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How to Select the Best Handheld Video Game System for the Kids

Updated on June 19, 2013
Game systems come in all shapes and sizes.
Game systems come in all shapes and sizes.

Console video games are a multiple billion dollar industry. Portable game systems carve a considerable chunk out of this figure. Choosing the best video game system for your family can be a challenge, but if you consider the differences between the primary systems and look at the new releases critically, you will find that your selection is quite easy.

The Nintendo 3DS XL boasts a flurry of features.
The Nintendo 3DS XL boasts a flurry of features.

Nintendo 3DS XL

The Nintendo 3DS replaced the Nintendo DS in the popular handheld lineup. This device boasts a resistive, dual-touch screen with the only true 3-D experience in a handheld device. It comes with a stylus, as is customary with the Nintendo product line. This device is unmatched among handheld devices in cartridge titles designed for the genre because it will play 3DS and DS titles. It can connect to Wi-Fi for game play and for Netflix and other streaming video services. It offers handy .3 mega-pixel 3D front and rear cameras and a gyroscope to enhance game play. rates this device as the best overall when ranking consoles in terms of physical features, capabilities, multimedia, and help and support.

The Vita has a crystal clear display.
The Vita has a crystal clear display.

Sony PlayStation Vita

CNet and PC Magazine rate the Sony PlayStation Vita even higher than the Nintendo 3DS in most categories. The Vita uses a large 5-inch OLED touch screen and rear touch panel along with dual pads and sticks. Front and rear cameras and a five- to six-hour 2,200 mAh battery are solid features. The 2GHz quad-core processor on the Vita gives it an edge on appearance even without the 3-D novelty. It allows for Wi-Fi or 3G connectivity and has streaming video options such as a Netflix application. It requires you purchase a memory card to play some games, adding to a cost significantly higher than the 3DS, which comes in just below $200.

The iPad has millions of gaming apps available in its store.
The iPad has millions of gaming apps available in its store.

IPad Mini

While the iPad Mini is not technically a gaming console, it was rated by Gizmag on multiple categories as equal or better than the Vita and 3DS. The large storage capacity of up to 64GB and the iTunes app store provides an enormous advantage in applications over any other device. Its graphics capability, despite having a dual-core 1GHz processor, offers 80 million polygons per second, nearly three times that of the Vita, giving it a graphics advantage. Its 10-hour battery far exceeds the competition, as does its 7.9-inch display. The device contains a 1.2-mega-pixel front camera and a 5-mega-pixel rear camera -- exceeding that of its handheld gaming competitors by a significant margin. While the iPad Mini is feature-rich, the price is more than double that of the 3DS and considerably higher than the Vita.

More gaming systems are on their way!
More gaming systems are on their way!

Other Contenders

At CES 2013, the Razer Edge gaming tablet was introduced and quickly picked up the CNet Best of Show and the People's Voice awards at the prestigious consumer electronics event. This device has the gaming power of a desktop computer -- an i5 or i7 Intel processor -- while maintaining the portability of a 10-inch tablet. The Razer Edge offers television connectivity and has a keyboard and mouse or a dual-controller case for portable game play. Razer Edge releases in Q1 of 2013 with prices of $999 and up, depending on the features you choose. Also releasing in 2013 is the nVidia Project Shield who won the IGN Best Gaming Device after CES 2013. The Project Shield is a handheld system with an attached 5-inch screen and boasts a fast Tegra 4 mobile processor. Shaped like an XBox controller with a touch screen, these devices utilize the Android platform for game downloads.


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    • Mark Applegate profile image

      Mark Applegate 4 years ago from Tornado Alley Missouri

      While I understand your loyalty, the DS is a dying beast. Give it 3 or 4 quarters and the 3DS will have kicked it to the curb....until the next one comes always. IPads are not great for little kids, but the 10-16 crowd can use them all they want. My son's Elem. school lets them all use them in class.

    • Dreamhowl profile image

      Jessica Marello 5 years ago from United States

      I agree - the Nintendo DS is just better for kids. They can play fun games on it and it's just sturdier. I don't think small children should have iPads unless you have the money to replace them or the Apple insurance.

    • dailytop10 profile image

      dailytop10 5 years ago from Davao City

      In my perspective, Ipad mini is too fragile for kids. A Nintendo DS is much better as it won't break easily even after a hard fall. I have one and it has been my buddy for almost a year. I'm not good at taking care of my stuffs yet my Nintendo DS never failed to deliver countless hours of fun.