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A Beginner's Guide to Buying a Portable Gaming Console

Playing video games with friends

The technology used in portable consoles is rapidly advancing to provide detailed, console-quality graphics and gameplay. Nintendo and Sony both deliver the latest graphics and handheld installments of familiar series from home consoles. These systems can connect to the internet via WiFi, so you can communicate with and compete against friends on the go. Compare your options for a portable console and find out which one is right for you.

Portable Gaming Console Features

Console-Quality Games

  • Portable graphics like never before - The graphical capabilities of current portable systems compare to recent-generation consoles like the PlayStation 3 or Nintendo Wii.
  • Enhanced controls - Control options include precision analog sticks and touch-screen features so games feel intuitive and responsive
  • Cross-platform capabilities - Versions of some games are available on each system, so you can move a saved file between the portable and home console versions of the same game and play any time.
Portable gaming systems with console-like games
Using your portable console as a remote

Networking Features

  • Wireless online connection - Connect to the internet via WiFi for multiplayer gaming, searching the web on a built-in browser or downloading new content from PlayStation Plus or other services.
  • Media streaming - Watch media from a variety of services using apps.
  • Connect with friends - Chat with friends using social networking and messaging features.
  • Remote play - Connect the PS Vita wirelessly to PlayStation 4 (PS4) to enjoy PS4 games on the Vita's screen and controls.

Types of Portable Gaming Consoles

Nintendo 3DS

The 3DS and the larger model 3DS XL are the standard versions of the latest generation of portable consoles from Nintendo.

  • Immersive sights and sounds - The 3DS' large screen and stereo speakers are the best way to see and hear 3DS games, compared to the smaller 2DS which only has one speaker.
  • 3D gaming experience - These systems feature glasses-free 3D displays that give immersive depth to the graphics in your games. 

Shop the Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo 3DS portable game console
Nintendo 2DS portable game console

Nintendo 2DS

The Nintendo 2DS is a new model of 3DS that removes the 3D display feature. All the same games run on 3DS and 2DS consoles, but the option to view games in 3-D has been removed.

  • Better for kids - Since it is already recommended by the manufacturer to restrict 3D viewing for younger children, the 2DS completely removes any worries you might have about setting parental controls or limiting their play time.
  • Sturdy construction - A one-piece design means there's no hinge to break due to falls and accidents.
  • More affordable - The 2DS has all of the other features of the 3DS and is available at a lower price, so this could be a smart alternative for those who can't use 3D or don't want the features.

Shop the Nintendo 2DS

Playstation Vita

The PS Vita, created by Playstation, has the highest technical specs of any current portable console.

  • Expansive title options - The Vita is able to play portable versions of some of the same games as the PlayStation 3, as well as a number of  new and exclusive titles.
  • Ideal for Playstation owners - The Vita can connect to the PS4, so you can play PS4 games remotely and enjoy them on the Vita's screen even when other family members are using the TV.
  • Top-notch portable graphics - The Vita features the closest graphics to home consoles, and the dual analog stick control setup is also similar to the PlayStation 3 and 4 controllers.

Shop the Playstation Vita

Playstation Vita portable game console
Nintendo Switch portable game console

Nintendo Switch

The Switch is Nintendo's latest gaming system that combines handheld capabilties with a home console experience.

  • 2-in-1 console - Play at home with friends or on the go with a convertible design that you can use as a handheld or on your home television.
  • Custom controls - Swap out different controller types used with different games for a more customizable gaming experience.
  • Double the fun - Since you don't have to buy games exclusively for each, the Switch is perfect for people who want to upgrade their home console in addition to a portable console.

Why Buy a Portable Gaming Console?

  • Game on the go - Play the latest games anywhere in the house, outside or wherever else you might go.
  • Enhanced graphics - Enjoy graphics that are comparable to recent home console games.
  • Social gaming - Connect and compete with friends using wireless features.
  • Enjoy more wireless media - Stream media from your favorite services while you commute or relax at home.
Why should you buy a portable gaming console

A Beginner's Guide to Buying a Portable Gaming Console