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In terms of capability, nothing is quite like the Cell processor used in the PS3. The heart of all games is physics, and the Cell has the physics crunching power of about seven processors.
However, game companies have complained that it’s a difficult processor to program for. As a result it’s more than likely that the majority of games will be ported for use in all consoles and will never fully tap into the Cell’s power.
At the same time, some computer geeks will swear up and down that the Xbox 360 has superior processing power and graphics. It all comes down to polygons, shaders, dot operations per second, and so on. There’s a good article on GameSpot ( www.gamespot.com ) that explains the basic technology.
The Wii is vastly underpowered compared to other next generation consoles. It offers no high definition content, and has a fraction of the computing or graphics power of either the PS3 or 360. However, Nintendo has proved that polygons do not equal fun, while injecting some sanity back into the tech-spec crazed gaming world.
As for reliability, both the Wii and PS3 are so far performing quite well, while Xbox is rumoured to be plagued by overheating issues, software glitches, and the “red circle of death.” The next-generation Elite will have a lower-heat processor, and most of the early reliability issues have been dealt with according to Microsoft.
Which leads me to the last criteria, functionality. All three consoles offer an online environment that includes downloading classic games, online player, online bonus content, web browsers, and chat services, while the 360 and PS3 will offer television and movies as well.
The Wii, inexplicably, can’t be used as a DVD player, and considering I currently use a PS2 to watch movies that’s a big negative.
The Xbox 360 has the advantage because their online experience is several years more advanced than the PS3’s. The larger 120 GB hard drive also means I can load pretty much all of my music collection onto a 360 and use it as my living room stereo, as well as DVD player and game machine.
The winner? Unless PS3 does something dramatic in the next few months, it looks like I’m getting the Xbox 360. It’s not perfect, but all of the next generation systems have their drawbacks.