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  • Nintendo Switch OLED

  • Microsoft Xbox Series S

  • Nintendo Switch Lite

  • Sony PlayStation 4 - 1TB Slim Edition

  • Microsoft Xbox One X

Product image of Nintendo Switch OLED
Nintendo Switch OLED

Nintendo’s flagship console got some recent quality-of-life upgrades with the arrival of the Switch OLED Model. Available in a stylish new white-and-black design and red-and-blue “neon” version, it offers a seven-inch OLED screen in handheld mode, along with 64 GB of storage—double that of the original Nintendo Switch. The catalog of games is superb, ranging from the 2017 Legend of Zelda to this year’s near-perfect Super Mario 3D World remaster.

Another big selling point for the hardware continues to be its playful versatility: You can play it on the go as a handheld by taking it off the dock. You can play it on your television with a controller; you can share one of your Joy-Con with a friend and enjoy hassle-free “couch co-op” in games like Mario Kart and so on. You can also use the built-in stand to prop it up for use as a shared screen when you’re playing multiplayer away from your TV.

Every Switch available right now is at risk of developing the same “Joy-Con drift” problem, caused by a defective thumbstick design, but Nintendo has promised free repairs for Joy-Con controllers that stop working properly. Having a Joy-Con fail certainly isn’t ideal, but it’s a risk worth taking for a console with exclusives like Super Mario Maker 2, Pokémon Sword and Shield, and Breath of the Wild.

Pros

  • Incredible games catalog

  • Playful, ingenious design

  • 7-inch handheld screen

Cons

  • Thumbstick drift is common

  • Lacks 4K output

Product image of Microsoft Xbox Series S
Microsoft Xbox Series S

If you’re looking to maximize your options—next-gen games, every generation of the Xbox catalog, 4K video playback, and all the streaming apps you can handle—the Xbox Series S is an unbeatable value. Paired with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription (and games like Forza Horizon 5), the Series S will provide high-performance gameplay and entertainment for years to come.

All your favorite video and music apps are here, along with thousands of games, and the next era of first-party Xbox titles is only just beginning. This is a great way to enjoy favorites like Call of Duty: Warzone, Fortnite, GTA Online, and Minecraft.

Pros

  • 4K upscaling and video playback

  • Four generations of Xbox games

  • Compatible with next-gen titles

Cons

  • Doesn’t output in native 4K

Product image of Nintendo Switch Lite
Nintendo Switch Lite

If you don’t need all the features of the OLED Model, you’ve got another great option. Priced at $199 or less, the Nintendo Switch Lite is an elegant, all-in-one solution to the problem of wanting to play the latest Animal Crossing or indie-game sensation and not having a Switch. It’s a gorgeous, sturdily-made system that plays almost any game—the exception being that you can’t remove the controllers from the handheld configuration, so motion controls and other features are somewhat limited.

Otherwise, the other main compromises you’ll find are its somewhat smaller screen and lack of TV (“docked”) mode. And its battery may not hold up quite as long as the larger, standard OLED Switch. It’s available in a fun array of colors: turquoise, yellow, coral pink, indigo blue, gray. You’ll find yourself wanting to play this all the time, wherever you go, and it offers the same 32 GB of storage as the original Switch, expandable with any standard microSD card.

Pros

  • Incredible games catalog

  • Simple all-in-one design

Cons

  • Thumbstick drift is common

  • Pretty small screen

Related content

Product image of Sony PlayStation 4 - 1TB Slim Edition
Sony PlayStation 4 - 1TB Slim Edition

Though not as future-proof as the Xbox Series S or the impossible-to-get PlayStation 5, the PS4 has one of the most diverse and robust game libraries in the history of the medium. From Journey and Night in the Woods to Final Fantasy VII Remake and Spider-Man, you’ll never run out of great games to play on a PS4. It plays Blu-rays, music, and has a ton of great third-party app support. The DualShock 4 controller is one of the most comfortable I’ve ever used. And it offers a great user experience across the board; the sights and sounds of the interface are lovely and soothing, and that alone makes you want to spend more time with it.

The drawback, of course, is that some PS5-exclusive title may come along down the road, you’ll want to check it out, and the PS4 won’t be able to run it. That’s the issue with any traditional console. But if you and your family are new to gaming, a PS4 will more than satisfy you.

Pros

  • Incredible games catalog

  • Great user experience

Cons

  • Lacks 4K output

Product image of Microsoft Xbox One X
Microsoft Xbox One X

If you can’t get your hands on a Series X or Series S, the previous generation’s souped-up Xbox One X console is the next best thing. With 4K output, UHD Blu-ray playback, rich HDR10 visuals, Dolby Vision support, and a massive library of incredible games, there’s little reason not to own one of these. It lacks the forward compatibility of the Series S and PS5, of course, but if you just want to get your loved one (or yourself) a great game console, the One X is a perfect alternative to the Nintendo Switch, which tends to cater to a more young-at-heart audience.

Games like Destiny 2 and Warzone, for example, run just fine on this hardware. And it makes a great home for Disney+, HBO Max, Netflix, and all your other go-to streaming apps.

Pros

  • Three generations of Xbox games

  • HDR10 and Dolby Vision support

  • 4K output and video playback

Cons

  • Won’t run next-gen exclusives

Meet the tester

Alex Kane

Alex Kane

Editor, Search & Updates

@alexjkane

Alex Kane is an editor at USA Today’s Reviewed.

See all of Alex Kane's reviews

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