[UPDATE 4, 9 July 2007: Xbox 360 Price Drop Coming Soon? And, PS3/Xbox 360 News Roundup, HERE.]
[UPDATE 3, 7 July 2007: the extended warranty and the “Red Ring of Death.” Is the 360 still the better value? Analysis HERE.]
[UPDATE 2, 11 June 2007: Despite denials by Microsoft, indicators are that a price drop is forthcoming, likely by holiday season ’07, that would see the Core dropping to an even more reasonable $199 (far less likely, but even more compelling, would see the Premium drop to $199–which would all but kill the PS3. I’m being hyperbolic, but it would be an exceedingly strong strategic move that would likely quickly cut into the PS3′s hopes to accelerate gains in the market)]
[UPDATED 8 June 2007: A.O.’s new Xbox 360 Elite Review is posted HERE, examining MS’ new 1080p HDMI, 120 gig, top-of-the line Xbox 360 in detail]
Interesting comparison over at 1up.com, chart format.
If you compile all the costs of the 360 Elite vs. the 60 gig PS3, souping up each to meet the experience offered by the other, the 360 Elite is cheaper, even including the $179 cost of the HD-DVD player on the 360 side.
That’s right, a fully souped up 360 Elite (base price $479) matching all that the PS3 offers costs $849.95, while a fully souped-up PS3 (base price $599) matching everything the Xbox 360 Elite offers costs $857.70. The 360 Elite is cheaper by about $10. Factor in the new $179 price point of the HD-DVD drive, and you get a $829.95 price point, making the 360 Elite “complete package” $30 cheaper.
The fact that you’ve got to toss an additional $400.00 into each system to reach a point of equality demonstrates just how strategic Sony and Microsoft’s choices were in manufacturing these boxes — they’re hedging their bets about what consumers want. And off the bat, Sony decided that the Blu-Ray was non-negotiable — at significant cost to the consumer, and to the significant benefit (albeit possibly temporary) of Sony’s own Blu-Ray DVD format. (We’ll see if the console wars level out as PS3 adoption continues, or if the benefit seen to the format since the PS3′s release continues.)
Of course if you ditch the goal of making “exactly comparable” gaming systems and simply get the eminently playable 360 Elite, with 120 gig HD on its own, and purchase a 12-month Gold Card for Xbox Live, your total is $529.98. The PS3 has only a 60 gig HD, but has the Blu-Ray player — and it costs you $599.99. There, the 360 Elite–certainly as good a next-gen game console as the PS3–is $70.01 cheaper. Moreover, for the large bulk of us (like me), the 360 Premium is perfectly fine: VGA offers full 1080p HD content, beautiful on my 47″ 1080p LCD HDTV, and without the copy protection that HDMI imposes on you (that’s arguably good thing, and adds flexibility), albeit at a[n] (almost unnoticeably) slight diminution in sharpness. And the 360 Premium goes for approximately $365.00 on some online sources, adding in the 12-month Gold package for a total of $414.99, or $442.71 cheaper than the PS3 60 gig “complete package.” Now of course I recognize different people buy different attachments, and that the Live membership is a yearly cost — but that’s something I certainly have no problem paying, given the quality and breadth of Microsoft’s Xbox Live service.
Having slowly begun using the Live Marketplace video offerings, I’ve really come to enjoy being able to quickly download movies and TV shows and begin watching them a few seconds to about 15 – 20 minutes (for very large HD movies) later. I’m quite happy having that access to HD content, and while I did purchase the HD-DVD add-on for the 360 (to be offered at a $179.99 price point), I rarely order HD movies from Netflix — there just aren’t that many available. The Blu-Ray drive in the PS3 is nice, but as MS correctly contends, it’s not that big of a player in the market yet.
So I still count the 360 as the winner. Being the slow starter and beset with many delays, the PS3 has much ground to cover to catch up (despite Sony Senior VP of Marketing Peter Dille’s laughable comment that the 360 is the one catching up). Good luck to Sony, though, because it’s all about, in the end, pushing prices down and getting the best tech to the consumer. A more-even playing field in next gen consoles can only be a win-win situation for us gamers, pushing down prices for consumers and getting better tech to us faster.
And lest I leave it out, the 20 gig PS3 (now discontinued?) sells for a base $549, still some $70 more than the 120 gig Elite. For truly cost-conscious shoppers who still want the next-gen experience, the Core 360 still sells for a reasonable $299.