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Published by Jasmin Elmazovski

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Best portable gaming system

With all the hype about the new generation of consoles that will release in the next year or two, I thought I’d take the time to write something about the current best of the best. Since I own or owned all of the consoles from PS1-PS4, Xbox and Nintendo I’m as excited as you are for the next generation.

So why buy a console?

They are the ideal systems to bring with you on holidays or vacations, and for your house alike. They don’t take up much space, next to none cable management, and with the latest UI from Sony and Microsoft even DVD’s are becoming less and less seen. Sure you could bring a laptop with you but to play the games these consoles run you’d need to cash out way more than these systems cost. Not to mention all of these have their exclusive games. For example, you can only play the Uncharted franchise on PS3 or PS4 nowhere else, same goes for Halo on Xbox and the latest Legend of Zelda for Nintendo. They are also compact as they can be taking into consideration what’s inside them and the best is yet to come.

Without further ado, let’s get into the best of the best;

 Overview

 

Sony PlayStation 4 Pro

Coming from a company like Sony it’s no wonder this thing is a beast. Console wise, the PS4 Pro offers almost everything you can expect from a portable gaming console. The console had a few nicknames before it was released including PS4K or PS4.5. The second one is more suitable because this is an upgrade, rather than a proper level-up of the console, which the PS5 will be.

This means you are getting the best possible version of the 3 year old console. not a next-gen one. As Sony would call it “The super-charged PS4” and it suits it very well since it’s bigger than ever. Adding to that it has more power under the hood and it can run 4K video and now supports HDR (video). Taking all of this into consideration we can say that the PS4 Pro is purely focused on gaming and performance.

While most of you won’t be interested to buy the Pro version over the stock one, there are some guys still out there who are about to join the Sony team and they are in for a treat.

 

 

DESIGN AND FEATURES

The PS4 pro is a pure beast, short and simple. A little taller than its predecessor, clearly wider and deeper though. The overall effect this gives you is something of a well-built machine.

Its rival, the Xbox One S can afford to go a bit smaller than its predecessor because the specs are the same on both. The Pro here has a bigger engine though and that alone asks for bigger space, not to mention other improvements in specs, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

 

It still has that same parallelogram shape but the sharp corners have been rounded off. There is a chrome effect on the PS logo at the top and it’s the only thing that stands out from the matte plastic. That subtle little detail adds a premium vibe to it that is very appealing.

The original two-deck design is now a three-deck. There seems to be a no functional point to this extra deck, it’s just an aesthetic feature.

As with earlier versions, two USB ports hide in the small space at the front, but Sony has added a third to the back. With this feature added I can finally charge my controller without a cable sticking out the front.

The other connections are as before: HDMI out, Ethernet, Aux (for the camera), optical out, and power. Note that the power lead is no longer a figure-of-eight cable, but instead it’s kettle lead.

Underneath all the aesthetics the PS4 Pro promises double the power of its downgrader. This means the Pro can run games faster with almost no frame rate drops on the most intense games, but most importantly, the PS4 Pro now supports 4K and HDR as I mentioned before and that is a really great addition when battling his rival- the XBOX.

The fact that the PS4 Pro can handle 4K and HDR indeed means better looking games. New PS4 games will have a ‘Pro’ option for enhanced visuals, and even some older games are getting patched right now as you are reading this.

Compatibility won’t be an issue, so you don’t have to worry about that. All PS4 games must work on standard and Pro consoles. That’s practically a rule at this point – nobody gets left out in the cold. If this wasn’t the case, then it would be entirely up to the developers to decide how to make use of the extra power that the PS4 Pro has.

The PS4 Pro is indeed quieter than the original. Of course, there is more noise when you insert a disc in it and as the fan speed gets higher, but once you install everything and play your game in normal or average conditions, it’s barely heard. If you turn your TV volume on, from your sofa for example, you can’t even be able to hear it.

 

This thing is also pretty fast. The PS4 Pro has a SATA 3 hard drive, which is an upgrade from the SATA 2 which the original had. This essentially means that the Pro can transfer data faster at almost twice the speed. Bigger games like GTA V or Hitman, they jump into action noticeably quicker and that is great, particularly because the long loading screens kill our happiness and our excitement for playing the game.

 

 

SONY PS4 PRO – CONTROLLER

There’s also a new controller. Well, a slightly tweaked version of the older one. If you’ve seen that one released with the new slim PS4, well you know exactly what to expect.

Its functionality remains the same, of course; the analogue sticks, the face buttons, Options/Share buttons, and the D-pad have all been given a new grayish tone to contrast it with the black color of the controller.

That touchpad is now also translucent. On the top side, it lets the players know which color they are in multiplayer games and matches.

All of these tweaks are aesthetic which gives the Xbox One S a couple of points, they added a tougher joysticks and somewhat of a grippier texture. The PS has licensed third parties, like Razer to make “Pro” controllers.

 

 

 

 

The Verdict

The PS4, in my mind, is the side to join when it comes to the PS vs. XBOX rivalry. Its hardware won’t get old any time soon that’s for sure, and it has all the necessities a console needs to have – all the ports and all the goodies. Although some may argue that the lack of 4K streaming is an issue, it’s not measurable to the pros you get when buying the PS4 Pro. Sony has offered us many exclusives on this console, and with the latest one (when writing this article) Horizon Zero Dawn getting top scores from IGN, GameStop and reviewers like those two. It makes us wonder what will the rest be like. The PS4 Pro is more pleasing to look at and is more elegant in my opinion. Its universal color makes it blend into the room, no matter which color the environment it’s in is. With the coming of Red Dead Redemption 2 and The Last of Us 2 its fan base is going to be even bigger, because these 2 games are considered to have the best stories a game can possibly have.

 

 

XBOX ONE S

 

Almost 3 years after the release of the original Xbox one comes a newer version of the console. In its core it’s the same thing Sony did with the PS4 which is essentially an upgraded version of the original, but not a complete level-up.

It’s smaller, quieter and the most interesting thing about it is its development of the resolution, from HD to Ultra HD (4K) – quite a large gap but it’s very welcomed. Games are up-scaled to the resolution, that means it’s not true 4K, but movies will happily make the most out of the extra pixels whether you’re streaming 4K over Netflix or playing an Ultra HD Blu-ray.

 

DESIGN AND FEATURES

Advanced electrical engineering, Moore’s Law, or even a miracle, call it whatever you want, but the Xbox One S defies what many thought was impossible – integrating a massive power supply along with an expansive 2TB hard drive into a chassis two-fifths the size of the original – or 17 x 11.4 x 4.4 inches (L x W x D) if you want to know specifics. How Microsoft pulled it off, I’ll never know.

Well… actually, I might know. Something tells me it has to do with porous siding that allows for much better airflow. A denser design would enable Microsoft to use a smaller fan and repositioning of the hard drive directly behind the disc tray instead of in the back right corner would free up tons of extra space that allowed Microsoft to just cut out of the box completely.

After that, Microsoft can move the hard drive allowing the power brick (essentially a power supply unit that you’d find in a PC) to be seated inside the console instead of sitting next to it and just creating clutter that is unnecessary on your gaming shelf.

While components have shifted on the inside of the box, the embodiment of the system has undergone a transformation of its own. Now, there are 2 physical buttons in place of the touch buttons for power and eject on the console. Those USB 3.0 ports have now also been moved to the lower half of the face of the console.

On the back side you’ll find an HDMI In port that allows you to pass in a cable box, an HDMI Out, two Super Speed USB ports and S/PDIF and ethernet ports. There is an added IR blaster on the front of the console that enables you to turn on your other devices, like your TV for example. The only thing missing in all of this is a standard for Kinect, as I stated earlier.

Another down side is that if you like your console in color schemes or anything other than pure white you are out of luck. But this color has advantages on it’s own, as white is a color of universal harmony and cleanliness and it will surely fit nicely into your living room or some other environment. It’s not all sad for you color lovers out there as the new Microsoft Xbox Design Lab program allows you to customize your controllers as you’d like them to be.

Xbox as a platform

If you’re just now joining the green team and coming from PS Nation or from PC or just casual gaming in general you’re in luck. The Xbox as a platform is the best it’s ever been. The App Store is still bare bones compared to windows 10 device but it’s vastly improved from the platform that launched 3 years ago.

Navigation is also getting better with some minor improvements. For example they moved My Apps and Games to the top right of the home screen and that alone makes the interface much more efficient. Now it’s easier to get from one place to another without getting lost.

The final feature I’d like to mention is Cortana, a recent addition to the Xbox that works similarly to Siri or now even Amazon’s Alexa. Cortana understands commands like Invite my friend John to a party” or “Pull up my achievements from GTA.” Using Cortana is a more intuitive way of navigating Xbox and it is a major step in the right direction from the Kinect-only voice commands.

While Microsoft has said that the chip set has remained exactly the same, it can’t be, with that said they have swapped the standard Blu-ray disc drive for a 4K. HDR-capable one that can read Ultra HD Blu-rays. This is the next generation of physical media.

 

It’s hard not to be impressed with the Xbox One S’s 4K UHD TV. From the moment you turn on the system and set the picture to 4K it’s clear that the Xbox One S is the most premium system on the market. The biggest upgrade is in the graphical department. The system can either upscale all content or you can leave that to your TV. Of course, to see any sort of difference between the original Xbox One and the S version you’ll need to upgrade your TV.

 

Check out our list of the best 4K TVs if you’re looking to make the upgrade and truly embrace the next generation.

 

While the pool of streaming media content is a bit dry, so is the App Store itself. But do not worry, because Microsoft will be introducing more and more apps to its store. Especially now since they have promised the addition of Universal Windows Apps. Apps that cross lines between Windows 10 and Xbox are slowly rolling out now.

I was concerned that the loading and buffering of this more demanding content would take longer, but it seemed to load faster than the original Xbox One on its normal HD resolution. So far only Netflix has a 4K version of its app on the Xbox Store, but YouTube will follow shortly…as for Amazon or Vudu there are still no upgrades. If you are not a subscriber to Netflix’s 4K streaming tier, there’s always an option to pop in a Blu-Ray disc and surprisingly the Xbox One S is one of the cheapest ways to play 4K Blu-Ray right now.

 

You might ask yourself, but what about gaming content ?

It’s only logical that games look better in 4K than in any other resolution, even if that is achieved by up-scaling instead of native 4K read-through.

In the time of this review. I’ve checked out many games but Fallout 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider, along with GTA V obviously had me most impressed.

Starting games took the usual, approx. 15 seconds of waiting, but once they started it was a delight. They looked way better than on the Xbox One before. While roaming the streets of Diamond City ( Fallout 4 ) I noticed stadium lightning for the first time ever. Its surface reflections added almost as much to the scene as the character models.

 

Playing the Rise of the Tomb Raider, the full-motion capture sequences had a crisp finish to them. It was like watching a 4K movie instead of watching a game rendered in 1080p.

 

GTA V

I very much enjoy playing Michael, he’s by far my favorite character. I play every free roam session with him and I noticed something pretty spectacular – while driving at night time I came across a cliff (where you see Los Santos for the 1st time as Trevor) and the city was amazing. The lights. the night sky, simply perfection.

These experiences may not be indicative of the experience of every game out there. But given everything I’ve seen so far, games are smoother, faster and better looking here than they’ve ever been on the original Xbox One.

 

With all that said, it’s important to mention that Microsoft won’t be making games for the Xbox One S. Although some games may have additional HDR capabilities on Microsoft’s latest gaming system, exclusives are out of the picture. Even the developers at 343 that made Halo won’t make the franchise exclusive to the One S by any means.

 

Xbox One S controller

Of course in order to play any game out there you’re going to need a controller. And to add to the upgrade of the console itself, Microsoft also upgraded the controllers as well.

The One S controller is almost the exact copy of the original’s controller, but with small, yet effective improvements.

 

 

The first improvement is that the Xbox One S controller will be the first ever controller by Microsoft to natively support Bluetooth. That means that if you want to use it as a controller for your PC you won’t need the Xbox One USB receiver plugged in in order to use it.

The other minor tweaks are in the textured grip that makes the controller easier to hold for an extended amount of time, and more powerful wireless antenna that allows players to sit farther away from the system.

While the cross-over from the Xbox One to the Xbox One S would’ve been a perfect time to switch the controller’s power source from batteries to rechargeable Li-Ion battery, that wasn’t the case here this time around. I guess they are holding that change for the next system code named Project Scorpio that comes out sometime this year. But if you do have a couple of the original Xbox One’s controllers lying around your house, you won’t have to replace them with new ones as they will work just fine with the One S as they did with the original.

 

The Verdict

The Xbox One S is a beast of its own. Although there might not me many exclusives to watch out for on this end of the spectrum, the existing multi-platform games bring a lot more than on the PS4. Due to its support of true 4K and HDR all content on it is a delight to look at. Its size is a major improvement and the overall “simple” design, along with the color, makes it a beautiful package. The App Store may be a little dry at the moment but that will just keep improving and there is a lot to watch out for with all of this in mind.

 

 

Nintendo switch

It is a compromise between a console and a handheld gaming device. its design is unique. With every new hardware that Nintendo releases, we can see that they are trying weird and fun ideas.

We can see that Nintendo is always trying to be different from other gaming consoles. They introduced motion-controls to gaming world with Wii U, and made a handheld device with a 3D display called Nintendo 3DS.  With the latest console they allowed you to play games wherever you want. With Nintendo Switch you can use it as a console to play at home or go out and use it as handheld device. After all, every gamer wants to enjoy full gaming experience where ever they are. This console works better than you would expect.  It has some small issues but it’s not far from being perfect.  Designers found a good compromise between being a home console and a handheld device.

Design and features

When you buy the Nintendo Switch in its box you will find:

The main body of console with two detachable controller sides, a grip that enables you to combine these controller portions into a gamepad, two straps that can be attached to its sides and make them individual controllers and a dock that allows you to connect Nintendo with television. USB power cable and an HDMI cable will also be in the box. As you can see you will get a lot of accessories.  Joy-con straps and Joy-con gripes can easily get misplaced, so you should find a way to keep them together.

Handheld mode

Let’s say something about handheld mode first.

When you use it in its mode you have to attach two portions of controller, to the left and to the right side of the screen and then you can enjoy the handheld mode. As a matter of fact, the size and shape of analogue sticks look like a modern version of PS Vita. On top side of the console you have a headphone jack, a volume rocker and a power button.  On bottom side of the console there is a kickstand that allows you to use it in tabletop mode. It conceals a micro SD slot that allows the console to expand its storage. Its storage is limited to only 32G, so if you prefer downloading games over buying them than you’ll have to invest in a micro SD card with support up to 2Tb  On the right side of the detachable Joy-con there is the classic A, B, X and Y button configuration that has been used on and off since the SNES, two shoulder buttons and an analogue stick.  There is also a small „+“-shaped button and a home button used for reaching the system console menus. On the left side,  there is a small „-“ button that is used as the „select“ button, an analogue stick, a share button (which is used for taking screenshots and will be upgraded to video record screen), two shoulder buttons and a Nintendo D-pad. The left Joy-con has a set of four circular buttons. Their shape is identical to face buttons on the right. That decision was made so the left Joy-con can be used as an individual controller. In this configuration its D-pad is acting as face buttons.

Console mode

If you want to connect the device to your television you place the main body of the console in the included dock and then you can use it in the console mode.The transfer of the viewing experience from its own screen to the television is as seamless as it could possibly be.  You can continue to play in the second because you don’t have to pause the game. Detaching the Joy-con is not too easy but it can be done by pressing and holding a small button on the back and sliding the controller up. The dock that you use to connect Switch to is around the same size as the Switch’s middle portions. On the back there is a USB port that is used to provide the console with a power, and an HDMI port that you use to connect your Nintendo to television. On the left side there are two USB ports that can be used for charging your controllers.

Tabletop mode

The last form is the „Tabletop mode“. The console can be propped on the table by using kickstand which you attach to the back of console and then detach Joy-cons for semi-portable gaming. The situation which you will not be able to use it is when you are taking a shower (Note: don’t do this, this device is not waterproof)

Set up

Setting up is really easy. To set up this console you have to attach the Joy-cons and press the power button. When you want to play games on TV you have to connect your dock with TV via HDMI and give it some power via the included USB power lead, and then just slip the console into the dock. When you want to pair your controllers it is a little bit more complicated because you can use it either paired or separately. When you want to use controller you just press both shoulder buttons at the same time. You can also use the keyboard. It’s not as good as smartphone keyboard but it’s better than traditional controller. You have to set up your account and Wi-Fi. After you have done everything, you will be able to enjoy your brand new console.

The verdict

The new Switch is a step in the right direction. Offering compatibility with multi-               functionality for the maximum experience. With its exclusive game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild getting a 10/10 from GameSpot and IGN it’s sure to attract all Nintendo lovers and Zelda lovers alike. It has vibrant colors that will keep the attention of the toddlers too. It’s easy to carry around and, with its few problems that can and will be easily fixed with future updates, it’s the ideal bang for your buck.

Conclusion

If you were to ask me what I would choose. I’d go with the PS4 Pro. It simply has the best design (in my opinion), and the best UI. It has the more exclusive games than all other consoles and add to that, their exclusives reach 8 or 9/10 scores. Last of Us, Uncharted are the most popular and there are other hidden gems, but I’ll let you find those when you get the console. Don’t want to spoil the fun.

 

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Jasmin Elmazovski

Experienced blogger, currently attending High school in Bosnia. At the age of 3 I got my first computer and since then I’ve been in love with everything tech related. Traveled across Europe and attended most of the technology events out there. I’m also a huge video game enthusiast and I’ve played many titles, all from Super Mario to the latest Resident Evil 7 or BF1.
I believe everything can be achieved by the power of will, therefore my life quote would be: “If you can dream it, you can achieve it!”

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