While both systems aim to provide a next-generation gaming experience, they go about it in very different ways. This is apparent from the first moment they are removed from their respective boxes.
The Look – The Console Shell Itself
When launched, both consoles were approximately the same size, but with the introduction of the Ps3 Slim version, it sits quite a bit lower to the ground and bears more than a passing resemblance to its prior-generator sibling, the Ps2.
There are a few curved lines on the front and sides, and the addition of a mirrored panel near the power button gives the Ps3 a sleek look. The power button is located on the right-hand edge of the unit, along the mirrored strip, with only a small red led light to announce its presence.
The Xbox 360 goes for more of a classic “rectangle” look and was initially available only in white. The front of the unit is dominated by a large power button with a green ring around it. Due to production and heat problems, many Xbox 360’s have suffered power or fatal failures, resulting in the typically green lights of this ring going red. In gaming slang, this has become known as the “Red Ring of Death” and is used to indicate that the unit has failed.
Hands On – The Controllers
Both the Xbox 360 and feature wireless controllers, though the method of charging them differs. The Xbox controllers initially come with two “AA” batteries that will last nine or ten hours but then need to be replaced. A charger can be purchased which will substitute a rechargeable battery pack for the batteries.
The Ps3 controller is also wireless, but charges when it is plugged via a USB cable (included) into the Ps3 itself. The advantage of this system is that there is no necessity to purchase a separate charging unit.
Getting Connected – Outputs and Inputs
Each unit offers component video cable support, HDMI support, and a digital audio out jack on the back. Both come standard with AC power cords, but in both cases, an HDMI or digital optical cable must be purchased separately.
The units also both have an Ethernet cable connection at the rear, but the Ps3 also supports wireless internet access, which eliminates the need for a cable altogether. While receiving the signal will necessitate having access to a wireless network and wireless works have the potential to be less stable than their wired counterparts, the option for a wireless connection is very convenient.
Sights and Sounds – Turning Them on
The Ps3 and Xbox both take less than thirty seconds to get up and running, but the background noise while running them is significantly different. The Ps3 starts up with a small ‘beep’ and will occasionally where or click as a CD or Blu-Ray is loaded.
The Xbox, meanwhile, sounds like a small jet is starting up when it is turned on. It will periodically stop making this noise, but not for long. It is common knowledge in the gaming industry that Xbox consoles are large sources of heat, and overheating is the most common cause of the “Red Ring of Death“.
Both consoles use CD/DVD’s for their actual games, in addition to downloadable content which can be stored on a hard drive or memory card. The divergence here happens when playing movies. The Xbox is capable of playing DVDs, but the Ps3 functions as a Blu-Ray player. While upon release the Ps3 was twice the cost of the Xbox, both systems have now settled into a $299 price range.
The technology on both units is similar and functions equally well on each. A definitive statement cannot be made as to which unit is the better value, but with its Blu-Ray capabilities and stronger track record for functionality, the Ps3 does have several hardware advantages over the Xbox 360.