Wii vs. PlayStation 3 vs. Xbox 360: Which Wins Our Battle for Best Family Console?

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video gamingHow's this for finding a silver lining in a bad economy? Family bonding is the big winner in the race to cut costs on holiday gifts this year. The group gift is king! And that means the big video game systems that Mom and Dad shied away from before are topping the holiday shopping lists for 2011.

Now the question: which to choose? The Nintendo Wii has reigned supreme as the kid-friendly game console. But the addition of the Kinect to the Xbox 360 set-up has shot Microsoft's console to the top of a host of hot holiday toy lists this year. And then there's the PlayStation 3 with Move ... another attempt to get your kids off their butts. You only need one, so how do you know which one is the better bet? Let's break this down:

For the Bargain Hunter:

wii console

Nintendo Wii

Introduced back in 2008, the Wii has topped family lists ever since because it offers the whole package: fitness options to get on top of that New Year's resolution, multiple player games to get the whole family involved, and a set-up that's so user-friendly, you can park a 4-year-old in front of the TV and they'll figure it out (although I found my super energetic kid has a hard time with the sensitivity of the controllers -- she moves way too fast). There are so many games out there these days that you can cover every kid in the family with this console.

Parents who are especially cost-conscious might want to stick with this. The suggested retail price of the three-year-old system was reduced earlier this year to $149, although you'll also have to shell out for more Wii-motes and other accessories depending on your game preferences.

For the Trend Setter:

Xbox 360 with Kinect

Xbox 360 With Kinect

The Xbox itself has been out on the market for quite awhile, but the plethora of shoot-em-up games has kept this largely in the teen and adult market. Not anymore. The addition of the Kinect means gamemakers are slowly beginning to add games for the kids and the family unit. From the perspective of a "get the kids moving" console, friends who work in physical therapy noted this beats the Wii hands down as your body "is" the controller. I couldn't agree more. Put my kid in front of her two favorites -- Kinect Sports Two (thanks to a review copy sent to The Stir) or Kinectimals With Bears -- and she can actually work up a sweat because she has to do everything herself. And she can do the whole thing alone, from start to finish -- the definition of "family friendly."

A 360 packaged with a Kinect will set you back $300, although the Kinect itself is just $150. If you'll be using the console online, plan to add more money for an Xbox live membership to play against other gamers and/or access Netflix, Facebook, and more. An unlimited Gold membership costs $50 a year.

For the Family With Teens:

PS3 With Move

PlayStation 3 With Move

Another system popular with the older set, the Move component is an attempt to bridge the divide between teen/adult gamers and the whole family. Like the Wii, it's controller-based, which means the kids (and you) have a wand to hold onto to play. But unlike the Wii, this is gaming in high definition, and it shows. Now for the problem: this is a system that's still relatively new in the "little kid" market; so game choice is still pretty limited on the family-friendly end of things.

With Move, the system will cost about $350, although you may have to dish out $30 apiece for additional controllers (depending on family size). The Move by itself is around $150 for families who already have a PS3, and most online options (access to Netflix, playing your friends online, etc.) is free.

Are you going for a video game console this year? Why?

 

Images via Rebecca Pollard/Flickr; Amazon

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bills... billsfan1104

We already have the WII and my kids want the Kinect. BUt I do not want to pay 300 dollars for something my kids will play for a week, and not touch it for a couple of weeks, and then again for a week. And the kinect, only allows two players at a time right??

Chalon King

Billsfan...no you can play some games with 8 or more people!  I got a kinect for my birthday and love love love it.  I have played the playstation move and wii and they have nothing on the Kinect.  We had a three year old over to play the kinectanimals game and she was hooked.  She was so into it and also was using her imagination during the cut scenes.  We use our kinect about 3-4 times a week for games (they have a few FREE ones) and also playing movies or netflix....it is voice activated so you can tell it XBOX PAUSE and it will.  It also reconised spanish without switching any settings.  I did the fitness game and OMG it tells you if you are not doing pushups just right.  Nothing is more fun then a bottle of vodka and the dancing game.  I would highly rec the xbox and kinect to anyone!

bills... billsfan1104

TY Chalon very much. I am trying to think about getting it and getting some of the fitness games on it, so I can use it when I am not with my trainer.

Sidthe Sidthe

OMFG the X-Box Kinect is EPIC!!! My BF and I played it for 7 hours straight we were so sore at the end of it!! It's one hell of a workout and that's with the sports and games and the Just Dance(IDK for sure 1 of those dance games) One thing for any of them Wii Kinect move You need TONS of space because you gotta be able to move around!!

Lucre... LucretiaMcEvil

I'm out of shape. Do those dance and workout games for XBox360 Kinect really work?

Boobo... Boobookittt74

I just bought the wii for Hubby for Christmas. He already has a ps3 but I got him this one because it has alot of games me and the kids will probably like to play too.

cocob... cocobeannns

We have a PS3. I want to get the move for it.

LoriA... LoriAnn87

We have the Wii, Xbox and Playstation 3 in our house. We are thinking about getting the Kincet for our son because he loves to watch and tried to play the games but the controler are to big for his small hands.

LoriA... LoriAnn87

Walmart is having just the kinects for 99.96 On Thursday at 10. I may go and pick up one.

Freela Freela

My dh is a gamer, so we have multiple systems... we have both the Wii and the Kinect (dh also has a PS3, but we don't have the motion-detect system for it.)  My middle child (7) and younger child (almost 5) love the Kinectimals game!  However, the other Kinect games haven't gotten as much attention from them.  On the whole, the Wii gets the most use- it has Mario and Donkey Kong, two of the faves in our family!

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