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Console Gaming

There are plenty of great PC games, but for most folks, the easiest way to play videogames is with a gaming console: hook it up to your TV, load a game disc, grab the controller, and you’re good to go.

But which gaming console? Right now there are three main competitors to choose from: Sony’s PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox, and Nintendo’s Wii. Let’s take a quick look at each...

Sony PlayStation 4 The PS’s graphics are stunning -- and this is the only videogame console that plays the winning format in the next-generation DVD war. Get a PlayStation, and you won’t have to spend hundreds more to play high-def Blu-Ray movies. Plus, while the PS’s online gaming isn’t as hot as the hardware, it’s thankfully free. Popular PlayStation games: Assassin’s Creed, Grand Theft Auto, Resident Evil, Madden NFL.

Microsoft Xbox One Powerful video hardware for high-def games (connects to your high-def TV via HDMI, the highest-quality interface available). Plenty of games available -- especially violent games like Halo, but there are also lots of not-so-bloody options, too. Outstanding online gaming (but most of it requires an Xbox Live Gold paid subscription, which lists for $54.99/year). Popular Xbox games: Halo 4, Call of Duty 4, Forza 5, Guitar Hero.

Nintendo Wii. Nintendo surrendered to Sony and Microsoft in the “cutting-edge graphics” department: the Wii’s video capabilities don’t compare to its competitors. But Nintendo’s invented a machine that anyone can play: one that’s more physical than any other console. To play the Wii’s baseball or tennis games, you don’t just press buttons: you swing, throw, move. And that’s attracted loads of folks who never played video games before (including millions of moms, and not a few grandmoms). Popular Wii games: Super Mario Galaxy, Wii Fit (calisthenics), Wii Play (9 mini games, from table tennis to fishing, bundled with remote).

If you’re on a budget, and don’t need to be on the cutting edge, Sony still sells the enormously successful PlayStation 3. As we write this, it’s roughly $199, and loads of used games are available dirt cheap. Speaking of cheap, eBay’s packed with very low-cost last-generation PSs, Xboxes, and Nintendo GameCubes – many available for well under $100.

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