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PlayStation 4 vs Xbox One: Gaming or multimedia?

The age-old debate on which gaming console is better has plagued gamers since the Super Nintendo and Genesis days.

While modern next-gen consoles have considerably ramped up in power and functionality, the query remains the same, and we look into answering it by comparing Sony’s (NYSE: SNE) PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Xbox One.

PS4

The PlayStation 4: Gaming first, functionality second

Sony’s PlayStation 4 console has proven to be the more popular choice in the next-gen arena. So far the Japanese console maker has shipped 10 million units worldwide, and that number is going strong among the community.

The secret to PS4’s success it that it focuses almost exclusively on gaming.

Thanks to its powerful hardware, the PS4 can deliver high-fidelity gaming with native 1080p resolution at 60 frames-per-second for optimum performance. The Xbox One however can only hit 900p native resolution, and needs an upscaler to hit full 1080p HD.

The trick of the PlayStation 4’s power lies in its unified memory, which allows both the customized Jaguar CPU and GCN GPU to tap into the console’s shared pool of 8GB of GDDR5 RAM at any given time.

Xbox One PS4 GPU

GPGPU offloading also allows the system to intelligently outsource workloads from the CPU straight to the GPU, basically affording for more dynamic system performance. With this efficient setup the PS4’s hardware works in tandem to provide pristine high-quality visuals with fluid, fast-paced gameplay.

That being said, Sony’s next-gen console certainly isn’t a top choice for multimedia. As it stands now the system is becoming more and more aligned with multi-functionality, but all-in-all it’s made for gaming.

The PS4 does have a slew of media streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, but when it comes to DVD or Blu-ray playback the system is pretty basic.

It lacks the PS3’s DLNA network streaming, meaning you can’t share videos, pictures or music across multiple devices onto the PS4. In comparison the two systems are pretty starkly different–some differences are welcome, others like the absence of DLNA aren’t so much.

PS4 Remote Play

Remote Play is a great exclusive feature of the PS4 that allows you to take your PS4 game session on-the-go on your PS Vita. Many hit AAA games like Destiny, Call of Duty: Ghosts and The Last of Us: Remastered are Remote Play compatible.

Share Play was one of the various new features added to the console in System Firmware Update 2.00, and it’s proven to be an innovative new method to the social gaming experience.

With Share Play you can essentially hand control of your game off to a friend across the internet, allowing them to play your game–even if they don’t own it. This has proven to be a major addition to the PS4’s game-centric armament that takes a big shot at Microsoft.

Xbox One

 

The Xbox One: All-In-One Entertainment

The Xbox One isn’t as svelte or powerful as the PlayStation 4, but it does have some pretty significant advantages over Sony’s system.

Mainly the console focuses on functionality and entertainment as a whole. It can serve as a nexus for a number of activities, from gaming to television, movies, streaming and more.

Microsoft wanted to make an all-in-one household entertainment solution and really the Xbox One fits the bill nicely. The console’s strengths are spread across both gaming and media, making it a sort of jack-of-all-trades.

XboxOneSnapSkype

But it still does some nifty and unique things.

For instance, Xbox One owners can control their television broadcasts using the device, as well as use it as a functioning DVR. The Kinect makes hands-free navigation a breeze, but it’s more of a convenient commodity than a necessity.

Snap Mode is a major feature that allows users to switch between different apps on the same screen. Basically it emulates a PC”s multitasking, letting owners watch TV or play a game while Skyping a friend across the net, making it one of the most innovative functions of the console.

Xbox One Media Player

As for media, the Xbox One reigns supreme.

The new Media Player app brings support for a slew of file types including .mkv, .jpeg, .mp3, .avi and more. This allows users to view content on USB sticks on the Xbox One–a feature that’s painfully absent on Sony’s PS4 (besides music support in v2.00). DLNA streaming is also being implemented for the One, giving it another boost over the PS4’s lackluster media functions.

Sunset Overdrive 2

Gaming, on the other hand, isn’t the Xbox One’s key strength. While it does have a number of big-name games like Titanfall and Sunset Overdrive, and exclusivity for EA Access, the system lacks the PS4’s unified memory boosts and instead sports VRAM. While gaming is adequate in terms of graphics and content, the PS4 outshines the Xbox One with its expansive library of games.

To fight the PS4, Microsoft has lowered the price tag of all Xbox One consoles by $50 in the United States. This mark down applies to bundles like the Assassin’s Creed: Unity or Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Xbox One bundles, so now is the perfect time to pick one up.

By continuing to add new features and offer new incentives to gamers, Microsoft is committed to the Xbox One’s growth. They won’t be able to defeat Sony in the gaming front, but by providing features that the PS4 doesn’t have, they might not have to.

PlayStation 4 vs Xbox One: Which is better for you?

If you want a console for gaming, pick Sony’s PlayStation 4. If you’re the type of consumer who prefers functionality over just gaming, then go with the Xbox One. Both systems have their strengths and weaknesses, and Sony and Microsoft are determined to continue the next-gen war with a host of new features, so we can only guess what the future might bring.