Today’s consumer is no longer simply buying a “video game console,” as both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 have become home entertainment and media hubs. But which will give you a better value for your hard earned cash?  For our purposes we will be using the price and features of the latest modules, the Xbox 360 250 GB console and the Playstation 3 160GB Slim console.  On average you’re looking at $299.99 each for a new module on most websites and in most stores.

First things first: the games. The Xbox 360 includes more ‘shooter’ games, such as Halo: Reach and Gears of War 3. Xbox also has a more full featured and secure online experience, although there is a cost: $70 a year for an Xbox Live Gold subscription.  With that subscription, users gain the ability to play multiplayer games, Netflix and Hulu Plus accounts can be streamed through the console, and movies can be downloaded and watched from the Zune Market Place.

By comparison the Playstation 3 has more experimental titles, ones which don’t fit the mold of modern video game genres.  Games such as MAG and Heavy Rain are Playstation exclusives, along with the upcoming Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception.  Although the Playstation Network is not as robust or secure, it is free, and, as with the Xbox you can stream Netflix and Hulu Plus through it.  But the Playstation 3 has some things the Xbox 360 doesn’t, a Blu-ray player built in, and the ability to open a full web browser on your console.  Not to mention the consoles ability to communicate with the soon to be released Playstation Vita handheld.

The Xbox 360’s Kinect peripheral is a motion tracking camera which is targeted at younger and more casual gamers (MSRP $149.99).  This adds hands free motion tracking and a slew of family friendly games.  The Playstation Move is also a motion controller but it requires the consumer to purchase a controller set (MSRP $79.99) and a Playstation Eye (MSRP $39.99).  This add on features support for shooters such as Resistance 3 and Killzone 3, something not featured on the Xbox 360.

Lastly is the future. At some point new consoles will be released by Microsoft and Sony, but they are at least two years out. Windows will have a live streaming TV service for use with an Xbox starting this fall. Playstation 3 has Vudu, a video rental service similar to iTunes’ rentals, and streaming music. Both systems are expected to be viable for years to come.