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The Short Version
There's not much difference when you compare Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles in the grand scheme of things. You really can't go wrong with either console since many popular titles are available on both systems. So, it can sometimes just be the matter of how much money is in your pocket and which games you prefer. But, with the prices of the PS3 dropping, now you have another factor to determine... which one really fits your gaming style. There are several factors to look at when you're in the middle of the decision:
The first piece of advice is to take a look at the exclusive games for a system, see which games on the list make you drool, and pick that one. Both systems have HDMI ports for your HD TV so a quality picture isn't a worry on either console.
The best models for most people are the Xbox 360 (aka Pro or Premium) and the PS3 40GB. Once you add in the cost of a year of the Xbox 360 online service (you want the Gold pay version and not the free Silver), the prices come out the same no matter which way you go.
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Which Xbox 360?
1. Don't buy a used Xbox 360; you're asking for trouble.
2. Don't buy the bottom-of-the-line Xbox 360 (the Arcade model); it has no hard drive for downloaded games, etc.
That leaves the no-suffix 20GB Xbox 360 (also known as the Pro or Premium) and the 120GB Elite, which will cost you a bit more. If you plan on making your Xbox 360 the center of your media universe and filling it with tons of movies, music, etc. etc., then sure, drop the extra bucks. For most people, the Pro is the better choice. Add another $50 or so for a year of Xbox Live Gold.
The Xbox 360 also has several limited edition game consoles available. These special editions include the R2-D2 and C-3PO designed console, The Gears of War 3 console and the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Console. Each one of these editions contains a 320GB hard drive, customized consoles and customized wireless controllers, in addition to a version of the game the console represents. If you’re looking for a fresh, crisp game console, and are a dire hard fan of either one of those game series than these are the consoles for you!
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Right now, Sony is offering some great deals on the PS3 models that do just about everything. You can play even the old school Playstation original games, play movies of all types (even BluRay) and much more. But, with this new model out that does everything, and the price or it dropping swiftly, make sure that you follow these tips:
1. Don't buy an older PS3 model that won't allow you to do everything the newer ones do. You'll spend just as much money and not be happy.
2. Don't buy a used or refurbished PS3 either - you never know what you're getting here.
Go for the gold and just buy the brand new one. Again, price is the determining factor.
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The Deciding Factors
The in-game differences between the two gaming systems are relatively small. So the choice mostly comes down to other factors. Here are the big ones:
- Which exclusive games make you salivate the most?
- Are you going to play multiplayer games online? If so, will it be with strangers or friends? If it's friends, which systems do they have? If strangers, Xbox Live has around 12 million subscribers, and the PlayStation Network around 3 million.
- The PS3 plays Blu-ray DVDs. Blu-ray DVD players still cost a ton. So hey, free Blu-ray player.
- The 360's been out longer, so it has a larger back catalog.
- If you get $400 version of the PS3, you don't get to play previous-generation games. The $350 Xbox 360 (+ $50 for Xbox Live Gold, remember) can play over 400 games for the original Xbox. Sure, they don't look as good as current games, but you can find them cheap cheap cheap. Even the bestselling original Xbox games are available under $10 (or $5!) used.
Mainly, the money factor is the big thing. When you determine what you want to spend, and how much you think you'll spend on games over the next year, you can really take a better look at the Xbostats and see where your money is better spent.
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Some Journeys You Must Take Alone
If you read this far, wow, bet you're unsatisfied! There's just no clear winner that massively crushes the other. It basically comes down to what features and specific games are important to you, and I really can't help you with that. Other than coin-flipping, your best bet is to probably make some notes on which PS3- or Xbox 360-exclusive games sound good, and hit YouTube or GameTrailers.com to check out the trailers for 'em.
Tally up each side, and there's your decision. Unless you really want Blu-ray. Or BioShock. Or all your friends have the other system. Or -- well, good luck to you. Let us know your thoughts or what you picked by leaving a comment below!