If you’re the type of person who can’t put down your stories, there has never been a better time to be alive. Multimedia content has experienced swift and drastic evolution over the last two decades, as Blockbuster Video painfully discovered when Netflix launched. And companies around the world have identified this trend, and responded with a wide variety of diverse media streamers and media center software.
But sometimes, too many choices can be a bad thing, and we can suffer from indecision. There are so many media center platforms to choose from these days. How can we be sure that we’re using the best one?
As any media junkie or computer geek would know, the physical hardware in system has a heavy bearing on the quality and smoothness of the video image it can produce.
Generally speaking, more memory, faster GPUs, and faster CPUs equate to a better picture quality. Surprisingly, the Xbox One X has the most raw power, which is shocking, because the Playstation formerly held that title.
By the way, if you weren’t already aware, a teraflop is a unit used to describe GPU performance. One teraflop equates to a trillion floating-point operations per second, which, in my opinion, is just bonkers. Even less than a decade ago, if you’d told people how fast these GPUs would be, they’d have called you crazy.
The following outlines Xbox One’s specifications:
The following outlines PS4’s specifications:
Regarding the RAM, I should note that a game, app, or streaming video is never going to have a full 8GB of memory at its disposal. Much of the memory is gobbled up by overhead and the operating system.
The Xbox only reserves 3GB for the OS, while the PS4 allocates 3.5GB for the OS. So, while the Xbox’s RAM is slower and an older generation, there’s actually more RAM space available to developers.
The price of a system depends on which variant you select. Different models come equipped with different hardware, as outlined in the previous section. Also, note that you can’t get a console that’s only equipped with media center functionality.
It is, after all, a gaming console, so if you were purchasing one with the overshadowing intention of using it as a media center, I would recommend the Xbox One S or the PS4 Slim since they are significantly cheaper.
The following outlines Xbox prices:
The following outlines PS4 prices:
As you can see, there is a bit of split with regards to which console is cheaper. If you want the high end model of either system, which comes with a larger hard drive when compared with the entry level model, the PS4 Pro is the more inexpensive option. In fact, you’ll save a hundred bucks, but remember that the PS4 Pro only has a 500GB HDD while the Xbox One X has a full 1TB HDD.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Xbox One S is the least expensive of the entry level models. I’m not sure that $50 is really a significant amount of savings, especially if you’re a gamer. Some games are simply exclusive to an individual platform.
So, if you know you want an entry level console and feel conflicted about which to choose, I’d advise you to research game titles and their availability on each platform before proceeding. But, as we’re about to see, Xbox has one clear advantage over Playstation as a media center.
Streaming is, of course, a mainstay of HTPC’s and media centers, but we’ll get to that later. First, I wanted to talk about live TV, which is still a crucial consideration – even though cable networks are waning as fast as physical bookstores.
In the live TV arena, Xbox wins hands down. In fact, PS4 doesn’t even have a live TV feature. Believe it or not, you have the ability to hook your Xbox up to your live TV package. That way you don’t have to fool around with various inputs on your TV, which, let’s face it, can be a real chore.
How many times have you lost the remote and wasted tedious minutes trying to find the stinkin’ thing so you could switch inputs from your Xbox to watch the news? Not only can you integrate streaming media, personal libraries, video games, and live TV all into one Xbox interface, you can also use voice commands if you have the Kinect.
With a simple voice command, you can toggle between playing a video game and watching live television…without any remotes throwing a monkey wrench into any part of the process.
Streaming is undoubtedly the most popular way to deliver content to a system…for now, at least. There are, however, other important ways to digest content, such as through a disc player.
This is not only true of video content but music as well. Fortunately, both the Xbox and PS4 are well equipped to play not only DVDs, but Blue Ray discs as well.
But the Xbox has yet another advantage over the PS4. Believe it or not, the PS4 is not capable of reading media or playing music on CDs.
Conversely, the Xbox actually has the ability to read CDs. To be completely honest, CDs are an entirely archaic storage medium, and not practical in the modern age. However, I suppose there is some modest value in being able to read a CD if you have a library of music you want to digitize onto your Xbox.
Surprisingly enough, the Xbox boasts another great advantages over the PS4. This feature is called MP3 playback or streaming DLNA. Basically, if you have another computer on your local network with an extensive multimedia library (music library, video library, etc.), you have the opportunity to stream that data straight to your Xbox. However, the ability to stream media to your console is only available on the Xbox One. This feature is not included with the PS4.
I personally don’t think this advantage is all that crucial. After all, most people stream their content from online sources and apps like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and other similar sites.
Furthermore, I find that most people who already have an HTPC or media server typically store their content on an external hard drive, which makes that content easily accessible and distributable to the Xbox in the first place. Still, I must concede that this is one more competitive advantage the Xbox has over PS4…at least within the realm of media centers.
So, what does it all boil down to, and which system is the superior media center? Well, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Xbox certainly has a clear advantage over PS4 as a media server.
That’s a tough pill for me to swallow, because in generations past, the PS4 was known for being more advanced and being packed with better hardware than the Xbox. Oh, and who hasn’t heard of the “red ring of death” in past generations of Xbox products?
I suppose the pendulum has finally swung in the opposite direction, and now each console’s standing has been reversed. The tables have turned, and not only does the Xbox have better media center features, it also has better hardware, and provides a larger hard drive on which to store loads of personal media and entertainment data.
Also, I absolutely love the fact that you can pipe your live TV connection into the Xbox. For the sake of a media center, I have to award the victory to the Microsoft Xbox.
However, the vast majority of people who buy a game console don’t intend to use it as a media center only. You must also take into account which video game titles are available on your platform, and also how much multiplayer networks cost.
As a final characteristic, I would also advise you to consider that Xbox Live costs a subscription fee, but the Playstation Network is free. Nevertheless, Xbox is a better media center.