The next generation of video game consoles is nearly upon us, with Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One prepared to lock horns this holiday season in a battle for supremacy of not only your gaming experiences, but your living room entertainment, too.

While the modern gamer (the average age is 30) can take control of characters in multimillion-dollar blockbusters that combine stunning visuals with cinematic narratives, these machines also stream music, access such services as Netflix and Hulu and play sports. The new PS4 ($399) and Xbox One ($499) plan to build on this one-stop media machine concept using cloud computing to integrate with other media. So which console is better? While both have beefed-up hardware and laundry lists of futuristic features, your choice may rest on how they shine in different key areas.

PLaystation 4 controller.

For the PS4, the clear-cut difference is a friendlier price tag and an emphasis on appealing to true game geeks. Features include an updated Dualshock 4 controller with a touchpad and dedicated Share button to record gameplay moments and post the video to social media. Sony also plans to stream its entire library of games (with many receiving high-definition makeovers) released for PlayStation 1, 2 and 3 through the PS4 (users needn’t save them to its built-in hard drive). PS4 owners will also be able to use their handheld PlayStation Vita ($199, sold separately) to play their games remotely, even without television access.

Xbox One added bells and whistles to its controller and processor and is leaning on a lot of console-exclusive franchises to carry the gaming weight. Where Microsoft shines is home integration. The Xbox One not only offers social media, home theater and gaming experiences, it integrates all your other electronics into one easy navigation feature. Want to control your cable by voice? Slave your cable box to the Xbox and use the Kinect voice sensor to switch seamlessly between the two. HDMI-in ports and a two-way IR sensor allow you to switch between and even control your TV DVD, cable and Apple TV, as well as other game consoles, without ever touching a remote, which means the Xbox One becomes the hub for home entertainment, not just a crown jewel.

A more detailed review of the two systems can be found at