In today's connected world, gaming consoles do far more than just let you play video games. In fact, they're expanding the definition of what a modern entertainment device can and should be. Consoles are specialized, prepackaged computers designed, first and foremost, for playing video games on your TV. They tend to be much cheaper than gaming PCs, but they only work with games made for a given system. Apart from games they can also be of use to watch Blu-ray and DVD movies. Every modern system has downloadable apps for services like Netflix and YouTube, letting you stream music and video. In fact, many consoles become home entertainment centerpieces, since they’re great for so much more than gaming.

Xbox One

The Xbox One is Microsoft's video game console and streaming entertainment powerhouse. It's great for the hardcore gamer in the family - but it's a fully featured multimedia hub. The console packs an 8-core processor, 8 GB RAM and a 500 GB hard drive. It has built-in Wi-Fi, a Blu-ray player and USB 3.0.

The hardware is nice, but even more impressive is the upgraded Kinect. It has better voice control and motion sensors. It can read facial expressions, track eye movements and even has infrared technology to detect movement in dimly lit areas. The Xbox One is also a powerful home entertainment console. It completely integrates with your cable TV or satellite service, so you can quickly jump from TV to movies to a game. It comes with its own program guide, and you can change channels using voice commands.

You can also stream Netflix, Hulu and other online services. With Netflix, you can instantly stream thousands of your favorite TV shows and movies right to your Xbox One. The SmartGlass app available for the Xbox One, you can turn your smartphone or tablet into a second screen. Buying an Xbox One gives you access to arguably the liveliest online community of any gaming system.

PlayStation 4

Sony's PlayStation generally is better when it comes to graphics and processing speeds. The new PS4 is a speedy eight-core AMD processor, AMD Radeon graphic processor, and 500 gigabytes of hard drive space. It comes with 8 GB of GDDR5 RAM, which is faster than the Xbox One's DDR3 RAM. It includes console, one Dual Shock 4 wireless controller, a wired headset, USB charging cable, HDMI cable and power cable.

The PlayStation Network is Sony's online community to play multiplayer games online. You can point the controller at the PlayStation Store and rent or buy a movie. TV shows, music and Netflix streaming content is also available for the console. One unique feature is "Remote Play," which lets you play PS4 games on the separate handheld PS Vita. You can also use the Vita as a second controller.

The new Dual Shock 4 controller is a nice upgrade over the PS3 controller. It has a built-in speaker and LED lights that double as a motion controller.

Playstation 4 Pro

Go beyond 1080p with the Sony PlayStation 4 Pro Gaming Console. With updated graphics architecture and support for 4K gaming, the PS4 Pro provides increased detail, higher-resolution graphics, and faster or more stable frame rates than the original PS4. High Dynamic Range (HDR) gaming and content is also supported, which takes advantage of increased color depth and contrast on compatible displays. The PlayStation 4 Pro also allows for 4K video playback from streaming services, such as Netflix and YouTube. The PS4 Pro is fully compatible with the HDR10 specification. An HDR-compatible TV produces a noticeably fuller, richer image that is closer to what the human eye naturally sees. The PlayStation's graphics processing unit (GPU) contains a unified array of 36 Compute Units based on the Polaris architecture, which collectively generate 4.2 teraflops of processing power that can be applied freely to graphics, simulation tasks, or a mixture of the two. The PlayStation 4 is also equipped with 8GB of unified system memory, easing game creation and increasing the richness of content achievable. High-speed GDDR5 is used for the memory, giving the system a total of 218 GB/s of bandwidth and providing a further boost to graphics performance.

PlayStation 4 Slim

The PlayStation 4 Slim is a great console. It's smaller, quieter and much more portable than the original PS4. The Slim drops over 2 pounds in weight, down to 4.63 pounds from 6.17, and it measures 10.43 x 11.34 x 1.54 inches, versus 10.83 x 12.01 x 2.09 inches on the older model. The Slim is 25 percent lighter, All of which is to say that the console is even more portable than its predecessor.

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