When it comes to buying a new gaming console, it can seem like choices are endless. Whether you like a particular type of game or a particular type of experience, there is an ideal console out there for you. In this handy guide, we’ll help you find the one that suits you best.

Casual Gaming: Nintendo Classic
Oftentimes it seems like we focus on the high-tech, high-resolution, newest and next-level games and consoles. But remember the simpler time when a pixilated Donkey Kong was exactly what you needed in between episodes of Saved by the Bell? This year, Nintendo Classic is back in production. Instead of having to blow the dust off the classic Nintendo games in your basement, the new Nintendo Classic comes standard with 30 games in its internal memory, including Pac-Man, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., and more. Nintendo Classic is the perfect affordable console for anyone looking for some throwback fun – from the hardcore gamer to the nostalgic non-gamer. There’s even “CRT” mode, which creates a blurry line effect to mimic the scan-line effect from your old TV. Classic.

Pro Tip: The Nintendo Classic only comes with one controller with an incredibly short cable. Consider upgrading to a longer cable and/or using a controller from your Wii, which also works with the device.

Entertainment/Gaming Combined: Microsoft Xbox One S
The Xbox One S can be described as part gaming console, part entertainment center. With built-in access to TV apps, the Xbox One S is an excellent choice for those who want access to content in 4K and HDR video as well as someone who wants to game. Its Xbox Live feature allows you to download games directly from the Web or upload your physical game copies to the cloud, so you won’t have to worry about keeping your game copies always on hand. One cool feature is the Xbox One S’s compatibility with the HoloLens – Microsoft’s holographic computer headset. The Xbox One S has some exclusive first-person games like Gears of War and Halo, and its own racing game, Forza. There’s a growing list of Xbox 360 games, which you can download directly from the web to play online with friends or other gamers in the network. The Xbox comes in a variety of types and prices based on generation: the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and the soon-to-be-released next generation of the Xbox, currently called “Project Scorpio.” Project Scorpio claims to be the “most powerful console ever,” with 6 teraflops of power to truly achieve 4K gaming.

Pro Tip: The Xbox One S 4K, Ultra HD and Blu-Ray settings only work with newer TVs, so make sure your TV is capable of handling these features before investing in the console.

All-In-One: PlayStation 4 Pro
Like the Xbox, the PlayStation 4 Pro tends to be the focal point of any entertainment setup. Connecting the console to your TV turns it into a fully connected smart TV, complete with apps like YouTube, Netflix and Hulu*, as well as access to live games. The PS4 Pro is considered the top of the line in terms of graphics, with enhanced game play and faster frame rates for zero lag. The console is 4K and HDR compatible, so you can watch content in 4K HDR and play games of the same quality, as they are released. PlayStation hopes to continually up your gaming experience, as seen by the recent release of the PlayStation VR headset, which allows you to really immerse yourself in the game. The exclusive games available on the PS4 include some of the most popular role-playing games, such as Call of Duty, Uncharted and Until Dawn, as well as exclusive games, like Street Fighter. The differences between the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 4 Pro are minimal and mainly graphics based. For those who have a PlayStation 4, you probably don’t need to upgrade, whereas if you’re looking to purchase a brand-new console, the PS4 Pro could be the one for you.

*Netflix and Hulu memberships required

Pro Tip: Sony now allows gaming mods. This allows you to download expansion packs and specific tweaks that can change the way you experience a game or extend the life of a particular game.

Active Gaming: Nintendo Wii-U
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t consider yourself a gamer but enjoys gaming every once in awhile, the Wii could be the console for you. The Wii uses motion-control technology to sense your movements and control characters on-screen. The most recent iteration of the Wii, the Wii-U, comes with GamePad, a handheld controller that taps into NFC to communicate with your TV. The GamePad can be used as a handheld gaming device to control what’s happening on TV, or to simultaneously allow you to watch TV while you game on the handheld device. The Wii is ideal for bringing the whole family together with fun, active and interactive games. From classics like Mario Kart and Zelda to newer games like Pikmin 3, the Wii has games that get you up and moving during a family night or hanging out with friends.

Pro Tip: The Wii has long competed with the PlayStation and Xbox for title of top console, attracting a different type of gamer than its competitors. Nintendo’s most recent iteration of the Wii, the Wii-U, is slated to go out of production in the near future to make room for the next generation, which will likely use the same motion-sensing technology to get you up and moving. The upside is that you can still purchase the Wii and Wii-U at most major game retailers at discounted prices before the new model is released.

Gaming On-the-Go: Nintendo 3DS
If you’re more into handheld gaming, the Nintendo 3DS is an excellent choice. Unlike the original Game Boy, the 3DS has dual touchscreens and is capable of stereoscopic 3D without the glasses. The 3DS comes preloaded with games and is fully WiFi capable, so you can surf the Web or watch Netflix when you’re not gaming.

Pro Tip: Riding the popularity of Pokémon Go, Nintendo 3DS is the only handheld with the highly coveted Pokémon Sun and Moon game.

One last thing to consider when choosing between these gaming consoles is what your friends already have. Online gaming is not cross-platform, so if all your friends are using a particular console already, you may want to follow suit so you can play together online. Happy gaming!



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Sarah Kimmel

Written By

Sarah Kimmel

Sarah is a mom who fixes technology (as her daughter puts it, “you can fix ANYTHING electronic!”). She has been in the IT industry supporting small businesses for over 10 years, and now offers free tech help and tips on her blog, FamilyTechZone.com, where she helps families navigate the awesome and sometimes scary world of technology.

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