Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 consoles offer high-definition video performance and surround-sound audio. Although the two brands have their share of rabid fans, consumers typically make their purchasing choice based on capabilities and features. If you must choose one over the other, closely examining the core elements of each console will help you make a determination you will be happy with over the long term.
For fans of next-generation movie formats, the PlayStation 3 is a solid choice due to the presence of a built-in Blu-ray drive. The Xbox 360 incorporates a conventional DVD drive, offering at one point an external drive featuring the failed HD-DVD format. Although larger games primarily benefit from Blu-ray's capacity in terms of using fewer discs, some Blu-ray movie and game titles offer uncompressed audio and 1080p HD video.
A key feature difference between the two consoles is hard-drive storage capacity. The upper range of stock PS3 hard drives is 320 gigabytes, with the Xbox 360 topping out at 250GB. The drive used in the PS3 is easily swapped for a higher-capacity unit, but the only method of increasing hard drive space on an Xbox 360 is to purchase another console at comparatively higher cost. Bigger hard drives enable increased storage of games saves, multimedia and smaller games.
Memory and Computing
The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 both offer customized chip sets and memory. Although the PS3's central-processing unit -- CPU -- performance measures higher in terms of gigaflops per second, the 360's graphics processing unit -- GPU -- measures equal or better. Both offer high levels of graphics and video performance. Differences in gaming performance are largely based on whether game programmers take the time to maximize the potential of the console.
As consoles become multimedia hubs rather than just gaming systems, the need to add USB peripherals such as flash drives increases. The Xbox 360 is equipped with three USB ports, with the PlayStation 3 offering five. Additionally, the PS3 offers support for Bluetooth 2.0, used natively with the Sony Dual Shock game controllers and headsets.
When moving to a new console, many choose to pull out the old one for sale or trade-in. Being able to play your existing library of older games on the newer console is therefore potentially very important. The current Xbox 360 console offers limited support for older original Xbox titles. However, the current version of the PS3 does not play older PlayStation and PS2 games.
Microsoft's Xbox Live and Sony's PlayStation Network offer players the opportunity to pit their skills against large numbers of online opponents. A key feature of the Xbox 360's iteration of online gaming is party chat, where a group can join up in one game and stay together throughout the evening. Both online services also offer content streaming from Netflix, Hulu Plus and others. The key difference is cost, which is typically higher per year with the Xbox 360 than the PlayStation 3.
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