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What to buy Little Johnny for Christmas — Simple comparison of Playstation 3 vs Microsoft Xbox 360 vs Nintento Wii

Posted in Games, Lifehacks, Technology by engtech on November 12, 2006

It’s a great time to be a gamer (if your pocketbook is big enough), but a horrible time to be a parent. The Next Gen console war is on full swing starting next weekend and people are going to be confused at what to buy. Engadget has a nice pictorial view of the different consoles (the Wii is so small). Paul Stamatiou goes off-topic and talks about why the Wii will be a success.

Read more to find out how the type of TV set and backwards compatibility can help you make your choice. Factor the hidden costs of ownership into your budget.

What kind of TV do you have?

Here’s a *very* simple guide for what to buy this holiday season: look at your TV. Is it a High Definition TV? If the answer is “yes” then goto Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. If “no” then goto Nintendo Wii.

Video games are designed for the maximum resolution of the video game system. This means that fonts can be unreadable / games can have issues when playing with standard definition televisions. The back of the game box will mention what resolutions it supports, but this can be misleading (and who remembers to check?)

If that isn’t enough of a deciding factor about what to buy, look at what gaming systems/consoles your gamer has already been playing.

What gaming systems do you already have?

Backwards compatibility:

  • Playstation 3 can play PS1 or PS2 games.
  • Xbox 360 can play Xbox games.
  • Nintendo Wii can play Nintendo GameCube games and connect to the portable Nintendo DS (some games can use it as a touchscreen/microphone controller).
    • The Nintendo Wii can play old games for the NES, Super NES, Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx16 consoles, but you will have to download them and pay for them again (even if you already own it).

Which console is best?

The short answer is that they’re all good — it depends on your needs.

  • Playstation 3 has the highest technical specs, costs the most, and will be the least available for buying.
    • Note: you can buy both and Xbox 360 and a Wii for the price of a Playstation 3.
  • Xbox 360 has the mid-range technical specs, mid-range cost, and is widely available for buying.
  • Nintendo Wii has the lowest technical specs (but the most innovative game controller), lowest cost, and is supposed to be widely available for buying.

Image source

Be aware of the hidden costs

  • Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 have low-end/high-end packages.
    • Don’t buy the basic packages. You will inevitably have to buy one of the missing components that would have been included for free in the high-end package. This one missing component would easily match the price difference.
    • The divide between the low-end/high-end packaged on the Playstation 3 isn’t as bad as on the Xbox 360.
  • Factor the cost of accessories into your budget.
    • Remember that you need something to save games! Most consoles don’t come with a mechanism for storing save games out of the box.

Real cost of a console — Xbox 360 case study

A couple of months ago I won a free Xbox 360. Here’s a list of what I’ve spent on the console since then. Prices are in Canadian dollars. BestBuy.ca used for the current price of the components.

  • Xbox 360 basic (free, regular cost $399)
    • Compared to high-end package: 1 wired controller (not wireless), no games, no way to save games, no HD TV cables, no headset.
  • 1 Wireless controller – $55
  • 1 Wired controller – $45
    • 3 controllers in total including the one that came with the system.
  • 20 GB hard drive – $130
    • This is truly ridiculous. It has only 12 GB of usable space. I could buy a 300 GB hard drive for my computer at the same price. It only looks reasonable compared to a 64 MB memory unit for $45.
  • Video games ($40-$70 each)
    • In the 3 months I’ve had my 360 I’ve bought Dead Rising ($65), Xbox Live Arcade ($40), Dead or Alive 4 ($65), Table Tennis ($45), Marvel Ultimate Alliance ($65) and Lego Starwars 2 ($55)
    • My most played / favorite games have been Dead Rising, Dead or Alive 4, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance.

Always expect to pay more than just the price of the base system. It gets expensive very fast.


If you’re a parent buying a console as a gift for your child, go with the Nintendo Wii. If you are getting an Xbox 360 / Playstation 3, plan on upgrading to an HD TV set within the same year.

Parents make sure that what ever you buy it includes a way to save games (hard drive or memory unit), cables to connect to your TV (composite, component, SVideo, HDMI, etc) and a game your child wants to play. It is a good idea to buy a game as well as the system, and the ones that are given for free are usually only so-so. You will probably also want to play multiplayer games on the Internet, so that will include a monthly subscription fee.

If consoles are too expensive, I also heartily recommend the Nintendo DS portable gaming system. I was very surprised at how fun it is to play (Brain Age and Animal Crossing are my girlfriend’s favs).


If you’re looking to read more about this subject, check out Yahoo! Video Games report on the Next Gen Console War and this list of the key difference between the low-end and high-end systems for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

48 Responses

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  1. Rollin said, on November 12, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    Something tells me you’re a fan of Nintendo machines. Can’t fault ya. But that Wii still hasn’t proved itself, as much as i know it can. It just needs that one big game or a handful of solid ones to get moving.

    But yea, even as a serious game player, i’m not keen on spending all that cash on the other 2 systems, even though i like them.

  2. noscere said, on November 12, 2006 at 10:01 pm

    There is a little known rumour that when the Xbox360 was being manufactured ther contracts were handed out to three companies. One of these companies used cheap parts to create the 360`s Hard drive which meens that some games do have problems playing games.
    I would either go for the PS3 or the Nintendo

  3. engtech said, on November 12, 2006 at 10:10 pm

    Something tells me you’re a fan of Nintendo machines. Can’t fault ya. But that Wii still hasn’t proved itself, as much as i know it can. It just needs that one big game or a handful of solid ones to get moving.

    I wasn’t a fan until I got a Nintendo DS. They really are doing some cool stuff by changing how people interface with the machine. That gives me high hopes for the Wii. I will be buying one (even though I have a 360), it seems that Nintendo is doing a lot of things right with this product launch — such as positioning themselves for the 80% non-HD market that Sony/Microsoft are fighting over.
    I have high hopes for the games as well. It looks like Nintendo will have some real gems at product launch, where as I’m only starting to really like the 360 games that are coming out now — after a year on the market.

  4. Rollin said, on November 13, 2006 at 3:23 am

    Nah, sorry, but Wii’s launch games are exactly why i’m not excited for it. Not one of them screams newness. That Elebits though, that might be a winner.

    I’m waiting for that apocalypse epic Disaster, as well as the psycho-japanese Heroes. Those 2 games, if i wasn’t buying Wii next sunday, i’d buy it when those come out. Yum.

  5. Kerri said, on November 13, 2006 at 4:00 am

    I agree with what you say Engtech, from what i’ve read about the ps3 and 360, the picture isnt half as good on a normal tv compared with a HD, its just a shame that parents will probably have to factor in the hidden cost of a hdtv when purchasing new consoles. I don’t know what its like over in Canada but in england, i don’t know anyone that has a HDTV yet, except for the shops that have them for the demo 360 units.

  6. EliteGamer said, on November 13, 2006 at 4:11 am

    For kids wii of course. Wii is good for all ages. For online play i would go with 360. If you want the top of the top and bragging righs of how much it is go with ps3.

  7. blaze said, on November 13, 2006 at 9:50 am

    Will there be a noticeable difference with the Wii on HDTV’s compared to the other 2 consoles? I have already preordered a Wii (because my girlfriend loves Zelda) but I may eventually get a ps3 as I am a huge fan of the ps2 & just love the way Sony’s work. I have seen a video of someone playing a PS3 on a HDTV and it looks f***ing amazing. I just wonder if the wii will be decent too?

  8. […] In an effort to get consumers in a shopping spree before the holiday season, companies go out their way to make sure that you’ve made up your mind about what product to buy months in advance. This pre-holiday period has been dubbed Sepoctonocembre. Although it’s good for the economy, as a consumer I have always been appaled by this sort of slave-like mass consumption (click-whirr). Luckily I can look at it from a marketing perspective now. One of the biggest Sepoctonocembre battles this year undoubtedly takes place in the gaming industry, where Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all launch their new product. Interestingly, a new factor is taken into the equation: whether or not you own a High Definition TV. If not, you’re better of with Nintendo’s Wii. Or, if you’re really screwed, your kids want to have the Microsoft’s Xbox 360 or Sony’s Playstation 3 and you have to buy a new TV as well. […]

  9. engtech said, on November 13, 2006 at 8:46 pm

    Will there be a noticeable difference with the Wii on HDTV’s compared to the other 2 consoles?

    I wish I remembered the link, but I read something yesterday that was saying the Wii looks so bad on HD TV that the guy was thinking of buying a cheapo $250 TV just for the Wii.

  10. blaze said, on November 14, 2006 at 6:52 am

    Oh please try and remember engtech? Serious.

    I saw some vid on engadget very briefly yesterday and it looked decent enough.

    I’d really like to see what this guy says though.

  11. engtech said, on November 14, 2006 at 8:41 am


    I found it. Duh, open browser history and search for Wii. Wasn’t that hard at all.


    Summary: if you’re connecting the Wii to an HD TV you really need component cables, that should be carried at Circuit City, GameStop and Best Buy. So not as much of an issue as I thought it was from first read (updated my article).

  12. Rollin said, on November 14, 2006 at 9:40 am

    An understated fact is that the 360 and PS3 look exceptionally better even on a normal SDTV. The whole trip about HD is optional and optimal, but those systems are prefectly suitable on an SDTV. People forget that– rather, i think the HD brou-ha-ha made everyone think you need to shell out 10 bills just to play them.

    Parents will ask “can i use this on a normal television?”, the 18 year old Best Buy employee will say “Well, no but–” mom says “Good, thanks. I’ll take the Xbox 3.”

    Don’t base your purchase on what tv you own or not.

  13. engtech said, on November 14, 2006 at 10:56 am

    @Rollins: obviously, I’m in disagreement on you. Yes, the PS3/Xbox 360 games look better than Wii, but when font readability is an issue on a 36″ sony … I’d imagine it’ll be an even bigger prob on 32″/24″ TVs.

    Out of 6 games I had more than a couple of font issues. The Live Arcade games are even worse when it comes to trying to read the text.

    I don’t know what to say. I’ve got a 360 and I say there’s font issues with SD TV, you don’t have a 360 and say there aren’t.

    I like my Xbox 360 just fine, but I know I’d like it a lot more with an HD TV. I have a friend with a 50″ plasma who has completely given up getting past the first mission on Dead Rising because of the font issues (in fairness, that game is by FAR the worst case).

  14. Rollin said, on November 14, 2006 at 12:30 pm

    I wasn’t trying to say that there are no problems with HD games on SD, i’ve heard of the font issues. My statement was directed at what Kerri said, which is people think that, because these are HD consoles, you need an HD tv set to use them period.

    I didn’t say there weren’t font issues, i said the consoles would be fine on an SDTV. Of course you’d like it better with an HDTV, but lacking one doesn’t limit you from playing. The HD era is about enhancing your experiece if you choose to, it’s not forced upon you. The font issues are game specific.

    If you’re talking about parents buying their kids a game system, i don’t think the font readability is something that they would think of or something that would be brought up to them by the clerk selling them the system. “Font can be an issue!? You take this back, young man.” Even less likely that a young gamer would be playing Dead Rising.

    What i’m contesting here, eng, is the automatic choice of Wii just for having a standard def display. Choosing a system goes beyond what kind of tv you have. HD consoles are meant to sway HDTV owners a lot easier, not turn off SDTV owners.

  15. dpcough said, on November 15, 2006 at 1:30 am

    Rollin is a Nintendo fan even though he hates them! lol

  16. engtech said, on November 16, 2006 at 8:53 am

    Here’s an update on the Wii component cables situation. It looks like they’ll be unavailable for a while:


  17. TsknRaider said, on November 16, 2006 at 11:24 pm

    Could you really say the Xbox 360 is mid-tech technology, according to reports I’ve read, the Sony’s PS3 only has more raw power, but is hampered by its design. Any truth to this?

  18. engtech said, on November 17, 2006 at 10:46 am

    @TsknRaider: Here’s the side by side comparison of the numbers: http://www.gamespot.com/features/6125087/index.html?type=tech

    The reason why I gave the xbox 360 a mid-end vs the ps3 high-end is because of the overall package

    – ps3 base system comes with an HD, xbox 360 base doesn’t.
    – ps3 can have 3 more wireless controller
    – ps3 is gigabit ethernet vs 360 100mb ethernet
    – ps3 has 6 more usb ports
    – ps3 has blu-ray vs xbox 360 12x dvd-rom

    In my mind that gave the PS3 an edge, even though when it comes to CPU/GPU power they are hard to compare side-by-side.

  19. Gabe said, on November 23, 2006 at 5:25 am

    First the nomal 360 costs 300 not 400 second you DO NOT need an HDTV to play 360 you only need it to get the BEst out of it also you seem to favor Nintendo over the rest for some reason.

  20. engtech said, on November 23, 2006 at 8:50 am

    @Gabe: Canadian dollars. The price has been $400 for a year, but they’ve finally added some games to the core (http://www.futureshop.ca/catalog/proddetail.asp?logon=&langid=EN&sku_id=0665000FS10080084&catid=)
    Also, I didn’t say that an HDTV is necessary to play 360, just that some games don’t look good on 480 even on a largish TV. If you have a low end TV at home, getting a high end system is wasted.

  21. engtech said, on November 24, 2006 at 6:23 am

    Gizmodo has a guide on making your own component cables for the Wii: http://www.kotaku.com/gaming/wii/diy-wii-component-cables-216880.php

  22. engtech said, on November 24, 2006 at 11:48 pm

    Kotaku has screenshots of the Wii in HD-TV with/without component cables:


  23. […] I’ve been purposely skipping the ridiculous supply and demand story is the Playstation 3. The stories are horrible, especially with the muggings and shootings. No one needs a console for Christmas that badly. What I find craziest about the situation is the E-bay PS3 Greymarket. One of the guys at Gizmodo crunches the numbers and comes up with 10% of shipped Playstation 3’s have ended up on E-Bay. […]

  24. Justin said, on November 29, 2006 at 12:05 am

    XBOX 360 takes over wii by a ton. I played wii at my friends house and the graphics suck and they dont even have good games. I havent played the ps3 but from what i have heard i think xbox 360 is better.

  25. Justin said, on November 29, 2006 at 12:10 am

    oops i didnt meen 2 put 1 up as my website i was just goin there to look at games

  26. engtech said, on November 29, 2006 at 4:39 am

    Here’s a good site that’s chronicalling the accidents people are having with Wiimotes in the home: http://www.wiihaveaproblem.com/

  27. engtech said, on November 29, 2006 at 7:41 pm

    @justin: at least you can walk into a store and buy a 360, unlike a Wii.

    Yeah, I’m interested to see the Wii graphics first hand.

  28. Digest for November 2006 « //engtech said, on November 29, 2006 at 8:25 pm

    […] What to buy Little Johnny for Christmas — Simple comparison of Playstation 3 vs Microsoft Xbox 360 vs Nintento Wii […]

  29. Justin said, on November 30, 2006 at 3:42 am

    @engtech Yah I agree. If you get a chance you should definetly try the wii. It is fun but the graphics arent good and it gets boring after a while. I definetly wouldnt buy the wii. If i had to buy a system right now.

  30. engtech said, on December 02, 2006 at 1:30 am

    1up has Top 10 complains about the Wii and PS3:


  31. Justin said, on December 03, 2006 at 11:57 pm

    @engtech 1up has Top 10 complains about the Wii and PS3

    hah figures

  32. Justin said, on December 04, 2006 at 12:12 am

    Hey Rollin thats wierd, I dont see any complates on teh xbox 360 on 1up.com. Must be because xbox 360 is 100% better then the wii and ps3. The Pnintendo wii has tons of complaints and the PS3 is over priced and has a ton of complaints!!!!

  33. person said, on December 04, 2006 at 1:38 am

    shit i wanna get a xbox 360 for xmas but i got a small tv o and as for the wii ive seen the games and their still like gamecube and have that cartoon animation which i do not like

  34. JDawg said, on December 04, 2006 at 3:56 am

    Ok I have to say the 360 is the best system out there. I am an owner of it for the past year. I got it on day 1 and its been working smooth ever since. The 360 is only $399.99 and you get the hard drive, wireless controler, an xbox live head set, and a clicker. The PS3 is overrated and a jokeshow. It is $599.99 and the only place to absolutly have it for xmas is on EBAY.com for a shnazzle load of money. I mean its not even that good. I heard the online market place is screwy and you need the premium package for wi-fi access. I also heard that the wireless controlers are going insane and people run into walls. If your are looking for more of a childrens gaming system, looky looky, the Wii. WEEEEEEEEEEE. Nintendo is more of a kid’s company. My friend says that the games are sweet, though the graphics are not next gen graphics. But it is very tiring because you flail like a fish out o’ water to play games. Thus, in conclusin XBOX 360 owns. I have to say, i played in HD and Gears of War, the best game ever, was very nice. Get the 360 for Xmas/Hunnakah/Kwaanza.

  35. JDawg said, on December 05, 2006 at 12:15 am

    yah j dawg u r right. If u r a kid i would definetly go with the wii because it is more cartoon like and not as sophistacated as the xbox 360 but ps3 i think is just out of the question. i was looking at 1up and it was going for $1400!!!!!!!!

  36. justin said, on December 05, 2006 at 12:16 am

    oops lol i wrote the thing wehre it says j dawg wrote it its just j dawg wa on my comp when he wrote his comment but yah i totally agree with him

  37. justin said, on December 05, 2006 at 12:18 am

    so comment 32 was my comment homies!

  38. engtech said, on December 05, 2006 at 3:00 am

    This is pretty good riff on the whole ebay/ps3 thing: https://engtech.wordpress.com/2006/11/25/the-girls-of-ebay-and-their-playstation-3s/
    I’m interested in the Wii for the fact that’s it’s a bit of an exercise workout. I’m feeling the bloggerflab setting in.

  39. engtech said, on December 08, 2006 at 10:26 am

    It looks like the Wii component cables really are going to be a necessity for anyone with a somewhat decent TV:

  40. justin said, on December 13, 2006 at 12:51 am

    Im soo excited to get my 360!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  41. engtech said, on December 13, 2006 at 1:19 am

    @justin: try out Small Arms (XBox Live Arcade download). Lots of fun.

  42. justin said, on December 14, 2006 at 3:57 am

    k engtech i will!

  43. Matthew said, on December 17, 2006 at 2:09 am

    First of all Engtech, in one of your comments you said the ps3 was better because it supported 4 wireless controllers, so does the 360. The ps3 does support 1GB ethernet, but how many people have that fast of internet, and how many people will be playing the ps3 online anyways. I bought my 360 in late november this year. I play it on a 24″ Sanyo tv and from my time of purchase i have played around 60 different games on it and have had no problems with the fonts, using component and standard av cables. One other thing is the blu-ray. I find this almost pointless because sure it gives you the option to get those dvds, but they cost a lot more and will look like a normal dvd on a normal tv anyways. If i was going to give any advice on getting a next gen system, i would definately get an xbox 360, the main reason being that it has been out for over a year and a lot of the bugs have been removed, which you can’t say for the ps3 where a lot of them didnt work at all.

  44. Brett said, on February 13, 2007 at 7:20 am

    no offence but most of u are really dumb, PS3 has all the Technical Power, Blue Ray Holds more, it has more power, 6 axis motion, space for 7 controlers, bigger stock hard drive, better cooling, and it looks better, Unfortunatley it costs a ton

    Xbox, like the guy said mid range everything including price

    Wii, Cheap, new interface, right now acording to my 2 friends wich have them, they get boring FAST

    PS3 will come out on top in the long run, if developers create crazy Wii games they might too, Developers will crave the 50 gig space on a blue ray it means 5 times the game, Xbox 360’s gonna be like N64 great power and games but the space availiable made them lack and people liked the size of the 700Mb CD’s it really is Quite simple, yes im enjoying my 360 but my brothers PS3 i would say is hands down better, but i mean i work weekends and he works full time he had the money to waste

  45. ThierryHenry14 said, on February 13, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    I am hoping to get a playstation 3 when it arrives. However i have heard that you can only play the ps3 on an hdtv. My tv says “hd ready” on it. But i do not have things such as skysports HD because i do not have the box thingy. If i were to get a playstation 3 would it work on my TV? Thanks

  46. Timothy Jiang said, on February 22, 2007 at 6:21 am

    Just so ya know its reversed on availability. You can find a PS3 almost anywhere and it is impossible to find a wii. Xbox is available everywhere on the up side.

  47. […] did a little research and found a couple of links that look like they should aid in a decision. What to buy Little Johnny for Christmas — Simple comparison of Playstation 3 vs Microsoft Xbox… Effectu – More Wii Details Emerge Hope I’ve helped. __________________ EC server: […]

  48. […] the supply is so much lower than the demand, especially with the muggings and shootings. No one needs a console for Christmas that badly. What I find craziest about the situation is the E-bay PS3 Grey Market. One of the guys […]

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