It was a casual aside: a colleague mentioned, with some regret, that Apple doesn't make a games console. It led to a debate: just what is a games console? Ultimately it is nothing more than a personal computer that is locked to one platform, with the intention of playing games. By that rationale Apple has many games consoles, or at least devices on which you can play games. They just offer other functionalities. To be fair, of course, so does the Xbox One with which we compare the iPad here.
It may appear an odd comparison but we hope that it will seem less so as we go on. The aim is to provide advice to anyone considering purchasing an Xbox One or an iPad, so we'll focus mainly on the iPad Air, with reference to the iPad mini 2 with Retina Display, as they are the new iPads on sale now. But the advice is generally applicable to all iPads.
And yes, we love any excuse to pit Microsoft against Apple. We're old school in that respect.
iPad vs Xbox One for games: general points, price
First things first, a new iPad will set you back at least £399 for the iPad Air, or £319 for the iPad mini with Retina Display. The Xbox One costs £429. But before you start thinking the iPad is a cost-saving option, it is only fair to point out that £399 gets you the basic iPad with only 16GB of storage, and the other eight models range from £479 up to £739. In most cases the iPad Air will cost more than the Xbox One (although it can cost less. This is confusing).
Let's move on to safer ground: the iPad offers some capability that the Xbox One doesn't, albeit outside the area of gaming on which this article focuses. You won't be editing documents on your Xbox One, but you can on the iPad. But the Xbox One is something of a complete living room, set-top box, offering web browsing, TV streaming and communications. The iPad can of course do all of this. Both allow the installation of apps, of course, but there are many more apps for your iPad than there are for the Xbox One. And the iPad offers greater portability - try to take your Xbox One on the train with you for a gaming session. And although half the iPad models don't offer cellular connectivity, no Xbox does.
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