As a diehard fan of Microsoft's Xbox 360, I fully expected to find plenty of issues with Sony's oft-delayed PlayStation 3 (PS3). The price is an obvious sticking point: A fully-loaded 60 GB version of the console retails for a horrific $600, a full $200 more than the premium Xbox 360 version. Availability, as I write this, is still an issue: The console has yet to ship in Europe and other major markets, and in the US, finding a PS3 is like winning the lottery: You have to be really lucky, and in the right place at the right time, though there are indications that this situation is finally improving. And then there are the technical issues: Shipping as it did a full year after the Xbox 360, the PS3 doesn't seem, at first glance, to offer much advantage over Microsoft's console.

Well, I have a PS3 now and, truth be told, Sony absolutely has a winner on its hands. Yes, availability and pricing issues need to be overcome, but I'm sure that time will ease all those pains. From a technical perspective--and perhaps more important, from a usability perspective--the PS3 is at least as good as the Xbox 360. Indeed, it is clearly superior in certain ways, a fact that should send a shiver down the spine of any gamer who was hoping that Microsoft might miraculously win this round. I'm here to tell you that it's not going to happen.

That doesn't mean that the PS3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii couldn't somehow end up in a three-way tie or something close to it. (I have my doubts about the long term appeal of the Wii, but we'll get to that in my eventual Wii review.) Indeed, if the Xbox 360 somehow manages to pick up some market share in this generation, it would be a major accomplishment. Meanwhile, it's increasingly obvious that the PS3 has the technical prowess to not only compete, but win this round. Whether that happens will be a matter for the historical record.

Speaking of which...

Historical matters

Sony entered the video game market in late 1994 with its original PlayStation (PS) after a planned Nintendo partnership fell apart. The PS was notable for a number of reasons. It was the first popular video game system to utilize games on optical disc, for example. (And no, I don't care about the Commodore CD-32, the 3DO, or whatever other also-rans appeared before this.) I never found the original PS to be particularly impressive from a technical perspective: I recall racing games in which you could watch the background being rendered as it appeared, and load times were simply horrible. My opinion notwithstanding, the PS established Sony as a major player in the video game space: It went on to become the best-selling console of its generation and outlasted technically superior competitors like the Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn.

In 2000, Sony followed up the successful PS with its even more impressive PlayStation 2 (PS2). Featuring a slickly futuristic design that could sit flat or stand upright, the PS2 would eventually go on to become one of the best-selling video game consoles of all time, with over 100 million units sold by the end of 2006. (Indeed, the PS2 was still the best-selling console of the 2006 holiday selling season, despite the appearance of next-generation Xbox 360, Wii, and PS3 competition.) Like its predecessor, the PS2 wasn't the most technically impressive console of its generation (that accolade belongs to Microsoft's original Xbox). But the PS2 was supported by the most exhaustive collection of game titles ever seen on a console, including a number of exclusive titles, driving gamers to the device. Over 8500 games have been developed for the PS2 and while many of those are obviously stinkers, that number is both impressive and record-setting. That the PS2 was also backwards compatible with original PS games is just an added bonus, especially for those who were looking to upgrade.

Over time, Sony sought to improve its PS2 with a variety of add-ons aimed at making the console more competitive with the original Xbox. Sony shipped a Network Adapter, adding broadband support (and later built the adapter into a slimmer second-generation PS2 model). An optional hard drive was eventually offered, though it was rarely utilized by game titles. A digital video recorder (DVR)-equipped version, called the PSX, was briefly sold only in Japan. And of course, there was the Multitap so up to eight gamers could compete together on a single console.

Clearly, a new console would be needed to seize the technical crown, and Sony began working on what became the PS3. Originally released in November 2006 in both Japan and North America (a European launch is scheduled for later this month), the PS3 was beset by technical delays during its development, most related to its high-end and expensive Blu-Ray optical drive. Originally announced in mid-2005, the PS3 has also been detuned several times compared to its original specifications. Sony boasted then that the console would feature two next-generation HDMI audio/video ports, but the shipping version has only one. Sony also said that the PS3 would feature three Ethernet networking ports, but the shipping version has but one such connection.

Technically, the PS3 is a beast. It features an innovative 3.2 GHz Cell microprocessor with multiple cores, each of which can be separately assigned via software. It can output in all of today's HD video resolutions, including the high-end 1080p (1920 x 1080, non-interlaced), though most games run at 720p (1280 x 720). And it features that controversial Blu-Ray optical drive, one of two formats competing to become the next-generation DVD standard. The other, HD-DVD, is supported by Microsoft, which has shipped an optional HD-DVD drive for its Xbox 360 console (see my photo gallery).

Sadly for Sony, the PS3 launch was a disaster. Sony entered the 2006 holiday season with far fewer consoles than it had promised (and this after revising its shipping estimates downward). Customers camped out overnight in order to secure one of the few consoles that shipped to North America in November 2006, but many went home disappointed as the tiny supply of consoles quickly sold out. (Today, months later, it's still almost impossible to find a PS3 in any retail store in North America.) Consoles like the Xbox 360 and Wii took advantage of the scarcity of PS3s, and many potential PS3 customers went home with other devices instead. Looking ahead at the rest of 2007, Sony faces an uphill battle, but the company expects hundreds of millions of loyal PlayStation customers to turn the tide. Based on my experience with the PS3, this attitude might not be misplaced. But the PS3 has been outsold by the Xbox 360, Wii, and yes, even the PS2, since its North American launch.

Console versions

After seeing Microsoft's success with two Xbox 360 models, Sony decided to sell two versions of its PS3 as well. The low-end version, which retails for $499 in the United States, features a 20 GB hard drive, a Blu-Ray optical drive, a single HDMI port (but no HDMI cable), Bluetooth wireless capabilities, an Ethernet port, and four USB 2.0 ports. The high-end PlayStation 3 model (a whopping $599 in the US)--or what we might think of as the "real PS3"--adds a 60 GB hard drive, built-in Wi-Fi, a variety of flash memory card readers, and chrome trim on the console's exterior. Alas, it also does not include an HDMI cable, which is an odd omission in a device this expensive. I'm using--and reviewing--the high end version and couldn't imagine settling for the lower-end version.

Compared to the Xbox 360, the PS3 is extremely expensive, but it offers a few advantages. The PS3 and its games can run at higher resolutions than Xbox 360 games (though they rarely do). The Blu-Ray optical disk format can store much more content (about 50 GB) than the Xbox 360's relatively ancient DVD drive (about 8.5 GB), and though an HD-DVD drive is available as an option extra for the Xbox 360, it comes with a $149 price tag and cannot be used by games. The high-end PS3 comes with a much larger hard drive than the high-end Xbox 360, crucial for game downloads and the coming generation of online movie and TV download services. The PS3 also features gigabit (1000 Mbps) networking, vs. just 100 Mbps for the Xbox 360.

All that said, the Xbox 360 is superior to the PS3 in various ways as well, and some of these advantages might ultimately matter more to gamers than the PS3's sometimes esoteric technical advantages. The Xbox 360 user interface is dramatically better than that of the PS3. Microsoft's Xbox Live online service is vastly superior to Sony's PlayStation Network (though, to be fair, the PSN is free, unlike Xbox Live Gold). And Xbox 360's year long head start means that Microsoft's console has a full selection of games--over 200 at this writing--already available, and developers are already taking advantage of their experiences and shipping second-generation games featuring better graphics and experiences. I'll examine these and other competitive issues throughout this review. (For further comparison of the PS3 and Xbox 360's technical features, please see my showcase, Xbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3 vs. Nintendo Wii: A Technical Comparison.)

From box to TV: Setup and installation

The 60 GB PlayStation 3 includes the console itself, a power cable (but no huge power brick, as with the Xbox 360), a networking cable, a single wireless Sixaxis controller, a USB cable for charging the controller, a low-end component (RCA style) A/V cable, and some light documentation. The console itself is quite a bit larger than the Xbox 360, but the lack of an external power brick is a plus, as is the relative quiet of the console. Compared to the Xbox 360, the PS3 is virtually silent: You get a soft and almost pleasant "chunking" sound when the Blu-Ray drive accesses a disk, but in normal operation, the console emits just a whisper-like hum. (The Xbox 360, meanwhile, is annoyingly loud, especially when playing a game, when it sounds like a jet plane.) Physically, the PS3 console is, if anything, too shiny: You'll see dust settle on it the second you take it out of the box, and fingerprints seem almost magically attracted to its surface, similar to the problem with many iPods.

Setup is quick and simple, especially once you figure out the nuances of entering text with the Sixaxis controller. The PS3 Cross Media Bar dashboard, which we'll discuss below, will be familiar to anyone that's used a PlayStation Portable (PSP), since it utilizes almost exactly the same design. I guess the notion here is that the PSP had proven itself in the market, but I prefer the Xbox 360's far friendlier, richer, and more usable blade-based dashboard. Regardless, after a few simple questions related to the date, time, and time zone, I was up and running. Later, I went back and configured wireless networking, and the PS3 had no issues connecting to my home network. I downloaded and installed a firmware update, connected to the PlayStation Network (again, see below) and set up a free PlayStation Network account, and was up and running quite quickly.

To PS2 users, the PS3's setup and connectivity options will seem somewhat revolutionary, but if you're familiar with the Microsoft world, you'll experience something about halfway between the setup experience and Xbox Live service that was offered on the original Xbox and today's Xbox 360. In other words, it's perfectly serviceable, but Microsoft's console offers a much better experience overall.

Cross Media Bar: The PlayStation 3 dashboard

When the PlayStation Portable (PSP) appeared in 2004, one of the many innovations in the device was its Cross Media Bar (XMB) dashboard, a main menu from which you access the device's various features. Sony is clearly quite taken with the XMB, as it appears on some Sony TVs and on the Japan-based PSX as well. And now it's available on the PS3. I'm not as sold on it. The XMB features the same weird horizontal navigation scheme that Microsoft uses with the Windows Vista version of Media Center, though in Sony's case each of the items you're viewing is a simple, monochromatic icon. The background of the XMB, which is annoyingly not configurable, changes colors from month to month, gradually. As I write this in mid-March 2007, it's an ugly brownish color.

The PS3's XMB is horizontally divided into 8 icons: Users, Settings, Photo, Music, Video, Game, Network, and Friends. As you move left and right through these choices, you'll see that each features its own vertical list of menu items. So for example, Settings features such items as System Update, BD/DVD Settings, Music Settings, Chat Settings, System Settings, Data and Time Settings, Accessory Settings, Display Settings, Sound Settings, Security Settings, and Network Settings (moving from top to bottom). Most top-level XMB menu items don't contain such long sub-menus, and what you'll see behind each, in many cases, can vary from system to system. For example , my Users menu contains Create New User and User Mark only, as I've only created a single PS3 user (named Mark). And if you haven't connected a removable storage device with photos, music, or pictures, those menu items will be empty, and clicking them does nothing.

On the Game menu, you will see such things as Game Data Utility (which includes useless links to any machine-specific game data you've created), Memory Card Utility (PS/PS2) (for creating one or more virtual memory cards so that legacy games can use the PS3 hard drive as if it were a memory card), Saved Data Utility (for storing game information related to specific Users), a link to the currently-inserted Blu-Ray disc-based game, and links to any games that are stored on the PS3's hard drive (these can be full or demo games, typically downloaded from the PlayStation Network). If you pause on the icon for any actual games, the XMB background will change to one that is themed like the selected game, which is a nice touch. Annoyingly, however, some of these things include music and sound, too, which gets old pretty quick.

In use, the XMB is certainly serviceable. But I find it dramatically less friendly and obvious than Microsoft's stellar (if sometimes performance challenged) Xbox 360 Dashboard, which utilizes sliding "blades" for each of its top-level menu items. Fans of the minimal--like those who believe that Mac OS X's user interface is superior to that of Windows--will absolutely love the XMB, however. It's really sparse.

Playing games

Retail PS3 games like "Resistance: Fall of Man," which I bought along with the console, are available on Blu-Ray formatted optical discs and cost about $60 each, meaning that they are as or more expensive than games on any other consoles or the PC. For that lofty sum, however, the PS3 does offer amazing graphics and sound, and a controller that will be instantly familiar to the hundreds of millions of avid PS2 gamers worldwide.

The PS3 utilizes a near-silent, slot-loading Blu-Ray drive, and when you insert a game disc, the game starts right up. Game load times, in "Resistance," anyway, aren't horrible, and are about on par with the fastest Xbox 360 titles I've played. Unlike its Dual Shock 2 predecessor, the new Sixaxis includes a new PlayStation button (like the Xbox button on the 360's superior controller) that turns on the controller and, when held down, lets you access a simple menu, from which you can quit the game (and return to the dashboard), shutdown the console, and perform other related tasks.

On that note, I'm not impressed by the Sixaxis controller at all, though I recognize that many PS2 fans may disagree. The Xbox 360 controller is better than the Sixaxis in virtually every way: It feels better in my admittedly humongous hands, and is hefty enough to be holdable without being heavy. The Sixaxis, meanwhile, is smaller and lighter, making it hard to hold, and its multiple buttons (especially the hard to reach R2 and L2) require contortions to use correctly.

The Sixaxis suffers from two other problems. First, it foregoes rumble capabilities for a little-used motion control system that seems more gimmick than useful feature. Second, though wireless, it doesn't feature a user removable battery, as with the Xbox 360 controller. (Yes, I know you can technically unscrew the controller and remove the battery, but it's not externally accessible and replaceable as is the 360 controller's battery.) That means you have to plug the ghastly thing in to charge it, and you can't use standard AA batteries or a recharger as you can on the Xbox 360. And do the controllers charge while the PS3 is off? I can't tell, as all the lights turn off. On the 360, plugged-in controllers charge while the unit is turned off. The new controller is one of the few areas in which the PS3 truly stumbles. This was the obvious time for Sony to do something better, and it's unreal that they went with a wireless version of a 6-year-old controller that foregoes rumble capabilities.

Because both PS3 models sport hard drives, however, games designed for the PS3 assume the presence of that hardware, unlike on the Xbox 360, where games often ask you (over and over and over again) to which storage device you'd like to store saved games and other data. The PS3 gets this right, and while I sort of understand why console makers need to create multiple models, Microsoft's decision to offer a hard drive-less Xbox 360 model was clearly a mistake that the availability of a separately available hard drive does not alleviate.

And about that game: Resistance: Fall of Man is an interesting if derivative first person shooter than combines the best elements from Call of Duty 3 (see my review), Gears of War (see my review), Halo 2 (see my review), Quake 4 (see my review), and other games into a fascinating experience that offers a decent storyline and fantastic graphics, sound, and game play. It's telling, perhaps, that Resistance is as good or better than any Xbox 360 game I've ever played, and yet this game is one of the first dozen or so titles that shipped with Sony's new console. In other words, despite having a year-plus head start over the PS3, the Xbox 360 didn't get a game of this quality until a year into its existence (that game, incidentally, is Gears of War, at least the single player version). This bodes well for the PS3's chances in the market. Or, not so well if you were hoping that Microsoft might somehow miraculously win this round. (I won't be reviewing Resistance per se, but I will be writing up an article comparing it to Gears of War in the near future.)

Sony, like Microsoft, also offers a selection of inexpensive downloadable games via its online service. And while the PlayStation Network isn't as extensive or friendly as Microsoft's Xbox Live, give Sony credit for a few improvements. First, you can download PS3 mini-games (arcade classics like "Q-Bert"), free PS3 game demos, and even PSP games from the PlayStation Network, the latter of which can be copied to a MemoryStick so they can be played on Sony's portable gaming system. That's a neat trick, and since Microsoft doesn't have a portable gaming play, this is feature they'll never be able to offer. Second, Sony's games--get this--cost money. That's right: You'll pay, say, $5 for that copy of Q-Bert, instead of the insanity of using Microsoft Points as is required on Xbox Live. (Remind me again: How much is 800 Microsoft Points in real-world currency?)

Overall, Xbox Live is much richer than the PlayStation Network, and you can purchase and rent TV shows and movies via Xbox Live, a feature that is not currently available on the PS3. Microsoft's selection of Xbox Live Arcade games is also much more extensive than Sony's similar collection of downloadable games though Sony could easily close the gap over time. You can also download content in the background, a feature that is sorely lacking on the PS3. (Note: This feature was since added to the PS3, in a March 23, 2007 firmware update.)

The PS3 does offer excellent compatibility with PS2 games, an important consideration for gamers looking to upgrade. (There are indications that this won't be true in Europe, however, as European PS3 consoles will apparently lack a key compatibility chipset that Sony hopes to make up for in software.) While I didn't exhaustively test every one of the 30+ PS2 titles we own, I did in fact place each one into the console to see if they'd work, and they all started up just fine. This is a huge advantage over the Xbox 360's horrific backwards compatibility problems, and will no doubt play a huge roll in converting PS2 users to the next generation. (I still own numerous original Xbox titles that won't play on the 360.) Microsoft, meanwhile, has essentially told Xbox gamers that they're going to have to hold on to their old consoles and hope they don't fall apart. And this, of course, is one area where the Sixaxis' similarity with the PS2's Dual Shock 2 actually pays off: PS2 games are quite easy to play on the nearly identical PS3 controller. Assuming you don't miss the rumble feature, of course.

Digital media and Blu-Ray

Thanks to its USB ports, memory card readers (on the high-end 60 GB version of the console only), and Blu-Ray drive, the PS3 is somewhat of a multimedia champion, though it's lack of a DVR solution and inability to connect with PC-based media over your home network leaves it somewhat lacking when compared to the Xbox 360. If you plug in a removable storage device of virtually any kind, however, you can access the content it contains, and this is still pretty compelling in its own right.

To test this functionality, I experimented with a USB 2.0-based portable hard drive that is stocked with various music, photo, and video files, as well as a 2 GB SD (Secure Digital) card that's used by one of our digital cameras. When the hard drive is connected to the PS3 via a USB port on the console's front, the Photo, Music, and Video items in the main XMB menu have a new sub-menu item --the curiously named USB Device (0UE-00HCT0)--from which it's possible to access the underlying content. Well, sort of. Apparently, there is a restriction on the layout of the folder system on the disc and/or the file formats. I had more success with the SD card: When plugged in, a new item called SD Memory Card appeared under Photo, giving me access to the contained pictures, which were located in a sub-location called Digital Camera Images. Just press Start and a cool slideshow ensues. Sadly, I didn't see any way to control the look and feel of the slideshow.

You can also view individual photos, and use the R1 and L1 buttons to navigate between pictures, and the R2 and L2 buttons to rotate them on the fly. This works pretty much as you'd expect.

Regarding Blu-Ray, I had been pretty unconcerned about the next-generation DVD movie format battle, and then it occurred to me: Now that I've got a PS3, I actually have both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD capabilities here. And sure enough, Blu-Ray based movies look excellent, though that's a complicated topic I'll save for a later date. Perhaps surprisingly, the PS3 is an excellent DVD player as well, and even using a standard Sixaxis controller as a remote control isn't horrible.

What's really missing, of course, is any kind of DVR functionality. On the Xbox 360, you can connect to a Media Center PC via its included Media Center Extender functionality, which is excellent. The PS3 lacks any such feature, making it that much less interesting as something that might be able to sit at the center of your connected home. Certainly, the PS3 is powerful enough to perform such duties. Maybe a deal could be struck with TiVo or another Media Center competitor.

Getting online

Spurred, no doubt, by the success of Xbox Live, Sony has provided PS3 users with something called the PlayStation Network. It's completely free (though individual game publishers can apparently charge customers on a per-game basis), but it also exists in a sort of disconnected state, especially if you're used to the wonders of Xbox Live. What I mean by this is that while you can download content from the PlayStation Store via your PS3 console, and compete against other gamers in online matches, and construct lists of friends and blocked users, all of these things exist completely separately from each other. If you're playing, say, Call of Duty 3, your friends can't logon, start up a game of Resistance, see that you're in a different game, and send you an invite. Instead, these experiences are all completely separate. In the Xbox 360 world, everything is inter-connected, and the scenario I just outlined is not just possible, it happens all the time. You might be watching a TV show in the 360's Media Center Extender experience and be invited to chat, or to play a game. It's a feature I really miss on the PS3, and it makes each game on that console feel really separated. There's no cohesive, collected world out there tying it all together.

Getting online is particularly easy, especially with the 60 GB version of the console, which includes Wi-Fi capabilities. You configure the PS3 for networking via the Network Settings icon, and once you set it up for your network, you're good to go. This experience is about on par with what's available on the Xbox 360, though of course no wireless capabilities come with any 360 console; you need to buy a wireless adapter separately.

The PlayStation Store is currently a lonely little place with little content. In fact, as of this writing, you can choose between exactly 20 downloadable games, though only seven are for the PS3 (the remaining 13 are for the PSP). There are also a dozen PS3 game demos to choose from and some other random downloads, like movie trailers and behind-the-scenes looks at a handful of PS3 games. Nothing serious. Again, if you're familiar with the richness and variety of what's available on Xbox Live Marketplace, none of this will sound particularly impressive. That said, the inclusion of PSP games is smart on Sony's part, and I expect this service to improve over time.

Curiously, the PS3 also includes a lame little Web browser that goes to a XMB-inspired PS3 portal from which you can view hints and tips about the new console. Or, bring up the Address Bar and try to browse the real Web. Admittedly, the few Web sites I did try to browse looked decent on the PS3's browser, but this isn't an ideal way to access this kind of information.

Accessories

While I'm shocked that Sony doesn't ship an HDMI cable in the box with high-end PS3, the company does support its new console with a logical set of hardware accessories, and of course more are on the way from both Sony and various third parties. Right now, you can choose between extra Sixaxis controllers (a whopping $50 each, and they don't even include a charging cable), various A/V cables, a Memory Card Adapter ($15, for connecting PS2 memory cards to the PS3), a typically Sony Blu-Ray DVD Remote ($25), and the like. Overall, there's nothing surprising here, though again, the Sixaxis' lack of a removable battery really limits PS3 users. Not surprisingly, a number of third party controller charging options have already appeared in the market.

Additionally, it's worth noting that the PS3 works with a variety of USB-based devices, including such things as keyboards. Not surprisingly, you can even download versions of Linux that work on the PS3. While I find the usefulness of such a thing to be dubious, its emblematic of the support Sony's devices get in the market.

Conclusions

The PlayStation 3 isn't perfect. Heck, I've purchased cars that cost less than this console, and for the price of a single PS3, you could get an Xbox 360 and four games if you shopped around. But Sony has accomplished something impressive here, and over time, of course, the price will come down. When it does, Microsoft and Nintendo are in trouble. From what I can see, the PS3 is technically superior to the Xbox 360, and while the 360 still retains a few important advantages over the PS3, Sony should be able to overcome almost all of those. (The exception, of course, is Media Center Extender functionality, but there's nothing stopping Sony from offering some sort of DVR feature in the PS3.)

So here's how it plays out. Right now, in the freeze-frame of time in which I'm writing this review, Microsoft has the overall advantage: Its Xbox 360 features hundreds of available games, compared to just a handful on the PS3. The Xbox Live service, though more expensive if you opt for the Gold membership, is vastly superior to the PlayStation Network. And Microsoft's Media Center Extender and Windows Media Connect functionality provides unparalleled connections to PC-based content, while you can also purchase and rent movies and TV shows online, features the PS3 just doesn't offer. And let's not forget Halo 3: You're never going to see this game show up on the PS3.

Looking ahead to the future, Sony has big plans for the PS3, and I expect the company to close the gap with Microsoft. More and more games will ship for the PS3, and I assume we all understand that the PS3 will eventually outstrip the Xbox 360 in this important category. The quality of PS3 games, too, will improve, with more and more 1080p titles appearing, and developers learning how to take advantage of unique PS3 features as they become more comfortable with the console. Over time, I expect the graphical quality of the best PS3 games to exceed that of the best Xbox 360 games. But it will be a close race, I'm sure, and playability is still the most important factor. Neither system, certainly, will be lacking in any major way.

Finally, while I have my concerns about the reliability of the Xbox 360, the jury is out on the PS3. It appears to be a well made, high quality device. Its virtual silence, compared to the sound deluge of the Xbox 360, is a huge advantage for anyone that wishes to stick the console next to the HDTV and home theater. Microsoft may eventually solve the sound issues with a quieter rev-2 version of their console, but that won't help existing 360 users.

In short, the PlayStation 3 is an absolutely fantastic video game console that, I feel, will ultimately beat the Xbox 360 in the market. If you're a PS2 and/or PSP devotee, the PS3 is a no-brainer, and if you think you're going to want to watch Blu-Ray movies, this is actually a pretty inexpensive way to do so right now (which says a lot about the sorry state of the Blu-Ray market, but whatever).

If you have to pick between the Xbox 360 and the PS3--and at these prices, I can't imagine many people getting both--you've got a difficult decision to make. I'll be sticking with the Xbox 360 for various reasons, most related to the device's connections with Windows and other Microsoft products, but that's not going to be as a big an issue for most people. Either console will give you a high-quality, next-generation video game experience. I think the key to deciding between them is to look at the system's other capabilities and act accordingly. Unlike many such choices, you can't really go wrong either way.