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Best Video Game Consoles For Kids
We've got the scoop on the best gaming systems (including the brand-new Xbox Kinect and Playstation Move) so you can give kids what they really want this holiday season. Plus, learn the violent video games you should avoid.
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Nintendo added another portable gaming console to its arsenal earlier this year with the 3DS. No need for the blue and red 3D glasses here, the graphics speak for themselves. The 3DS features a clamshell design, like other models, with a touchscreen pad on the bottom and high-res screen up top. Bringing 3D graphics to the screen will make kids even more excited about gaming, if that’s even possible.
$171.53, Nintendo 3DS - Cosmo Black
Apple's iPad 2 is clearly much more than a gaming system, but it’s certainly a device that everyone in the family will want to get their hands on. The huge handheld display can be the gateway to a fun family-game session during a tedious layover, or a magical way to spend a car ride (playing Lego Harry Potter). Plus, the updated processing speed makes the games and apps pop up even faster for instant gaming enjoyment.
Worried about the kids sitting around all day playing video games? The Wii comes with tons of fun motion-control games that'll get them moving. One favorite is Wii Music, which will turn your kids into a virtual band, complete with funky instruments and original tunes -- and, if you're lucky, they'll let mom and dad jam out too. If you can drag them away from the screen, hook up Wii Fit Plus ($99.99 with Balance Board) so you can sneak in a quick yoga or aerobics workout.
Sony Playstation 3
Kids will get lost in the insanely crisp and elaborately detailed imagery in PS3's all high-definition game lineup. And when game time is over, the whole family can experience HD-magic -- the console doubles as the ultimate entertainment center, letting you play music, view photos, and watch regular and Blu-Ray DVDs.
Sony Playstation 3 With Move
"Move" takes Playstation's hi-def fun to the next level, combining a motion-capture video camera (similar to XBox Kinect) with a motion-sensitive wand (like Wii's). Unlike the Wii controller, however, the wand uses the Earth's magnetic field to make player motions more accurate than ever. This system has tons of kid-friendly games, including Tumble, a block-stacking game even the youngest can play. And for allergy-prone kids, there's EyePet, where they can groom, clean and even "touch" a virtual pet -- without the real-world clean up.
$99 Move alone, amazon.com
Microsoft Xbox 360
Xbox has amassed a huge selection of kid-friendly games and, once they've been conquered, Xbox Live keeps the fun going by letting kids play head-to-head with online friends. With the Gold Family Membership ($99.99) you can regulate their virtual playdates, watch movies straight from your Netflix queue, or give Dad one of the extra member slots to squeeze in a round of competitive Halo.
Microsoft Xbox 360 With Kinect
Kinect works without a controller, so kids can play games using their entire bodies -- dodging falling rocks, outrunning enemies, and zooming around on hoverboards. The platform uses a camera and microphone system, as well as each child's face, to recognize movement and launch the player's custom gameplay avatar. Parents will love that there are no excuses for being late to dinner: Kinect recognizes when individual players leave the room and automatically pauses the game.
$296.99 Xbox 360 (4GB) with Kinect, amazon.com
$150 Kinect alone, dell.com
Perfect for long car rides, the DSi is a colorful handheld device with two bright screens and an interactive stylus pen--and play doesn't stop when the games are turned off. With its built-in front and back cameras, kids (and adults) will have tons of fun staging impromptu photo shoots, complete with special glamour and "mischief" effects including mustaches, hats, and color-changing personal doodles.
Nintendo DSi XL
Your kids won't have to fight over the handheld DSi XL. Its two screens have been enlarged with improved side-angle viewing and clearer sound, so it's easier for everyone to feel like part of the action, while waiting for their turn to play. You might even want take a turn yourself to play mind-sharpening games like "Brain Age Express: Arts and Letters," featuring quick word and picture challenges.
Sony PSP Go
Do you remember your old Sony Walkman? The Sony PSP Go is similar to the Walkman, updated for the 21st century: besides music, it can play videos and store at least 10 high-resolution games at a time on its 16GB internal memory. You can even download a free app online to add your music as a game's rockin' soundtrack. The device is also incredibly compact -- it's small enough to slip inside a jean pocket, so kids will remember where they put it.
Sony PSP 3000
The PSP 3000's Wi-Fi lets kids connect on the go. They can play with online friends in multiplayer game mode, or talk it out with friends and relatives using the unit's built-in microphone and Skype program. And when the compact screen feels too small, you can connect the handheld controller right into the TV, and still be enthralled by the high-tech graphics.
Apple's iPad may be an unlikely gaming system, but it might just be the one the whole family wants. The huge handheld display can be the gateway to a fun family-game session during a tedious layover, or a magical way to spend a car ride (playing Lego Harry Potter). Plus, the big colorful screen can also be the spoonful of sugar that gets kids hooked on one of the many learning games and educational programs, like RedFish, a digital playroom kids explore through pictures and music.
OnLive lets you skip buying an expensive console altogether. The website, onlive.com, lets you buy or rent games online and provides the processing power needed to run them at full-speed on any computer. Kids can try out game demos for free and choose their favorites before you go all-in to buy them. The handy 3-5 day game passes ($4.99-6.99) make great special rewards, and are a fun way to test out the entire selection.
Free service; games for rent (3-5 day $4.99-6.99) and purchase ($5-50), onlive.com