Well it’s that time of the year again and to help cut down on your holiday stress we’ve created a little guide to shopping for the latest and greatest gear for gamers and geeks. Enjoy.

Buying A Console

Consoles

Sony Playstation 3 – Nintendo Wii – Xbox 360

Figuring out which console is right for you or the person you’re buying it for might be one of the most important decisions you make this holiday season. A gaming console is something that sticks around for a while, providing joy for years, so it’s worth taking the time to find out which one is best suited for your needs.

When picking a system it’s important to consider a few different things, are you buying it primarily for games or for movies? Are you buying it for children, teenagers, or an adult? Are there specific games you’re interested in getting?

Nintendo Wii

marioNintendo more than any other company has made gaming a truly social experience, taking it out of the hands of the elite and bringing to your living room to be shared with the whole family. The Wii is an amazing introductory system, so if you’re trying to get someone you love into video games, this might be your best bet. Nintendo’s newest console is also incredibly child friendly with far fewer violent games than either of the other two consoles, if you’re shopping for young children then the Wii should be the first console you look at. A friend of mine recently bought a Wii for his grandparents and they’re loving it.

The Wii costs $199.99 and includes the following items: the game console itself, a sensor bar and stand, one Wii remote, one nunchuk controller, standard composite cables, and a copy Wii Sports.

Overall: The Wii is a fantastic console for families and first time gamers, but if you’re shopping for someone who likes first person shooters or more mature games then the Wii is definitely the wrong choice.

Xbox 360

The Xbox 360 is probably the most versatile of the three systems, offering games, downloadable movies, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Last fm, and downloadable games on demand. When it comes down to games alone the 360 boasts a far more robust list of titles than either of its competitors. From games like UNO to be played with the whole family to games like Call of Duty and Fable, the Xbox 360 is unmatched in terms of variety and options. One of the downsides of the 360 is that it doesn’t play Blu-Ray movies, for that you’ll either need a Blu-Ray player or a PS3

If you’re considering the Xbox 360 as a console for your children and are worried about them playing games like Dead Rising or Grand Theft Auto IV, you should know that the 360 has a very easy to use parental control system. This system allows you to determine what games your children can play based on the ESRB rating of the game , if you disable Mature games then any game with an M rating will not work on your Xbox unless you change the setting.

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A major negative would be their failure rate as the 360s and their Red Rings of Death caused enough of a stir that Microsoft had to institute a warranty extension and fix RROD for free. While the RROD problem has now been solved for the most part, there’s always a chance you might still get them and have to send your 360 into Microsoft for repair.

The Xbox 360 Arcade is priced at $199.99, and comes with one wired controller, component cables, and a 512MB memory card.

The Xbox 360 Elite is priced at $299.99, and comes with a wireless controller, component cables, a headset, and a 120 GB hard drive.

My advice, spend the extra $100 and pick up the 360 Elite, the hard drive will end up being well worth it in the long run if you consider the amount of movies, games, tv shows, and various other things that you can download.

Overall: An amazing system that offers a wider range of options and customization. Great for people of all ages, and while it’s a little bit more complicated than the Wii you’ll get the hang of it within the day. I’d recommend this as a gift to anyone looking to surprise a loved one.

Sony Playstation 3

Sony’s PS3 is a remarkable system with a wide variety of features not found anywhere else. Right off the bat I’m going to go into a few key points. While the PS3 doesn’t have quite as large a list of titles as the Xbox 360 it does offer a number of exclusive titles that you wont find on any other system (God of War, Uncharted, Killzone, Grand Turismo,  and Little Big Planet just to name a few.) The PS3’s built in Blu-Ray player is the best deal you’re ever likely to find, so if you’re big into HD then this might be the system for you.

Another_Little_Big_Planet_Icon_by_mjohare03The Playstation 3 finally picking up decent sales numbers due to their aggressive new marketing campaign, which means we might see an increase in the number of titles released for the system within the next year or two. And since Metal Gear is coming to the Xbox 360 it might not be too long before we see 360 exclusives jumping platforms to share the love.

Just like the 360, the PS3’s online store offers endless gigs of downloadable joy. Oh hey, did I mention the fact that the PS3 also has a built in web browser? Need to figure out how to get that hidden item, why go to your computer when you can find out from the comfort of your couch.

The 120GB PS3 Slim is priced at $299 and its younger 250GB brother is $349.  Both consoles come with a Dual Shock 3 controller and composite AV cables, the only difference other than price is the amount of storage space on the hard drive.

Overall: A great system for everyone, from hardcore Playstation fans staying loyal to the franchise to people and families who are really into HD and want to make the most out of the experience.  With all of the options available, you’ll have hours upon hours of enjoyment and fun.

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At the end of the day you really need to figure out which console is right for you. If you don’t know which console to buy for someone then asking them really might be the best thing, a surprise video game system is nice, but getting the one you really want? That’s even better.

If you’re going to invest in a console then don’t listen to the hype, sit down, do some research and enjoy the coming years with your console rather than regretting that you got the wrong one.

Hope this helped.

– Dr Strange Lulz

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