If you haven't paid much attention to gaming systems lately, you might be surprised to learn that today's state-of-the-art consoles are multi-faceted home entertainment hubs offering quite a bit more than the engaging, hyper-realistic gameplay they are known for.
Indeed, it seems the days of the dedicated game console are on the way out. While gaming is very much front and center with the Xbox One and PS4, both are Internet-connected systems that provide access to a broad range of games, movies, music, and more.
And research shows that game consoles have become a popular way to connect to the Internet. The NPD Group found in early 2014 that video game consoles topped the list of connected devices, followed by streaming media players - Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, etc. - Blu-ray players, and "smart TVs" that have built-in connectivity.
The research firm also reported in late 2013 that four in 10 consumers who stream Netflix titles to a TV used a video game console to do so, compared with 19 percent who used a streaming media player and 15 percent who used a Wi-Fi-equipped Blu-ray player.
Let's take a quick look at some of the features that elevate the Xbox One and PS4 to home entertainment hub status:
- 4K/Ultra HD-compatibility, meaning you can play games, movies, and other programming produced in the ultra-high-resolution 4K format, including episodes of House of Cards and Breaking Bad and movies now available for streaming in 4K via Netflix
- Plentiful storage, including a standard 500-gigabyte (GB) hard drive that can be supplemented with a connected flash/hard drive, SD card or cloud storage
- Home network connectivity via Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet so you can access favorite content from a PC and other devices on your network
- HDMI and USB 3.0 jacks so you can connect the console to a home theater system and other AV gear
- Web browsing (even while watching TV or playing a game on the Xbox One)
- Access to online media services, such as Netflix and Hulu Plus for streaming movies and TV, and Music Unlimited (PS4) and Xbox Music for streaming music
- Access to video on demand for rental or purchase
- Cable box control so you can browse programming or watch a show while playing a game (Xbox One)
- Social media apps (PS4) for convenient access to Facebook, Twitter, and other popular sites
The consoles also function as a Blu-ray/DVD player (that also plays CDs in the case of the PS4) and offer many other cool features, including Skype (Xbox One), voice and gesture control (Xbox One) and automatic log-in via facial recognition (PS4).
The next time family conversation turns to gaming - as in video gaming - remember that you can have state-of-the-art gameplay and a home entertainment gateway in one box.
To learn more about home technology options, consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member home technology professionals in your area.