Everything You Need to Know About Buying Next-Gen Consoles

Skye Hudson 02-12-2013

Both of the major contenders in the Console War are finally here, Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4, but there is a lot to know about each of these consoles before making a purchase.


Sure, the Wii U, which we reviewed and quite liked Nintendo Wii U Review and Giveaway Despite the increasing shift to mobile gaming, consoles are still very popular devices for playing immersive, graphics-intensive games; and that won’t change anytime soon as long as the major console makers continue to improve with... Read More , has been out for a year, and there are some arguments to be made for why gamers should give it a try Lost Faith In Wii U? These Recently Released And Upcoming Games Will Change Your Mind If you've been eyeballing that Wii U, but just have not found that it's worth spending the money on, now might be the perfect time to head to your local game store and put one... Read More , but it really can’t stand up to the might of these two next-gen consoles.

Now try to keep an open mind here; just because you loved your PS3 or Xbox 360 doesn’t mean that the next-generation version of it might be best for you. Each console has its own small advantages and disadvantages that could sway you either way.

Price and Availability

The Xbox One is available now in 13 markets: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, the UK, and the US. Depending on the currency, it sells for 499 USD, 429 GBP, 599 AUD, or 499 euros. Across the board, this makes the Xbox One the more expensive of the two consoles; Microsoft justifies this by including the Kinect sensor which will be discussed later.


However, if you’re in Asia, the Xbox One won’t be available for another year, with Microsoft planning to launch the console in late 2014. Considering the growth of the gaming market in Asia, this is an unfortunate move by the Redmond-based company. Other markets will be waiting until an unspecified time in 2014.


The PS4, on the other hand, launched on the 15th North America, and on November 29th in Europe, Latin America, and Australia, and it will be coming to Japan in February. It is 399USD, 350GBP, 549AUD, or 399 euros depending on your market, undercutting the Xbox One significantly, but not including the PlayStation Camera with Kinect-like features; that sells for $60 separately.

Raw Specs

On paper, the PS4 beats out the Xbox One here. Both of them have ditched their older processor architectures for more PC-like x86 eight-core AMD processors. The only difference in CPU is that the Xbox One is clocked slightly higher, at 1.75GHz instead of 1.6GHz like the PS4.


As for the GPU, the Xbox One’s is most like the Radeon HD 7790, while the PS4’s is most like the HD 7870, making it about 50% faster. Whether this will translate to noticeable real-world differences in Xbox and PS4 games is debatable, but the PS4 should technically have more graphics power.


Both have 8GB of RAM, but the difference here is that the Xbox One sports 2133Mhz DDR3 RAM, whereas the PS4 sports newer and faster 5500MHz DDR5 RAM. Again, it’s hard to say how much of an advantage this gives Sony’s console, but it is the better choice on specs alone.

Online Gameplay

The PS3 had free online multiplayer, a big advantage over the Xbox 360’s comparatively expensive $59 per year Xbox Live Gold subscription fee. But in this new generation of consoles, you need to pay to get the most out of your device.


To play online multiplayer on the PS4, you’ll need to purchase Sony’s PlayStation Plus subscription service for$49 per year, still a bit cheaper than Microsoft’s offering. However, the Xbox One is nearly useless without Xbox Live. Some of the notable features that require Live are the Game DVR and OneGuide, both of which will be discussed shortly, Skype, and Netflix.


Could you use a PS4 or Xbox One without a subscription? Sure, but the experience will be greatly subpar, especially on the Xbox.

Disc or Digital

Hello next-gen consoles, goodbye last-gen discs. The PS4 and Xbox One are ushering in the era of digital downloads. With these new consoles, the digital versions of games are available the same day as the disc versions, meaning that you might never have to go to a brick-and-mortar store for your video games again.

However, downloading games digitally has its setbacks. Once you’re done with the game, you can’t sell or lend your digital copy; it’s yours and yours alone. Buying the disc version, though, means that the disc will have to be in your console while you play.

I know some of you may scoff at the idea that some people may be too lazy to simply change discs, but I think there is a big appeal in being able to have all your games tied to your account rather than a physical disc. Plus, if visiting a friend’s house, any of your games can be downloaded to their consoles for you two to play together.


Launch Titles

The Xbox One launched with 22 titles available, whereas the PS4 launched with 23. However, many of these are cross-platform games like Just Dance 4 or Call Of Duty: Ghosts.


The Xbox has some great exclusive games 5 Xbox One Exclusive Titles To Make PS4 Owners Jealous Read More , and the PS4 does too 5 PS4 Exclusive Titles To Make Xbox One Owners Jealous Having already proposed five reasons you should be buying a PlayStation 4, it's time to focus in on the games that will be released for the system within its first year on sale. What follows... Read More . As of right now, the Xbox has notable titles like Forza Motorsport 5, Dead Rising 3, Ryse: Son of Rome, and Killer Instinct. The PS4, meanwhile, has Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack, Resogun, and DC Universe Online.

Hard Drive

While both devices come with 500GB HDDs, the PS4s is user-replaceable with any compatible laptop HDD or SSD, but the Xbox’s hard drive isn’t. How will you upgrade the Xbox One’s 500GB HDD then when you reach full capacity? Well, Microsoft hasn’t answered that question for us yet.

This is a strange decision for the Xbox, since modern games can take up anywhere from 10GB to 40GB of space, and whether you go disc or digital, the game has to be downloaded to the hard drive.

If you plan on having so many games that 500GB won’t be enough, the PS4 should be more attractive. Although hopefully Microsoft will release some form of external storage for the Xbox One soon.

Media Sharing

Both consoles have a Game DVR feature that will keep an ongoing recording of your recent action. For the Xbox, it will be your last five minutes of gameplay, and you can automatically save the last 30 seconds by saying, “Xbox, record that” at any time if your Kinect is on. As for the PS4, it will keep the last 15 minutes saved and you can use the “Share” button on the controller to save the portion you want.


As of right now, the PS4 only supports uploading these videos to Facebook, and the Xbox only supports sharing them directly with SkyDrive. Although once your video is in SkyDrive, you can easily share it to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or any other service from your computer. In the future, both consoles should support improved upload to YouTube and other places as well. Right now, only the PS4 supports streaming to Twitch.

Physical Size

The Xbox One is huge. As you can see in the photo below, courtesy of TechCrunch, the Xbox One dwarfs the PS4 in physical size, and on top of that, it has a massive external power brick, but the PS4 has its power supply inside.


Given the similar internals, it’s strange that the Xbox is so much bigger, but it’s possible, given the massive vents on the Xbox, that Microsoft is trying incredibly hard not to recreate the overheating Red Ring of Death issues that plagued the 360.

Also, the Xbox One can only sit horizontally, not vertically, and the PS4 is the same unless you purchase the optional stand that allows it to be propped up vertically.

Second Screen

Both consoles have apps for iOS and Android (and the Xbox supports Windows Phone and Windows 8 devices) that allow you to control your console from your mobile device. The only differentiator here is that the PS4 supports remote play on the PS Vita, a device we have reviewed as the best mobile gaming device PlayStation Vita 3G/Wi-Fi Review And Giveaway Today, we'll be taking a look at the PlayStation Vita (specifically the 3G/Wi-Fi model), Sony’s latest entry into the portable gaming space. How will it hold up? Read the review to find out. Plus, we'll... Read More , meaning that if you have a PS Vita, you can play your PS4 games on your Vita while at home. That’s a wonderful feature that is unmatched by Microsoft.

Download PlayStation App: iOSAndroid

Download Xbox SmartGlass: iOSAndroidWindows PhoneWindows 8

Backwards Compatibility

Neither console allows for backwards compatibility, so either way, you’re starting over fresh. Although both Sony and Microsoft have said that some older titles will be made available for download in the future.

Motion Sensor And Voice Controls

The Xbox One Kinect is amazingly improved from the old offering; it has a 1080p HD wide-angle lens that is much more accurate than the previous one. You can nearly control the entire Xbox with your voice, and Microsoft has released a list of all the voice commands available for the Kinect. Plus, every Xbox One comes with one, so developers have an incentive to make use of it.


The PlayStation Camera, on the other hand, is $60 extra and isn’t up to the same level as the Kinect. It has voice commands and gesture controls, but it isn’t as accurate and is a lower resolution at 1280 x 800. And Skype? Forget about it. Microsoft owns it, and that service won’t be coming to the PS4 any time soon.


Both devices support facial recognition and can sign you in by matching your face and position with your account, which is an amazingly futuristic feature.


Whichever controller you prefer is really subjective. The Xbox One controller and PS4 DualShock 4 are both great controllers, but many prefer the joystick placement and vibrating triggers in the Xbox controllers, while others treasure the small touchpad area in the center of the DualShock 4.


The PS4’s controller supports charging via micro-USB. The Xbox One, on the other hand, still takes AA batteries. The PS4 also has a standard headphone jack for using any headset, but the Xbox One controller has a proprietary plug that will only work with their headsets.

Watching TV

The Xbox One is meant to be an entertainment center, not just a gaming device. Your cable box can be routed through the console via HDMI, and then you can control your TV through your Xbox. If you have a universal remote, the Kinect has an IR receiver, unlike the PlayStation Camera.

If you want to watch TV through your console, the Xbox One has no competition.


As an early adopter, you’re going to experience some issues with these devices. Many users have complained about their PS4 or Xbox One crashing or not booting up at all, and the PlayStation Network was down for a bit immediately after launch. Be patient. These are fantastic devices, and the kinks will be worked out soon.

If you’re still undecided, we have 5 reasons why you should get an Xbox One PS4 vs Xbox One: 5 Reasons To Buy The Xbox One This year's E3 felt almost like it was over before it began. Though the conference lasts for days, both Microsoft and Sony made their announcements before the doors opened, showing not just hardware but also... Read More , and 5 reasons why you should get a PS4 PS4 vs Xbox One: 5 Reasons To Buy The PS4 E3 2013 marked the moment when the next-generation truly began, with all three contenders -- the PlayStation 4 (PS4), Xbox One, and Wii U -- revealed in full. The Wii U is already on the... Read More .

Which console will you be getting? Or none at all? Let us know in the comments.

Related topics: PlayStation, Xbox One.

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  1. Anthony B
    December 3, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Never had an xbox and this review hasn't really convinced me to switch. Esp as I now have 2yrs PS Plus @ $30 thanks to Black Friday Sales. So PS4 for me

  2. PCForMe
    December 3, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Everything You Need to Know About Buying "Next-Gen" Consoles: Don't.

  3. Sharukh M
    December 3, 2013 at 4:51 am

    All hail the PC. ?

    • neuron
      December 3, 2013 at 11:50 am

      All hail the PC!

    • Matt S
      December 3, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      Does a Steambox count as a next-generation console? If so, watch out in 2014!

    • Sharukh M
      December 4, 2013 at 3:54 am

      My bad. It was '!' instead of '?'

  4. Drew B
    December 3, 2013 at 3:13 am

    Great write up!!! Just when I was about to choose the Playstation because of the HDD upgrade options and hardware the XBox Kinect wins me over again. I think i'm going to just hold off for a few months before making a choice.

  5. Palu
    December 2, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    "Plus, if visiting a friend’s house, any of your games can be downloaded to their consoles for you two to play together"

    Yeah right, 50gb games are downloaded within 5min, as everyone knows