Updated 8 February 2022

Top 9 Best game consoles of 2022

Which is the best game console? Is Nintendo best for children? We tested a range of game consoles to clarify all these questions. They say a console is just as good as its games, but there’s definetly noteworthy differences in the machines themselves that we found.

Top 10 Best game consoles of 2022

How we did the test

Our tests are independently conducted and reflect the test editor's honest and objective opinions. Selection of products and test results are in no way influenced by manufacturers, retailers or other internal or external parties.

A game console is never better than the games available for it. And if you play online it’s a bit pointless if you don’t have the same machine as your friends. But all the same, we’ve taken on the task of evaluating the machines that make up the wonderful and enormously diverse world of game consoles.

We’ve lived, tested and played on consoles for a long time, often from when they were released, and we update our reviews on an ongoing basis. At the same time, we’ve taken into account a couple of key parameters when we made our assessment.

  • Range of games. A game console without enjoyable games is completely pointless. So the range of games both now and in the future is, if anything, even more important than the console itself.

  • Controls & Hardware. Game controllers are your most important tool and of course they must be top class. But there may also be different special controls or functions in the hardware that distinguish them from the rest.

  • Services & Software. Do you have to pay to play online? How easy is it to buy games and to find friends to play with or any subscription services? It’s also very important that the console’s interface is easy to navigate and straightforward. So that, for example, during a game you can easily check what your friend wrote or invite other people to play.

  • Media. Today you can do a lot more than play on a game console, such as watching films on Blu-ray or via a range of streaming services. How they work and the opportunities they offer are also considered in our test.

The factors above have been evaluated in view of the price for the console, its accessories and subscription services to give an overall score.

We tested some of the market’s most popular game consoles, and you can see all the prices and offers for games consoles here.

1. Sony PlayStation 5 – BEST GAME CONSOLE

Worthy upgrade for the future

Price class: Premium Product type: Game console Dimensions: 390x160x104 mm Weight: 4.5 kg Processor: 3.5-GHz AMD Zen 2 Graphics: AMD RDNA 2 RAM: 16 GB Storage: 1TB SSD Video: Games and videos at up to 8K resolution Optical drive: UHD Blu-ray Wireless communication: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (Wi-Fi 6) Connections: HDMI out (HDMI 2.1), 3 USB (3.0) Accessories included: Controller, HDMI cable

Sony PlayStation 5

The Sony Playstation 5 is the most highly anticipated game console in 2020. It wasn’t hard to work this out, because Sony have almost consistently had the biggest sales success with their consoles since the mid-nineties, and the biggest fan base too. But where the Xbox is mostly a minor upgrade together with great hardware, Sony dare to take bigger steps, both for good and bad.

Impossible outside

We have to start with the really obvious and clearly negative thing. The PlayStation 5 is ugly as sin. If there had been a game console in the 1995 SF film Johnny Mnemonic it would have looked like this. Nineties futuristic that looked old and plasticky after a month. Lying down, the console looks like a giant white laptop, where the battery has swollen and cracked the entire chassis. Standing up, the most positive comparison is that it looks a bit like a router.

Playstation 5 mot PS4

The design also makes positioning the console very difficult. Placing a game console vertically or horizontally has never been a problem before. But here, the curved sides of the console, make it unsightly and unstable when it’s lying down – so much so that the console includes a small stand to make it work at all.

What should also be said, even if it’s neither positive nor negative, is that the PlayStation 5 is big. Standing up, both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 4 look like small, neat, portable consoles in comparison. However, width and height shouldn’t mean any serious problems if you want to put the console on your TV unit, just like the latest Xbox.

The controller of the future

With all that said, let’s get on to the positive stuff. Starting with the controller. Or the DualSense, as it’s called this time. It looks a bit as if you’ve taken the DualShock controller from a PlayStation 4 and glued a white plastic thing on it. Unlike the console itself, however, we say this with the utmost kindness, because it actually looks great.

Sony Playstation Dualsense

The controller comes with the same motion sensor and touch pad that we know from previous versions. What is new is a built-in microphone and significantly improved vibration function with several different levels that actually make a difference.

The big new thing here are the adaptive shoulder buttons. Depending on what you’re doing in the game, they can be as “loose” as they were in previous generations, give increasing resistance as you push them in, or click a bit like a button. We were sceptical at first, but after a little while of using them, we’d dare say this is the console’s real killer feature.

The console of the future

The machine itself has support for everything you need, both now and in the future. The hardware is as lightning fast as promised, and we're pleasantly surprised by the speed at which both new and older games load. The games currently available that take advantage of the new graphics features may not do so completely, but they look really good.

Playstation 5 hemskärm

We recognise the interface from previous generations of PlayStation, but everything has been given a facelift and there’s a host of new small functions here and there to make everything feel new and fresh (please take note for your next console release, Microsoft. This stuff matters). To demonstrate all the new functions of the hardware, flex its muscles a little and show off all the controller’s functions, the game Astro’s PlayRoom is included. This is a super cute platformer that does a great job of both serving up a big helping of nostalgia and showing off the new features.

On the game front in general, however, there’s not a lot going on. Certainly the big titles Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure are magical and customised for the new console, but they're also available on PS4. Demon’s Souls is exclusive to PS5, but it’s a remake of the same game for the PlayStation 3. Nevertheless, we still have to give Sony plus points for having a much stronger lineup for their new console than Microsoft, especially with the included game.

The PlayStation 5 has amazing power under the bonnet that’s just waiting to be fully utilised for many years to come. Despite that power, the console was whisper-quiet during our test period. The new controller delivers upgrades that really feel meaningful for future gaming. At the time of writing, just at the launch of both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, it’s clear which of the two feels like the real console of the future.

Adaptive shoulder buttons are fantasticfast at loading gamesreally quiet
Ugly as sinrather meagre range of games on launch

Price Comparison

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PlayStation 5

£449.99

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PlayStation 5 Disk Drive Console - USED

£527.74
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Sony PS5 Console

£549.99

2. Nintendo Switch – BEST PORTABLE GAME CONSOLE

Incredibly versatile entertainment machine

Price class: Premium Product type: Game console Dimensions: 173x102x13.9 mm Weight: 297 g Processor: Nvidia Tegra X1 Graphics: Maxwell-based RAM: 4 GB LPDDR4 Storage: 32 GB built-in, micro SD card slot Video: 720p in portable mode, up to 1080p in docked mode Optical drive: No Wireless communication: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Connections, console: USB-C, headphone connectors, dock. HDMI out, 2 x USB (2.0), 1 x USB (3.0) Accessories included: Controller, dock, joy con adapter

Nintendo Switch - Grey - 2019

With the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo shows once again that you don’t need the best hardware to make an entertaining game console. Merging portable and desktop gaming with a whole host of new ideas is a winning concept.

Portable with built-in multiplayer

For the uninitiated, the Nintendo Switch may feel a bit strange and hard to understand, but you quickly get the hang of it.

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Essentially, it’s a portable game console, not entirely unlike a Game Boy Advance in shape, but a bit bigger. The display measures 6.2 inches and is a touchscreen. This, plus its external dimensions, may mean you won’t just pop the Switch in your back pocket when you’re going out for the day, but it’s definitely portable.

The battery life varies depending on the games you play. The Nintendo Switch released in 2017 offered 2.5-6 hours of play time. In 2019, a new version was released, with the model name HAC-001(-01), where the only difference was better battery life that came in at around 4.5-9 hours. On each side of the screen are the controller sections, better known as Joy Cons. These are either attached to the console while you play, or you disconnect them and use them as separate controllers. If you have them loose, you can angle out a stand recessed into the back of the Nintendo Switch screen. The stand is a bit wobbly but allows you to place it on a table so you can free up your hands.

You can play with a controller in each hand, a bit like was once the case with the controllers for the Nintendo Wii. Or you can use the small plastic adapter included in the box to assemble the controls into a single unit. Many games are designed to run with just one of the controllers, allowing you to play with a friend without having to buy an extra controller, which is practical.

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You also disconnect the controllers when you put the console in the supplied dock. This allows you to send the picture to a TV and play as if it was a desktop game console.

Lots of clever details

Since 2017, a lot has happened to the Nintendo Switch, and the console itself has been released in a new version, a Lite version, and now most recently with an OLED screen.

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In addition, you can now add an adapter so you can use the controllers from your old Gamecube. In 2021, an update allowed you to finally pair a pair of Bluetooth headphones to the machine. In the past, there was only the cabled option.

Joy Con controllers also have built-in motion sensors, like the controllers for the Nintendo Wii, as well as a simpler camera and microphone. This means there are lots of fun options for controlling your games, especially through Nintendo’s own Labo series.

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Gets a long way on meagre hardware

Games for the Nintendo Switch can be divided into three broad categories: Nintendo's own, third-party and retro/indie games. As you’d expect, Nintendo’s own games are high quality and work really well on the hardware available – in practice a chip like the one in mobile phones 2016.

Retro and indie games have been a huge success for the Switch, and in the case of indie games, it’s usually the case that such games are released on PC and Nintendo Switch at the same time, while Xbox and PlayStation have to wait.

The retro games are good too. Here Nintendo has solved the issue by offering a reasonably cheap subscription service that allows you to access many old NES and SNES games. In the autumn of 2021, this service will be extended to include Nintendo 64 and Sega Mega Drive games – a nostalgic gold mine. In addition to this, there is a vibrant flora of retro games and new releases available from the online store.

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Unfortunately third party games are largely made up of new releases. Of course, this is nice if you ‘haven’t played the games before, but most of the time they’re sold at full price for the Nintendo Switch while you can easily find them in the sale section for other consoles. At the same time, they often seem to be a kind of technology demo. A kind of “look, we can even get this game to run properly on a Switch”. Sometimes, like the Witcher 3 or Bioshock, the game works really well. In other cases, like Assassins Creed 3, the result is barely playable.

Despite the minimal hardware, the Nintendo Switch has proven to offer both great playing experiences and and frantic multiplayer fun from a machine that’s as unique as much of the games intended for it.

Incredibly flexible systemincludes two controllerslots of great and fun games
Slightly short battery lifehardware a bit minimal

3. Microsoft Xbox Series S - BEST BUDGET CHOICE

Product type: Game console Dimensions: 275x151x63.5 mm Weight: 1.93 g Processor: AMD Zen 2, 8 core, 3.6 GHz Graphics: AMD Radeon RDNA, 4 TFLOPS Memory: 4 GB LPDDR4 Storage: 512 GB built-in, proprietary memory expansion up to 2 TB Video: Games in 1440p, video in 4K Optical unit: No Wireless communication: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Connections: HDMI 2.1, Ethernet, 3x USB-A 3.2 Accessories included: HDMI cable, manual controller

Microsoft Xbox Series S

The Xbox Series S is the smallest of the new generation consoles. While Sony sell two identical Playstation 5’s – one with a disc player and one without – Microsoft have chosen to go down the budget route with their Xbox Series S. This means a lot of technical limitations, but depending on the type of player you are they may not even be noticeable.

Tiny console

One of the interesting things about the Xbox Series S is that it’s the only one of the new generation of gaming consoles that you can easily go out and buy in almost any store. The PS5 and the Series X are usually sold out and have been since their release, but it's relatively easy to get hold of this small machine.

This is probably because most people want to avoid buying what they view as the lesser version of a game console. And on paper, that’s exactly what it is. The Xbox Series S lacks a Blu-ray reader for games or films – though you can manage by downloading or streaming instead. At the same time, the storage space is almost half of what Series X offers: 512 GB compared to 1 TB. When it comes to sheer numbers and technical muscle, the Xbox Series S is about a third as powerful as the Xbox Series X, with a graphical computing power of 4 teraflops compared to 12. This is also clear when it comes to what the console can output. While there is support for 4K resolution in video apps such as Disney+ or Netflix, for games it’s restricted to a maximum of 1440p (2560x1440 pixels).

Which doesn't sound great. Especially as the previous generation's turbo variant, the Xbox One X, already offered 6 teraflops.

But what the Xbox Series S can boast of instead are its minimal dimensions. It’s almost as if you could glue a small screen on it and call it an overgrown Nintendo Switch. Not that it’s very important, but it does make it much easier to find space for this console than both its predecessor and the Series X. At the same time, it is, like its big brother, extremely quiet. This isn’t something that any of the Xbox One models could claim, particularly the X edition.

Huge range of games

We also have the same concerns here as we had about the Series X. Namely, that the whole thing doesn’t feel particularly next gen. The interface is identical to the Xbox One, with the only update in the last year being 4K resolution. The controller, apart from a share button, is also identical to the previous generation. Here, the PS5, with its new controller and new interfaces, does feel fresher.

So is everything about the Xbox Series S is bad, then? Actually it’s not. If you feel that all the technical chat is overwhelming or simply uninteresting, this is the machine you. The same applies if you want a huge range of games and at the same time to be future-proof for the games arriving tomorrow – then this is a cheap solution.

Because that’s pretty much the point. Of course, when we compare them side by side, games on the Series X and PS5 clearly look better, above all with more sharpness. But that’s only when you really study everything in detail. If you don’t do that, but just indulge in having fun with a game, you actually have no idea what resolution the game is running in – particularly not if you’re sitting a few metres from the screen.

There’s a slight worry that future games may look less good on the Series S, or that the leaner console will reduce the graphics quality compared to the PS5. But at the same time, we haven’t seen any such trends so far, so that concern is probably unjustified.

You can already play streamed games on the Xbox Series S, both via Microsoft’s own Xbox Cloud and Steam (and similar services) via the built-in browser. As streamed games grow, there’s no reason to believe that an Xbox Series S couldn’t be used to play games in 4K and with full graphics, even streamed. If you can do that with a Chromecast, a budget Xbox can definitely handle them.

Until then, there’s already a huge range of games in Microsoft's store. If you add the Game Pass game service, where you can play as much as you want of a really extensive library for a monthly fee, and the Xbox Series S is becoming increasingly attractive. Especially since the Game Pass is really good for both new and old titles, in a way that the PlayStation equivalent can only dream of today.

Buying an Xbox Series S means you aren’t getting the most high-tech machine in the neighbourhood, of course. But at the same time, you actually miss out on nothing. It's a console you can get your hands on today. You don’t have to buy a state-of-the-art TV to take advantage of it, it’s quiet and small, and with Game Pass you have more games available than you could possibly have time to play. That makes the Xbox Series S a perfect budget choice, both today and tomorrow.

Cheap next-gen consolelarge selection of gamesconvenient formatsilent
4K only for videoslightly uncertain future performancesame interface as previous generationbarely updated controller

4. Nintendo Switch OLED

Luxury edition of already great gaming machine

Price class: Premium Product type: Game console Dimensions: 242x102x13.9 mm Weight: 420 g Processor: Nvidia Tegra X1 Graphics: Maxwell-based RAM: 4 GB LPDDR4 Storage: 64 GB built-in, micro SD card slot Video: 720p in portable mode, up to 1080p in docked mode Optical drive: No Wireless communication: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Connections, console: USB-C, headphone connectors, dock. HDMI out, 2 x USB, Ethernet Accessories included: Controller, dock, joy con adapter

Nintendo Switch OLED Model - White

Ever since the release of the Nintendo Switch in 2017, there have been rumours of a Pro version of the console. When the Nintendo Switch Lite was released about two years ago, the whispers gained new momentum.

Now the “Pro” version of the Nintendo Switch is finally here, but it’s not quite what we’d expected. Instead, the Nintendo Switch OLED is a slightly more high end version, in the style of the various XL editions that Nintendo’s portable consoles usually have.

nintendo-switch-oled-white-04

Same inside

Let’s deal with the big question first. The Nintendo Switch OLED is in many ways the same machine, with the same chip, as the normal Nintendo Switch. It’s by no means the Pro release many people expected, and this far into the life of the Switch there’s probably no point hoping for one either. Nor does it mean that the games that might be running poorly on a normal Switch will work better here, unfortunately.

Although the inside’s the same, you also get new features such as support for wireless headphones, which the Nintendo Switch got through a recent update. At the same time, the internal storage is actually twice as big, at 64 gigabytes. This means you don’t have to invest in a memory card out of the box. This is handy as the OLED model is about a hundred quid more expensive than its predecessor.

Even the outside looks pretty identical. The same Joy Con controllers still work and the dimensions should mean that the machine also fits in the various Labo cartons Nintendo has released over the years.

However, one new thing about the outside is the folding stand. It now runs across the whole machine and can be set steplessly in a variety of positions. The previous table-top stands felt, to say the least, wobbly and limited.

L-Spelkonsol-nintendo-switch-oled-white

Fresh but not faultless screen

The biggest innovation is the screen. While the console itself has more or less the same external dimensions as before, the frames around the screen have become thinner, allowing for a larger screen. 6.2 inches has now become 7 inches, and with significantly better OLED screen technology, giving you better colours and deeper blacks.

It’s also here that Nintendo does its now classic XL manoeuvre. Because the screen is 0.7 inches larger, but the resolution remains at 720p, or 1280x720 pixels. This was a bit of a problem with, for example, the Nintendo DS XL, which did the same and produced some pretty fuzzy graphics as a result. We don’t really get the same experience here because the resolution is already high from the start, but at the same time, you can't expect a sharper picture.

The OLED screen also raises one of the machine's biggest questions. Because while OLED technology delivers a great picture, there’s always the worry of burn-in on the screen. This is caused by stationary objects on the screen, like interfaces in a game (the life meter, for example), as well as parts with high brightness.

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Nintendo themselves say the Switch OLED is designed to last, but at the same time recommends that users always apply both automatic brightness and automatic shut-off when inactive.

The kind of features to move pixels or menu options to ‘wash’ the screen that you find on TVs are absent here. Although the risk of burn-in is quite small, it sounds a bit like Nintendo leaving the responsibility more to the user than trying to solve it themselves.

Updated dock

An advantage of OLED technology is that the display can use a bit less power. This is obvious on Nintendo’s new Switch, because battery life remains at the same level as the updated 2019 Switch, despite the larger screen. Of course, everything depends on the type of games you play, but you’ll get between 4.5-9 hours out of it.

The docking station, which allows you to connect the console to a TV, has also been updated. The actual docking process feels a bit more stable this time around. Inside the cover, Nintendo has removed the third USB port and replaced it with a network port for those who want to avoid Wi-Fi connection. However, the maximum resolution of 1080p in docked mode remains.

The Nintendo Switch OLED is in many ways the same kind of XL edition that the Nintendo DS and 3DS received some way into their lifecycles. We’re unlikely to see a Switch Pro. Instead it’s probably time for a new console generation from Nintendo – we’d guess this will be in 2023.

If you definitely need a wired network connection or a more luxurious screen when playing on the go, either as a first-time buyer or to increase the number of Switches in your household, the Nintendo Switch OLED offers a slightly more high end alternative to the mainstream edition. At the same time, you aren’t missing much if you buy the normal version, which is the better choice financially.

Great screenbetter standsame fun features as the original Switch
Quite expensiverisk of burn-inno higher resolution or performance

5. Xbox Series X

The future is familiar

Price class: Premium Product type: Game console Dimensions: 301x151x151 mm Weight: 4.45 kg Processor: 3.8-GHz AMD Zen 2 Graphics: AMD RDNA 2 RAM: 16 GB Storage: 1TB SSD Video: Games and videos at up to 8K resolution Optical drive: UHD Blu-ray Wireless communication: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Connections: HDMI out (HDMI 2.1), 3 USB (3.0) Accessories included: Controller, 1 month Xbox Gold trial subscription, HDMI cable

Microsoft Xbox Series X

The Xbox Series X is the high-end version of Microsoft's new Xbox. It has more power and speed than any game console before, but it’s been launched at a time that means it can’t really show them off.

Tower with limitations

The Xbox Series X doesn’t look like any game console we’ve seen before. Well, unless you’ve ever stacked two Nintendo Gamecubes on top of each other, in which case you might get the idea. It has a rectangular shape that’s meant to stand up in the style of PC boxes from the dawn of... The computer age. You can lie it down, but the height can be a problem if you don’t have much space in your TV unit.

Unlike the Xbox One, here Microsoft have no illusions about the machine being a kind of hub for all home entertainment. This means you don’t have extra HDMI ports on the back (or the horrible Kinect camera that the console originally included). The console is primarily intended for gaming, full stop. Of course, the disc player supports everything from DVD to 4K Blu-ray, and you can run apps like Netflix and Disney+ on it, but games come first.

Xbox Series X

That's why we're disappointed when the console comes to life for the first time. Other than a simplified process for getting started, the interface is exactly the same as that on the Xbox One. That means the same muddled structure. In other words, we don’t get that feel you normally do from a new console, of having the future in your living room.

And to sprinkle additional salt in the wound, HDR10+ isn’t currently supported, and although the console has the technical ability to spit out 8K resolution, this function isn’t available at the moment.

Xbox Series X

Focus on the old

The controller is also essentially identical to the previous generation. It has a new button, designed to allow you to capture screenshots and record material, but otherwise it’s the same. Of course, this means you can use your old Xbox controllers on your new machine and save a few quid. At the same time, we’d love to see updated functions like the new shoulder buttons on the PlayStation 5 controller.

What’s unfortunately the same as when the Xbox One was launched is the scant selection of game titles. A console should be really launched with one, or preferably a couple, of titles that show what the machine is capable of.

Xbox Series X

The first Xbox had Halo. The Xbox 360 did the same with Kameo and Project Gotham Racing 3. For the Xbox Series X, there are hardly any titles exclusive to the console at launch. Instead, the idea is that the machine is capable of playing virtually all titles from previous generations of Xbox.

A number of games, such as Gears of War 5 and Forza 4, have been upgraded to take advantage of the power in the new console. But you’ll have to wait at least half a year more before there are exclusive titles that take more advantage of the power of the console.

Xbox Series X

Silent powerhouse

Unlike when the Xbox One first arrived, there are no major mistakes during the launch. But it feels like Microsoft could have done more with both hardware and software.

While we don’t have much in the way of games to test the machine’s muscles with, we get a reasonable insight into how it works. For a start, you can’t hear it at all, despite hours of gaming in 4K resolution. It’s pretty much silent.

The most impressive bit, and what’s pretty much the thing about this generation of consoles, is the load times. Loading a new course in Gears 5 or Doom Eternal takes a couple of seconds instead of giving you time to go and make a cup of coffee in the meantime. This is where the speed of the new storage becomes truly apparent, and it’s very impressive.

Xbox Series X

There’s simply an incredible amount of power in the Xbox Series X that will provide gaming experiences and graphics of a quality we’ve not been close to with today’s generation of consoles. It’s just that you can’t see its full glory at launch.

At the same time, it’s really hard to beat Game Pass, the game subscription service, which gives you a huge number of games in most categories for a fixed monthly fee. It’s much better than PlayStation Now, the equivalent for Sony machines.

The Xbox Series X is an impressive game console and, like any of them, it’s hard to evaluate the machine on launch. There’s certainly loads of potential and a solid subscription service for gaming both on and offline. However, we’d have liked to have seen a launch with fireworks rather than just the start of an acceleration.

Loads games amazingly fastquiethuge potential
Poor range of big games on launchthe same bad interface as beforenot much new about the controller

6. Nintendo Switch Lite

The best portable console you can buy

Product type: Game console Dimensions: 91.x208x13.9 mm Weight: 275 g Processor: Nvidia Tegra Graphics: Nvidia Tegra RAM: 4 GB Storage: 32GB flash memory, expandable with micro SD card Video: 5.5 inch LCD-screen with 1280x720 pixel resolution Optical device: No, only slots for Nintendo Switch cartridges Wireless communication: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1 Connections: USB-C Speaker: Yes, stereo Accessories: Charger Miscellaneous: Motion sensor camera and vibration in hand controller, light sensor in screen

Nintendo Switch Lite - Grey

The Nintendo Switch Lite has a lot of things going for it. It has a slightly smaller screen than the standard Nintendo Switch – 5.5 instead of 6.2 inches, but with the same resolution. The battery life is about the same too, but many of the Switch’s unique characteristics are gone.

Focuses only on portability

It doesn’t include a dock to connect the Switch Lite to a TV, because there’s no support for one. This is a portable game console in every way. This also means you can’t remove the controllers, as they’re fixed to the console. The folding stand on the back of its bigger sibling has also been removed.

Other than that, everything’s pretty much as it has been on the normal Switch for a couple of years now. There’s no problem connecting extra controllers wirelessly, you still charge it with USB-C, and all of the games work. Well, the latter is partially true. If you have games that require separate controllers and motion control, things get a bit tricky, but you can do this by buying them separately.

Nintendo’s wonderful Labo cardboard folding workshop only partly works, because many of the constructions are intended to fit the screen part of the Switch.

Same advantages, same disadvantages

If we look at the Switch as a portable console, however, it’s fantastic. The smaller format makes it much nicer to hold and the fact that the screen is a bit smaller is never a problem. Even big games load and perform in the same way as they did on the original Switch.

Because you’re locked into portable mode, it’s worth knowing that this is one of the very best portable game consoles Nintendo have ever built.

All the same, sharing material between old and new Switch units isn’t optimal. Moving a game profile isn’t a problem, but although trying to share it (and games downloaded via that account) between two consoles is doable, it's a frustrating process that requires both a lot of time and constant connection to the internet to keep both consoles working.

A similar frustration, which also applies to the standard Switch, is that Nintendo deals with online stuff the same way that the rest of the industry did ten years ago. Impossible friend codes still appear instead of the online profile we’ve actually created. The store is very slow, difficult to understand and there are a few options to sort and navigate.

You don’t notice this if you buy your games in physical format. Digital purchases also work well, but the process for accessing anything online feels much more complicated than for the Xbox or PlayStation.

At the same time, it’s the games and the experience that’s most important. Over the years the Nintendo Switch has been around, a really strong game library has built up from both big and small developers. This means the Switch Lite was launched with what’s probably the most extensive game library in history – particularly for an entirely portable console.

The Nintendo Switch Lite is one of Nintendo's best portable consoles ever. The smaller size fits both younger players and those with larger hands. The main disadvantage is actually sharing purchased material between two consoles, and Nintendo should really have been able to make this easier. If they’d done that, the Switch Lite would have got full marks both as a portable console and extra family console.

Convenient formatgood to holdgreat game library
Complicated account management and online experiencepoor battery life

7. Xbox One S

Product type: Game console Dimensions: 300x240x60 mm Weight: 3.8 kg Processor: AMD Jaguar 8x1.75 GHz Graphics: AMD Radeon RAM: 8GB DDR3 RAM Storage: 500 GB/1 TB/2 TB Video: Games and videos at up to 4K resolution Optical device: UHD Blu-ray Wireless communication: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Connections: HDMI in+out (HDMI 2.0b), 3 USB (3.0), optical S/PDIF, IR out Accessories: Controller, 1 month Xbox Gold trial subscription, HDMI cable

Microsoft Xbox One S 1TB - White Edition

The Xbox One S is a modern and well thought out game console. If you've ever played a lot on the Xbox 360, you’ll also appreciate how quiet the One is.

And the controls are just as nice as they’ve always been. They’ve been given a slightly textured grip that’s unfamiliar and a little disturbing to begin with, but if you play long sessions they really help with your grip and over time you get used to them and feel that this is exactly how things should always have been. The ergonomic and comfortable controller is actually one of the big advantages with the Xbox.

The only thing we’re lacking is actually a battery pack so you don’t have to change batteries two or three times a week.

Easy to find new friends

Another advantage is the software. Not the appearance of it, but the content. For example, the subscription service is really good, both in terms of price and value for money. It’s also easy to stream – provided you have the right equipment – and there’s support for upscaling to 4K for film.

The software contains a number of apps – in any case the most important ones such as Spotify, Netflix etc. Even if the range could have been broader given that the One has been out for a while now.

As well as apps, you also have the game streaming service Mixer integrated (Twitch is available as an app), the possibility of sharing games with other people and the wonderful Groups.

Groups is a great function if you enjoy playing together with other people but don’t have many friends to play with. You can post that you’re looking for players for a particular game and enter tags for your requirements. You can also apply to join other people’s groups. This is a great way of quickly finding gaming buddies and makes many multiplayer games more fun.

Sluggish menus

The menus flow really well even though there’s some lag. The main problem with the menus is actually the interface. You have to click far too many times to get where you want and even the in-game shortcut menu has this problem. In spring 2020, the interface was updated a little and has become slightly cleaner, but it’s still essentially the same messy system that’s far behind the PlayStation 4 interface.

Despite its minor shortcomings, the Xbox One S is the ultimate gaming console given its price and the fact that it’s so easy to play with other people. Of course PlayStation players won’t change platform, but if you were disappointed in the original Xbox One when it was released, you might want to think again. And if you still haven’t decided between PlayStation and Xbox, the One S is a really good buy – particularly if you enjoy multiplayer games.

  • The difference between the Xbox One X and Xbox One S is primarily that the X is slightly more powerful and therefore supports true 4K, while the S can only upscale full HD content to 4K. If you have a 4KTV – or intend to buy one relatively soon – you’ll probably want to go for an X instead.
Groups makes it easy to find gaming buddiesreally good hand controllerquietgreat subscription serviceintegrated Mixer is convenient
No battery pack for the controllerunnecessarily complex UI

8. Playstation 4 Slim

Wide range of games and a smaller price tag

Product type: Game console Dimensions: 265 × 39 × 288 mm Weight: 2.1 kg Processor: AMD Jaguar Graphics: AMD Radeon RAM: 8GB GDDR5 (shared) Storage: 500 GB or 1 TB Video: Games and videos at up to 1080p resolution Optical device: Full HD Blu-ray Wireless communication: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 2.1 Connections: HDMI, 2 USB (3.1), Aux Accessories: Simple headset, hand controller

Sony Playstation 4 Slim 1TB - Black Edition

The PlayStation 4 Slim, or PS4 Slim, or quite simply the now normal edition of the PlayStation 4 because the previous “fat” model has been discontinued – many fond names for the same thing. And this really is a favourite in the console world; one that’s now starting to reach veteran age and has a fantastic game library.

Slim version with new controller

Just as Sony did with all the previous versions of the PlayStation, the PS4 Slim is an intermediate model where it’s been possible to shrink the technology, resulting in a rather smaller console than the original. Not that it actually makes much difference, because the machine tends to sit hidden in a TV unit.

The updated hardware comes with an improved cooling system that means the machine is also significantly quieter than its big brother. But after a period of intense play it’s not exactly silent – as you’ll notice if you’re playing late at night on low volume. In fact Xbox have succeeded better here.

The console includes an updated version of the Dual Shock 4 controller. Looked at from the outside, you’d be forgiven for not seeing any differences, because they’re almost identical. But the built-in battery is a bit more powerful and now you have some dots on the analogue sticks that are intended to increase your grip.

Unfortunately, the Blu-ray player only plays normal discs, not 4K UHD films like the corresponding slim edition of the Xbox (and neither does the PS4 Pro, which can cope with 4K games).

The interface is the same as a normal PS4 – in other words simple and straightforward without too many confusing elements.

Mature console

The PlayStation 4 is approaching the end of the line, with the PlayStation 5 just around the corner. The PS4 Slim can cope with the same games – including with the amazingly successful PS VR virtual reality headset. This means that it may not be the console for you if you want the very latest technology – you might as well just wait for the PS5. But if you’re interested in a really substantial games library with some of the most influential titles of this generation of consoles, it’s a must-have. The games library is an extensive one, with something for everyone.

But if you play online a lot or want to take advantage of a subscription service for games, the PS4 lags behind the Xbox. Both matching and socialising in and around games are much more natural there. PlayStation Now is also a slow and rather meagre subscription service compared to the Xbox equivalent.

But if it’s single player games you’re after, the PlayStation 4 Slim is a mature machine with some of this generation’s very best exclusive games.

Good range of gamesgood interfacenice controllers
Lacks 4K at least for filmsrather poor game subscriptionquickly gets noisy

9. Google Stadia

Product type: Game console with streaming games Dimensions: Not applicable Weight: Not applicable Processor: Not applicable Graphics: Not applicable Memory: Not applicable Storage: Not applicable Video: Up to 4K gaming Optical unit: No Wireless communication: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Connections: Not applicable Accessories included: Manual controller

The Google Stadia isn’t a game console in the classic sense. In fact, it's not a game console at all. Instead, it’s a somewhat confused mishmash between a Chromecast, Netflix, your mobile phone and an almost random selection of game controllers and displays.

Free to play

Essentially, it's a streaming service, like Netflix or Spotify, but for gaming. So far, it’s all simple and logical.

Better still, there’s a free option. This means you can use and play Stadia without paying a penny. But as a free customer you are locked to the vanishingly small number of games available on the free side, or the games you choose to buy. You’re also limited to 1080p resolution and even sadder numbers when it comes to audio and refresh rate.

Other than that, there's Stadia Pro – a pay-as-you-go service that delivers 60 frames per second of 4K gaming with better sound. You also get both free games and discounts on paid games.

But let’s just rewind a bit and see how it actually works.

Controlled via mobile

You essentially need a phone – either an iPhone or Android, with the Stadia app installed. This app is your hub and access point for both games and hardware. This is where you can buy games, manage your subscription, fiddle with settings and communicate with friends. The app is also a hub for both controls and “screens”, as Google calls them.

This is also where Stadia starts to get a bit messy.

Both screens and controls are made up of a variety of ways to connect (see https://support.google.com/stadia/answer/9578631?hl=en for the full list).

When it comes to screens, this means either a compatible mobile phone or a tablet. It also means a TV with an connected Chromecast Ultra or Google Chromecast with Google TV. It also means some, but far from all, TVs and streaming boxes with Google TV or Android TV built in. At the time of writing, Stadia support is just about to be launched for LG TVs from 2020 and later.

In short: Either you play Stadia through a compatible mobile phone or a TV that’s “sufficiently” Chromecast compatible in one way or another. But what about controllers? The easiest way is to use the on-screen controllers on your phone or tablet. However, this gives you terrible control options and in almost any situation a proper manual controller is better. There are a number of options. If you’re playing on a PC, Mac, or Chromebook, the Chrome browser is also available as a choice.

Xbox controllers (from Xbox 360 and up), PlayStation 4 controllers and the Switch Pro controller also work. You connect these either via Bluetooth to your phone or tablet, or via a cable to a compatible TV with Android TV or Google TV built in. Mouse and keyboard work, but only via the web browser.

Stadias own controller is most convenient and runs on Wi-Fi. This can actually talk to any compatible device and can also be used to turn on the power if it’s connected to a Chromecast or Chromecast-compatible TV.

Confusing? Yes. If you want the easiest solution for playing on your TV, Google sells a “Stadia Premiere Edition”. This includes both hand-held controller and a Chromecast Ultra, which is what we mainly used in this test.

Flawless gaming, with good connectivity

With that out of the way, does it actually work? As you might guess, it demands a little more from your internet connection to work well. If you’re running a loose Chromecast solution of course that requires a fast and stable Wi-Fi network in your home. The minimum requirement is at least 10 megabits per second and “faster for resolutions over 720p”, as Google itself says.

Of course, these factors will affect your gaming experience, whether or not you’re in high resolution via the Stadia Pro. When we test the games included via Stadia, it works well and is stable. The games run more or less as fast as they are would on console or PC, and we can't complain about the quality of the graphics.

However, the same doesn’t seem to be true for purchased games. There, it seems to take a few minutes for the game to “get going”, so to speak. In all modes, we get past the title screen and some way into the world in both Cyberpunk and Doom Eternal before it stops being pixelated. One or two minutes in, however, the system seems to get what we’re doing and everything becomes crystal clear. It’s strange and a bit of a shame that it only seems to do this with games you’ve purchased, and not with free titles or the games included via Stadia Pro.

Once up and running, however, we’re pleasantly surprised at how well you can actually play and the tight response we get from the controller – even though it is separately connected via Wi-Fi. With a lot of factors that can go wrong, it’s definitely not something we’d want to use in a competition, but for a little relaxed gaming, there’s nothing to complain about at all. At the same time, the Stadia controller feels a lot more plasticky than its counterparts for the Xbox and PlayStation.

Terrible interface

If there is something we do have opinions about, however, it’s that Stadia Pro doesn’t really feel worth it. Yes, you get 4K with surround sound and 60 fps, and that feels like the minimum way games should be experienced. But is it worth 9 quid a month versus the free option? There, we aren’t so sure. Even the discounts and included games feel a bit thin for their price, especially now we’re used to the Xbox Game Pass and how their range looks. You can add Ubisoft’s subscription service too, but that’s another monthly fee – not like the Game Pass, which includes EA Play.

The layout of the Stadia service is pretty confusing too. Via a Chromecast, you can only see the titles that are in your library. Via the app on your mobile, you can change settings and find games to buy or add via pre-made lists. However, if you actually want to be able to search for a title – something that is, after all, Google’s main business – you’ll need to use a browser for it even to be possible. Because everything is so tightly tied to your Google account, it wouldn’t have hurt if we could look around for new games when we're already on the sofa, or at least be able to search through the app.

On the one hand, it’s hats off for Google. If you have the right technical setup, this system works very well and gives you, other than the cost of a controller, a free game console where you only pay for the games. That really feels like the obvious future for gaming as a whole.

On the other hand, Stadia Pro feels a bit thin. If we subscribe to a gaming streaming service, we don’t want to have to think about buying games. At the same time, the service is strictly PC-adapted, which means that all forms of multiplayer are online and not at home on your sofa. And of course there’s the big headache with which controllers and screens work, and how, which means the technical threshold is quite high for normal casual gamers.

Google Stadia is an exciting service that may well be the future. But just now it feels more like a tech demonstration that you pay for than a full-grown game streaming service.

Freegood picture and sound (if you have a good connection)good response in the Stadia controller
Poor range of gamesvery confusing in terms of what supports the servicemessy and baffling structure in the Stadia app

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