Despite the rise of gaming on mobile devices, serious gamers and many families still want a gaming console to play advanced games on a big screen in the living room – and, for most consoles, to also stream online movies and more through the device. Unless you’re heavily invested in a different gaming platform, like the PlayStation or the Wii, we think the Xbox One is the best console this holiday season.
And the price is even right at the moment. Until Christmas, all Xbox One bundles (including the console, high-profile games, and sometimes Kinect, Microsoft's motion-based controller) are discounted by an additional $50. This essentially means the Xbox One base console will be cheaper than the PlayStation 4 through the holidays.
Since the Xbox One launched in 2013, Microsoft has built upon and improved the overall experience. Many remember its rocky launch, but since then the Xbox One has seen major improvements, and its solid library of exclusive and semi-exclusive games and apps make it the only place to go for experiences like "Killer Instinct," "Halo: Master Chief Collection" and "Sunset Overdrive."
One pricing caveat: If you want to play games online, you'll have to pay for a subscription to Xbox Live. However, many entertainment apps, like Netflix and Hulu Plus, that once required an Xbox Live paid account no longer do. If you do opt to buy Xbox Live, you'll get free games every month, one for the Xbox 360 and one for the Xbox One.
The Xbox One has several social and media apps, so even if you aren't playing "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare," you can use the console to surf the web, chat on Skype and watch the newest Ted Talks. The interface uses tiles, so navigation is similar to Windows 8 on a PC – which might be a mixed blessing, we suppose, given the lukewarm reception for that Windows OS. You can quickly browse your favorite apps and see new and popular options. When you are using an app or a game, you split the screen to use another app. This means you can Skype with your family, say, while browsing through vacation images on your HDTV.