A specialized desktop computer used to play video games. The two most popular consoles are Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox. Nintendo's Wii was also a contender that simulated physical participation in activities such as bowling and playing tennis (see Wii
). Almost all video game consoles are manufactured in Asia.
Most game software is available via download. In the past, CDs and DVDs were the source, and the earliest game machines used cartridges containing read only memory (ROM) chips. Video game consoles require a TV or monitor for display.
Video game consoles are typically powered by operating systems and CPUs that differ from desktop computers. The consoles are under the control of their respective manufacturers, and the software is geared to the machine's capabilities. Games are not generally interchangeable with other game consoles or desktop computers, although software publishers may develop games for more than one platform.
Handheld video games are miniature versions of game consoles and less elaborate. They are entirely portable, self-contained, battery-operated devices with their own screens. Examples are the PlayStation Portable, Nintendo GameBoy and earlier Sega GameGear and Atari Lynx machines. See gaming
, video game
, video game controller
, wireless game adapter
, Nintendo DS
PlayStation 3 Console
Sony's first PlayStation came out in 1995 and garnered a huge fan club over the years. The PlayStation 3 (PS3) is the third generation of the line and the first game console to include a Blu-ray drive. (Image courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment.)
Xbox 360 Console
With the Xbox introduction in 2001, Microsoft entered the video game console market. Four years later, it dramatically increased the Xbox's power with the 360. (Image courtesy of Microsoft Corporation.)
In 2005, a decade after introducing the PlayStation game console, Sony came out with its first handheld model, the PlayStation Portable (PSP). The PSP also plays music and videos and displays photos. (Image courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment.)