I am a long time XBOX 360 nuthugger. I've participated in the ongoing arguments since the day the PS3 was released. I bought a Playstation 3 several months ago (something I hadn't planned on doing at the time) after reading the stellar reviews for Metal Gear Solid 4.
Now that I've played both, I'm going to give as honest a review as I possibly can.
I've owned both an XBOX 360 Premium and I now have an Elite. I purchased my Premium for just over $400 back in March of 2006. It RROD'd me about a month before Christmas 2007. My elite cost me a bit over $450, packaged with both Forza and Marvel Ultimate Alliance- holiday deal- Marvel sucks, spent about 20 minutes with it and never played it again. The elite that I have now- not HDDVD capable without an add-on, but HDMI cable included. Separate rechargable packs for the controller(s) were required to get away from using millions of batteries, and separate plug and play kits were required for that to keep them charged. Both consoles came with one wireless controller.
My PS3 is the 40gb model. Cost me just over $425 with both a Sixaxis and a Dual Shock 3. No HDMI cable included- which sucks. No headset included- also sucks. However, benefits right away are that the controllers require no separate rechargable packs- the battery packs are inside the controllers themselves- and they plug directly into the console via a USB cable and recharge that way. Much more convenient, less clutter, cheaper on the wallet. BIGGEST drawback with the PS3 40gb- no backwards compatability with the Playstation 2. This is a huge drawback for me, since I was an avid PS2 player. I still have my PS2 set up right next to my XBOX 360, so it won't affect me much, but it would have been nice to pack the good old PS2 away and clean up my entertainment center a bit. The lack of PS2 backwards compatability sucks, period.
Moneywise- When compared in total, I spent almost exactly the same amount on the PS3 as I did the XBOX 360. Both had benefits and drawbacks as far as what they came packaged with and what they lacked. I'd call the price totally even FOR ME PERSONALLY due to my personal preferences- since I wanted wireless controllers with both consoles and had to buy a bunch of crap for the 360 to make that work out. More on the prices and how they compare at the end.
Taking the PS3 out of the box- it looks much better and overall just feels like a more quality console than the XBOX 360. It's taller, a bit heavier, but everything feels tighter and more solid. The glossy finish also looks MUCH better than the flat black of the Elite, and better than the white of the Premium (I prefer the white 360s, personally). The look and feel of the console, however, is miles ahead of the 360 in terms of quality- which is to be expected considering the price of the console when it released.
First- controllers. The dual shock 3 is a good controller. It's showing its age a bit, but the revamped triggers from the dual shock 2 are a nice touch. Still, they come nowhere near the complete control and comfort of the 360 controllers. The 360 controllers are heavier in the hand, but not at all in a bad way. The control sticks are more comfortable, the buttons are better rounded, the bumpers and triggers are both easier to grasp and use than the dual shock 3. There's no contest at all here, the 360's controller blows the dual shock 3 out of the water.
Next, the main layout of each system. What you see when you start it up. The desktop of the XBOX 360 isn't poorly laid out, but it's thick with advertisements, and windows are often very slow to pop up. That was something I hated about the 360 even before I got my PS3- navigating through your friends, messages, etc just feels super sluggish and is generally a pain in the ass to do.
The PS3 is the complete opposite. Everything moves extremely quick, and the menus flow seemlessly through each other. It's very easy to navigate, a pleasure to use, and you can get things done very quickly with it. I had more of a grasp over how to use the PS3's menus in 2 hours than I did the XBOX 360's in 2 months.
The PS3's in-game pause menu, by hitting the PS middle button, is so compact and brief. This may sound like a bad thing. But it's not at all. It's incredibly easy to use, clean looking, functional. The XBOX 360's in-game pause menu looks cluttered, and is massively slow to react in comparison. The benefit is that the 360's menu has far more capabilities as far as messaging, friends, and playing music. It's give and take, but I prefer the clean functionality of the PS3. This area, however, really depends on your preference. I prefer single player games far more than multiplayer, so you guys that love the multiplayer will most likely prefer the XBOX's menu since you can access all of your multiplayer stuff from there and join games directly from there no matter where you are in your single player game.
Graphics, so far, have been completely negligible and even. I really have trouble noticing any difference between games available for both systems. The PS3 is supposedly the more powerful console, but it just isn't justifiable through looking at the games. The XBOX 360 matches it tit for tat as far as graphical muscle.
HD movie capability- obviously time has shown us that the PS3 wins here. The Blu ray is the successful format. However, even prior to that, the PS3 had the built in blu ray while users of the 360 had to buy a separate HD-DVD player for $200. I did this back a couple of years when it first came out, and it really kicks my ass that I have a $200 paper weight sitting on my entertainment center that I couldn't sell for $30 right now. So the PS3 obviously destroys the 360 in this aspect.
Multiplayer- This one is also give and take. The PS3's online is free. I pay about $50 per year for XBOX live. As to be expected, there are more players and more games available on live. The level of skill is also higher. That's where the price comes from. Live also sells tons HD movies (their counter to the Blu ray's success), and other items. Live is a more complete marketplace with better online gameplay than PSN, but PSN is free. I rule this one totally even for me personally, since I prefer single player experiences much more than multiplayer experiences with video games.
Now, to the meat of the review- the games. This one is clear before ever touching either console. The XBOX360 has the benefit of an entire year of game development, but this has given it the overwhelming advantage in exclusive blockbuster titles such as Gears of War, Halo 3, Bioshock, Mass Effect, Forza, and more. The PS3 is just starting to come around with titles like Metal Gear Solid 4. This really isn't a question at this point- the 360 wins hands down on the strength of more console exclusive titles. However, if the PS3 can put out even two more games of the quality of MGS4- such as GT5, Final Fantasy XIII, or God of War 3- it will be right there. I'm serious... MGS4 is the type of game that sell the console by itself- it did for me. The game is absolutely fabulous, revolutionary, and a must-have. Metal Gear Solid 4, in my mind, is the single best game to be released so far this entire generation of console video games. Better than GTA4, better than COD4. It is everything that it's hyped up to be, and more. If you have a PS3 and haven't yet bought the game, shame on you. As far as MGS4 carrying the console, the original XBOX had the same type of game come around for it back when the original Halo: Combat Evolved hit the shelves along with the console.
However, at this point in time, the 360 has the obvious advantage in the game market. And that's what matters most for game consoles- the games. You buy a game console to play games- and you will get the better gaming experience with the XBOX 360.
The PS3 has the better fit and finish, better HD movie support, better menu design, and for me it cost almost exactly the same that the XBOX 360 Elite did (give or take about $20). When I consider everything, I believe the PS3 has everything it needs to win this generation of consoles- EXCEPT GAMES. Like I said before- you buy a game console to play games. That's the point of the console itself. And the XBOX 360 has the better games to play, and the better controller to play it with.
As a true gamer, I still prefer my XBOX 360. However, I wouldn't be upset to see the PS3 succeed. It's a far better designed console and the quality is far higher. It really just feels good to play games on, it's something you really have to experience personally in order to understand. I never understood what people saw in the PS3 until I actually hooked it up and played a game on the console. And this is coming from a longtime XBOX 360 worshipper. The PS3 is just a joy to use- it feels so smooth while navigating that the XBOX 360 makes it feel like a chore to do anything when compared to the PS3. But all of the experience up to playing the game doesn't make up for playing the games themselves- and the XBOX 360 just has more stellar titles than the PS3 does. Which not only means more gaming, but better gaming on the whole.
And when you consider it, the gaming for the 360 is available for far cheaper if you budget yourself.
The conclusion I came to- I still prefer my XBOX 360 for that reason. I am a gamer at heart, and the overall prettiness of the PS3 won't change that- neither will HD movies.