In the past, there’s only been a couple of choices when it comes to choosing a video-game system to be a gift. Not this year. Technology advances such as virtual reality and high dynamic range (HDR) have helped drive the demand for high-powered hardware.
PlayStation VR ($550)
The easiest way to get into virtual reality is with PlayStation, especially if you’ve already got a PlayStation 4 console. The price on this is a bit misleading, because for PSVR (above) to work, you also need a PlayStation Camera ($75) and, depending on the game you’re playing, you may also need PlayStation Move Controllers (two-pack for $130). But if you can afford the experience, there are some amazing things to discover in those virtual worlds.
Alienware 13 (starting at $1,500, $2,450 with OLED display)
If you want to get into the other virtual-reality systems from HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, there’s a good chance you’re going to need a new computer to support the headsets. The new Alienware 13 is powerful enough to drive those VR experiences but portable enough to cart about. One configuration ships with a stunning OLED touch display, and the Alienware 13 also works with the manufacturer’s graphics amplifier, so you can get even better performance out of the system when you’re at your desk.
MSI VR One (starting at $2,700)
From computer manufacturer MSI is this slick device, which is a full-on gaming laptop built into a backpack. The idea is to make the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift VR headsets—which have cables that need to be connected to computers to work—somewhat portable. It’s built with some extreme cooling measures and swappable battery packs, so you can just stay in that virtual environment forever.
Nintendo NES Classic Edition ($80)
This little console is quite the deal if you can find one in stock anywhere. A miniaturized replica of the original Nintendo NES, the Classic Edition comes equipped with 30 classic video games built right in, including favourites like Donkey Kong, the Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Super Mario Bros.
Retro-Bit Generations (US$60)
Similar to the NES Classic is this box that comes with more than 90 titles from publishers including Capcom and Jaleco, including games like 1942, Bionic Commando, Ghouls ’n Ghosts, Mercs, and Super R-Type.
Xbox One S ($400)
The newest console from Microsoft brings the ability to watch 4K video from either streaming or Blu-ray sources and supports stunning high-dynamic-range (HDR) images. Plus, it’s the only console on which you can play games like Vancouver-developed Gears of War 4.
PlayStation 4 Pro ($500)
Sony has released two consoles in as many months, and if you don’t already have one and you want one, and you’re considering PSVR, this is the console for you. While any PS4 supports PSVR, this high-powered machine can do so with ease. It’s also designed to deliver astounding visuals.
We’re all playing more games on our mobile devices than ever before. With the GameVice controller, you can make playing games on your iOS devices more like a console experience. You clip your iPhone or iPad into the GameVice and you get console control with analog sticks, a directional pad, buttons, and even bumpers.