The time to buy an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 is now. Both consoles are competitively priced and there’s finally a solid collection of excellent games to play on either system.

Holiday pricing has either console at around $300, but odds are you can get one any time for no more than $350 with a bundled game or two.

So which console is right for you? That’s not an easy question to answer and a lot of it will depend on your personal preference. That said, here’s a bunch of details you should know that will ensure you’ll be able to make an educated decision when the time is right (which, if you’ve been paying attention, is right now).


PS4 exclusive “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End”

Naughty Dog


This part is easy. Take a look and consider each console’s list of exclusive games and see which appeals most to you. Are you a Halo, Gears of War and Forza Motorsport type of player? Well then, the Xbox One is your console. More of a fan of Uncharted and games like The Last Guardian and Bloodborne? Then PS4 is the way to go.

It’s worth noting that the PS4 offers many more independent games compared with the Xbox One’s library, so if that’s a sticking point PS4 will have you covered. Xbox One isn’t totally devoid of indie titles, it’s just not as fleshed out at the moment.

What about your friends?

This may seem like a no-brainer, but find out which consoles your friends are playing. If online gaming is important to you and you want to enjoy that with friends, this is quite the important detail to consider.

Legacy support and backward compatibility

Xbox One offers limited backward compatibility with a selection of games (which is promised to grow) as long as you own the original disc. You can also download legacy 360 titles through Xbox Live as well. PS4 offers PlayStation Now, a subscription streaming service that has improved since its launch in addition to PS2 emulation support that is slowly trickling out.


The new Xbox One experience


Overall experience

Last generation I was partial to the Xbox 360, but this time around I lean toward the PS4. Here’s why:

Multiplatform games tend to perform better on the PS4 and installation time for games is noticeably quicker. Capturing footage, screenshots and sharing these items is more seamless on the PS4. I also like the PS4’s interface over the Xbox One’s, even though Microsoft has recently revamped its console’s dashboard for the better. Long story short, I find PS4 easier to use.

The Xbox One offers more streaming multimedia apps than the PS4, but the big ones like Netflix, Amazon and HBO Go are available on both platforms.

There’s a lot of the same

The Venn diagram representing PS4 versus Xbox One has tons of overlap. Both consoles play the vast majority of games out there, so choosing one over the other won’t block you out of a lot of content. They both play Blu-rays and DVDs as well as media files off a home network or USB stick.

The Xbox One lets you expand storage via an external USB drive, while the PS4’s internal drive can be completely swapped out.

Both consoles have great controllers, too, both significantly improved over their predecessors.

The alternatives

The Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 aren’t the only games in town. Let’s not forget about Nintendo’s Wii U. It’s not necessarily in the same conversation as the Xbox One and PS4 when it comes to breadth of content and horsepower, but 2015 was a great year for the platform. Wii U games tend to serve a younger demographic, so it’s worth considering if children make up the primary audience. That said, the company is hard at work at a new platform code-named NX that may start to surface in 2016.

Then there’s the PC. PC gaming makes up a huge chunk of the industry and can provide the best overall experience if you’ve got the right hardware. Where consoles stay static for their entire life cycle, a PC can be upgraded and refined.

If you’re willing to spend a bit more than what consoles go for, you can vastly improve your gaming experience with a middle-of-the-road PC.

There’s also the Steam Machines (or Steamboxes), a PC wrapped up to resemble a console, but runs either Windows or Steam OS, (made by Valve, the company behind the world’s most popular PC game marketplace, Steam). We don’t tend to recommend these devices because of their hardware limitations, but it’s also another option to consider.


Valve’s PC gaming distribution platform, Steam, is incredibly popular.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The best consumer is an educated one. Read our PlayStation 4 and Xbox One reviews and check out the list of exclusive games for each console. If you’re really in a bind, reach out to me on Twitter and we’ll see if we can get you sorted out.

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Xbox One vs. PS4: Choose the right console for you – CNET