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PS4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch? How to pick the right video game console

(Photo: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

The big question is: What game console should I choose?

Here are your options:

PLAYSTATION 4

Why should I choose this console?

Although the overwhelming majority of top console games are available across multiple platforms, PlayStation still hosts a diverse selection of titles strictly for its console, ranging from fantasy to racing games. Plus, for baseball fans, it’s the only one with a true official baseball simulation in its MLB: The Show series. Both models support HDR (high-dynamic range) and let you use PlayStation VR, which is currently the most affordable high-end option for virtual reality.

On Pro models, you gain improved 4K resolutions on games and streaming apps such as Netflix. There’s also access to PlayStation Vue, Sony’s over-the-top streaming TV service, available for a monthly subscription. It also supports other entertainment apps including Amazon Video and Hulu, as well as monthly subscription service PlayStation Now, where players can enjoy older games.

I’m buying this for my kids. How are the parental controls?

Users can restrict the types of games based on age. PS4 separates them by level. For example, the maximum Level 9 is for players 18 and older, while Level 5 applies to players age 13 and up. When a level is chosen, it will only play games with the appropriate ratings. So, for Level 5, it can play anything rated Teen and below. You can also set age levels for the use of Blu-ray Discs or DVDs, as well as restrict access to the Internet browser or PlayStation VR. Accounts are guarded with a four-digit passcode.

XBOX ONE

Gamers look at the new Microsoft Xbox One X during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June. (Photo: Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images)

Why should I choose this console?

You can play a lot of the same games you can on a PS4, but at a lower price. Another key advantage: both models support 4K video streaming and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs. If you choose to bump up to the X, you get 4K gaming as well as a more powerful device that will load games faster. Xbox supports many of the same entertainment apps such as Netflix and Hulu, as well as exclusives like the NFL. (Amazon Video is in the works.)Owners of Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles can play their older games, whether they bought them digitally or still have them on disc. Xbox also has its own subscription games service, Game Pass, for older titles.

I’m buying this for my kids. How are the parental controls?

Owners can restrict the types of games, music, apps and videos that stream through the Xbox One based on ratings. There are two options for filtering the console's browser: allowing basic communication and blocking all adult sites, or limiting surfing to only sites added by parents. Owners can also limit what kids can download from the Xbox store, whether it's just free apps and games only, or nothing at all.

NINTENDO SWITCH

A key selling point for Switch is the ability to play it on the TV or as a handheld game device. (Photo: NINTENDO INC.)

Why should I choose this console?

It is like having a home and mobile console in one device. The Switch docks into a charging station connected to your television. Users can pop out the tablet-like device and play it like a handheld, with its two Joy-con controllers at the sides. Users can also remove the controllers and prop up the Switch using a kickstand in tabletop mode. Plus, as with other Nintendo devices, Switch is more family-friendly.

I’m buying this for my kids. How are the parental controls?

Of the three, Switch has the best features for parents, highlighted by a mobile app for iOS and Android. In the app, parents can set the types of game their kids can play, and if or when they can communicate with other players. Where Switch dominates its peers is the option to set timers to limit how long your kids can play, along with summaries of their activity.

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