to upload photos or to back-up saved games, as well as downloading additional games. You can also use the SD card to customize the in-game music. Although Nintendo has not released complete specs, estimates indicate that the Wii is the least powerful of the major game consoles.

Playstation 3

PlayStation 3 (abbreviated as PS3) from Sony is the successor to the PlayStation 2 gaming system, and its main competitors are Xbox 360 from Microsoft and the Nintendo Wii. Its distinguishing features include an online gaming service, known as the PlayStation Network. It can connect to the PlayStation Portable (PSP), and uses a Blu-Ray Disc as its primary storage.

Although early reviews were critical of its high price, PS3’s hardware capabilities were commended. After the price has dropped and Blu-Ray technology has become more widespread, the system has received much better reviews. PS3 is regarded as a versatile home entertainment package, with robust graphics and stylish design. Many reviewers feel that Sony is offering the best hardware of the competition.

PS3 features a two-speed Blu-ray Disc drive for games, movies, and CDs. It is available with hard drives of 20, 40, 60, and 80 GB in different regions, and all models offer hard drives that are user upgradeable.

All current models have Bluetooth, Ethernet, and USB built in. Wi-Fi networking is included on some models, while a flash card reader is available on others. Up to 7 Bluetooth controllers can be used at once. PS3’s operating system can be updated through direct download from an active Internet connection. Another alternative is to use an external PC, download updates to portable media, and install it on the system. Also, some games include system updates on the gaming disc, if the game requires an update to properly run.

Xbox 360

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is the Xbox successor, competion with PlayStation 3 and Wii. Its most prominent feature is the integrated Xbox Live gaming service that lets players compete online, as well as download games, demos, TV shows, trailers, and movies. Another major feature is multimedia capability, supporting online movie rentals and game downloads.

There are two standard variations: Xbox 360 Arcade and Xbox 360 Elite. Arcade is the entry-level, replacing the Xbox 360 Core. It inclues a wireless controller, AV cable, internal 256 MB memory, and 5 game titles. Elite is a more expensive console, with a 120 GB hard drive. In addition to the two wireless controllers, Elite is packaged with a matching headset.

The main unit of Xbox 360 is available in either white or black. It offers top port that accepts an external hard drive unit. Its core memory is 512 MB. There are several optional accessories available, such as wired or wireless controllers, customizable faceplates, headsets, web cams, and dance mats. Three sizes of hard drives are also available, in 120GB, 60GB, and 20GB.

Xbox 360 console can play videos, display pictures, and display slideshows with different transitions. The media can be played from USB storage devices Xbox 360 devices, or computers with Windows Media Center or Windows XP Service Pack 2 software. It also supports audio playbacks using an interactive visual synthesizer. The newest update is that users in the UK and Ireland can access live and on-demand streaming Sky television programs.

Things to consider when buying a new games console

  • Whichever game system you are considering buying, first take a look at the games that are available. Most games are available for several different platforms, but there are some titles that will be exclusive to one player or another. For example, Mario games are Wii or DS because they’re Nintendo, while Jak and Daxter will be PS3 or PSP because those characters are exclusive to Sony.
  • Game consoles are primarily for game playing; however, consider whether the added features such as PS3’s Blu-Ray player will be worth the extra money. For example, if you were planning to buy a Blu-Ray player anyway, this would save money and be one less component to connect.
  • Nintendo is generally the most kid-friendly option if you have young children. The Wii games are more family-oriented, less violent. However, teenagers may prefer a PS3 or Xbox, with better graphics and faster processors. Wii is also more motion-oriented, if you want to encourage your family to be active rather than sedentary while playing.
  • Overall, you can’t go too wrong by choosing any of the three major brands. All three have been making good products for decades, shouldn’t go out of business in the near future, and shouldn’t become obsolete a week after you buy it. All receive high marks for fun and playability. Just review the descriptions for each, pick the one that seems right for you and your family, and let the Price Inspector help you find the best price.

Jargon Buster

PlatformThe specific computer or electronic hardware that operates a video game. Also commonly referred to as the “system.” Some of the major “platforms” in today’s market are Wii, PSP, PS3, Xbox, and DS.
Console gameConsole games are gaming systems that connect to your television, as opposed to using your home computer system to power the game or a handheld, portable game.
GenresLike other media forms, video games are classified into genres. For games, the divisions may be made based on goals and style of play. Some common genres may be horror, war, racing, family oriented, etc.
Megabytes (MB) and Gigabytes (GB)Gigabyte refers to 1 billion bytes of information, and megabyte refers to 1 million bytes. The more information the video game can process, the better the graphics and speed of the game.
Buying Guide to Games Consoles
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