What Was Your Favourite Console To Use?

Image: Kotaku / Alex Walker

Earlier this week Mark wrote up his thoughts on the Xbox One X, and the UI in particular. And that got me thinking: what console has had the best user experience - hardware aside - of all time?

A console's UI is obviously more important these days than, say, two decades ago. Hell, most consoles didn't really have much of a menu: you popped in a cartridge, and went from there. But with digital distribution, consoles' capacity as media centres, and other storage functions in general, the usability of a console OS has become more important.

Something that I was oddly always partial to was the Xbox 360 dashboard. It was a bit too ... large? But it was fairly straightforward, it was easy to find all the things you needed, and it was a relatively snappy experience.

For the record, I preferred the old 360 dashboard. Wasn't a fan of the new one at all.

Of late, the Switch experience has been pretty good. It's partially helped by the fact that there's a lot less data and inventory for the Switch to manage. There's no Netflix app. No separate area for movies or music. Not much required for online management. And let's not talk about the friend features. (Why, friend codes.)

But what about yourselves? As for the day to day experience, what consoles have you enjoyed living with the most?


    Why, the Vita of course. It has bubbles :-)

      The only thing holding back Vita software was it’s inability to have two (or multiple) users. I have multiple accounts (cue my usual whinge about being able to change my PSN name) which would have been nice to use - otherwise a delightful little OS.

    Playstation 2; it was obviously very simple design, but the mixture of visuals and sound are still great to this day

      Best UI I ever used was on a hacked PS2 that basically functioned like an emulator menu.

      It was the most perfect design ever. Clean, simple menus, intuitively located, with minimal nesting.

      Trust a mod-chip to do it better than anyone else.

    Dreamcast - Simply the best console to hit the market, albeit slightly too late.

      Oh man......4 player Quake sessions all damn night.

      And don't get me started on Virtual Tennis or Soul Calibre etc.

        Powerstone, man i spent sooooo many hours smashing it at wang fang

    I don't really think you can beat the simplicity of the old cartridge-based consoles. Just put the game in, turn it on, and you're off. No navigating menus, no waiting for updates to download, just start playing.

      *turn it on, turn it off, eject the cartridge, blow in it, put it back in, turn it on and you're off

    N64. Put the game in, it came on. No load times.

    I'm actually a fan of the 3DS interface. Grid of arrangable icons with folders, themes with different music, images and animations, and I actually liked arranging scenes with badges.
    But that's just home screen. The rest of the UI was a bit... meh.

      Yeah, navigating store + settings and having it shut everything down to treat the settings menu like a separate application was my least favourite thing about the 3DS UI.

        Yeah that aspect sucks.

        There's also places in the UI where if a certain thing is selected the home button ceases to work. Move the selection across and the Home button begins to function again. Happens in the store and it's very annoying.

    Vita. Sits in the hands fairly nicely, good functionality, good interface, no fluff or advertising or any crap getting in the way, buttons are well-placed and responsive and it strikes a good balance between portability and size. Did have some issues with the sticks being a bit small and having too much dead zone but nothing is perfect.

    Switch is pretty up there though it's compromised a bit in the feel & positioning of the buttons & sticks by the dumb joycon gimmick. At least it has some thought put into the ergonomics and isn't just an uncomfortable rectangular slab like the DS/3DS, though.

    Xbox 360 with the Blades interface probably had the best combination of operating system functionality and controller hardware. Blades had a little bit of clunk but at least it wasn't built around having huge areas of the screen devoted to advertising. Xbone and PS4 are both a step backward from the systems they replaced in terms of how the OS feels, but a step forward for the controllers.

    I'm loving the PS4 interface, very easy to navigate and I find it quite clean. The games you've played recently are up front with games you haven't played in a while tucked away in the library. Can't say I've ever been lost trying to find anything or wished for anything different.

    Then again, it's hard to beat the old cartridge consoles, no fuss, just insert the game and play.

    I'm loving the Switch actually. There are times when I just want to resume my game and get right into playing, but it's good to have a quick, clean and simple UI behind it when I need to do stuff.

    The PS4 UI I feel is a step beyond this, mainly because it has to do a bit more.

    As for the Xbone's UI - I hate it more than Anakin Skywalker hates sand. I did like the first couple of UIs for the 360 though, before they became riddled with ads.

    The Wii-U by far. Super clear, menu is in your hands, touch screen and no confusion and super snappy.

    Either that or my Atari, put the cartridge in, press the button and play the game, instantly.

    I agree that the Switch is right up there. It'll be interesting to see how it evolves with time as the horizontal game list probably won't scale well over time, but for now it's nice. They could easily go to a vertical grid though and it'd retain a similar function while being able to display more apps.

    It's not just the layout that I love but also the speed. When other consoles have an update I go do something else for 10 minutes. The Switch? Updates are lucky to take more than a minute. That whole speeds translated all through the UI and while it's basic, it's still covering the essentials I carer about. One thing I'd love that isn't there and isn't necessarily a UI thing but more a services function, is some form of achievements.

    If the Switch design has any major flaws it's the outsourcing of communication functions to mobile apps and the lack of support for bluetooth headsets.

    I also have an Xbox One and thats a confused mess of a UI. The whole needing to PIN things to get them to stay on the home screen is a terrible decision and while I'm not sure what the limit is after the most recent update, hitting the maximum number of pinned apps has beena common occurrence for me. Having to dig into sub menus to find non pinned but installed apps is rather terrible too and I hate how returning home has become a two step process rather than a one click process over the past two updates.

    Xbox 360 despite getting too much advertising over time, was a far better UI IMHO, although I didn't really like the blade UI used for the first 18 months or so.

    the Switch UI is good, but yes it doesn't haven't to do much and I'd say rips off the PS4 UI quite a bit.

    The XBOX 360 original 'blade' UI was the best, it was quite shocking Microsoft killed it and replaced it with one overloaded with ads.

    I liked the 360 NXE before they went with the squares though the 360 that exists now is quite good.

    My wife and kids though find the Xbone easier to navigate though and we do use that console almost as much as the TV it's on.

    Excluding the turn-on and play classic consoles, I always liked the PS3 interface. Was pretty intuitive in where to find things. XBox 360 had some good interfaces and some real lemons, I couldn't state which ones were good as the last iteration I saw soured me to the whole thing (the W8/10 inspired one). I remember one or two iterations with your avatar visible on the front screen that were nice however.

    I felt like the PS3 interface was really nice. Clean, easy to understand. By contrast, the PS4 UI is a bit of a mess. Seemed like a big step backwards in intuitive design on launch, and it hasn't got any better since.

    I haven't owned many consoles, but the Gameboy Advance just felt right in the hand and the general layout for inputs / outputs was great.

    For me it would be the PS3.

    Beatiful and (mostly) easy to navigate menus, it was also the first console i actually bothered to use as for some of my media as well as opposed to every XBOX bar the original being a Netflix machine =)

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