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What to know before you buy a new Xbox or PlayStation this holiday season

There are still plenty of good deals on Xbox and PlayStation consoles this holiday, but be mindful of the coming console refresh, including the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5.

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The Xbox One S is on sale this Black Friday, but a new version is coming soon. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 game consoles have been seeing hefty discounts this holiday season, with starting prices as low as $150 for a bundle that includes a new console and some games. That's similar to previous year-end deals, but there's a difference this time. A new generation of consoles is right around the corner, coming in 2020, so you may want to pause before taking the plunge. 

Read more: Best Black Friday deals 2019: Xbox, Switch and PS4 discounts

Both Microsoft and Sony have announced plans to release their next-generation consoles next year, including the system originally known as Project Scarlett, now Xbox Series X, and Sony's PlayStation 5. The systems will each be significantly more powerful than the current generation of consoles, which date back to 2013. While new games will still be available for the current Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for at least the next couple of years, the end of their status as current-generation hardware is nigh.

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The Xbox One S All-Digital is virtually identical to the Xbox One S, except it drops the physical disc drive.  

Sarah Tew/CNET

Microsoft has even acknowledged the issue. The company introduced an updated Xbox All Access lease-to-own service in October that starts at $20 per month for 24 months and includes an Xbox One S All-Digital console (the Xbox One that lacks a disc-drive), 24-months of Games Pass Ultimate -- which includes over 100 games you can download plus Xbox Live Gold, the latter of which is required for playing multiplayer games online -- and the ability to upgrade to the next generation console, aka Xbox Series X, after 18 months.

A $31-per-month (for 24 months) option is available that includes the more powerful Xbox One X and the ability to upgrade to the next system after 12 months. Financing for All Access will require a soft credit check from Citizens One (it should not impact your credit score), though the program itself can be purchased through Amazon

An option is also available for the regular Xbox One S, but as that console is nearly identical to the One S All-Digital (with the exception of adding a disc drive) we're going to focus this piece on the One S All-Digital, Microsoft's cheapest console, and the One X, the company's most powerful. 

Regardless of the system that you finance, you will own the Xbox after you pay off the total commitment. If you want to upgrade before your upgrade period hits you can make a lump sum payment to fill in the remaining months before you'd be eligible for an upgrade, though you won't be able to do this until the Series X is available. Upgrading will require you to trade-in the Xbox One, controller and power cord to Microsoft in "good condition." 

Assuming it is and you've paid off what was required your current leasing will end and you'll be enrolled in a new All Access plan for the Series X, which will include a new Game Pass Ultimate subscription with the old one being removed from your account. Pricing for the Series X or its All Access plan has not yet been announced. 

Sony does not currently offer any upgrade or leasing program for the PlayStation 4 to the PlayStation 5.

Is Xbox All Access worth it?

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Microsoft's Xbox Series X arrives next year. 

Microsoft

Over an 18-month period, which is how long you'll have to own pay for the system before you can upgrade, the Xbox One S All-Digital on All Access will run $380 total since an upgrade to the new next-gen system will trigger a $20 "upgrade fee."

Given that Xbox Live is usually around $60 for a year, and an Xbox One S All-Digital bundle is currently around $179 at Walmart and includes three games, the price of buying an Xbox One outright would be $274 after factoring in Xbox Live Gold and the same 18-month time period. (Microsoft sells Xbox Live subscriptions in 1-month, 3-month and 12-month increments, though Amazon has a six-month option available for around $35.) 

Game Pass, which normally runs $10 per month for the console version, isn't included in this case but it's clear that paying for the One S All-Digital console outright would save you a lot of money if you're willing to give that up. 

If you do want Game Pass, you can get the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate option which bundles it with Xbox Live Gold for $45 per quarter ($180 per year). If you take advantage of Microsoft's deal of three months for $1, your total for buying an Xbox One S All Digital and Game Pass Ultimate would be $340 over the same 18 months.  

Xbox One S All-Digital pricing

Console Totals
Xbox One S All-Digital with Xbox Live (18 months) $274
Xbox One S All-Digital with Game Pass Ultimate (18 months) $330
Xbox One S All-Digital All Access subscription with upgrade after 18 months $380

Things are a little more complicated for the Xbox One X. That system, which is currently down to around $350 for the holidays, would be $372 for a 12-month period if you did Microsoft's All-Access subscription service to finance the console instead of buying outright and then upgraded next year.  

Because you can upgrade earlier, when you factor in the cost of a year of Xbox Live, the total cost of buying a One X outright would be around $410 ($350 for the console and $60 for the year of Xbox Live). There is no upgrade fee for jumping from the One X to the new Xbox, making the subscription an even more compelling option here. 

Xbox One X pricing

Console Totals
Xbox One X with Xbox Live Gold (12 months) $410
Xbox One X with Game Pass Ultimate (12 months) $486
Xbox One X All Access subscription with upgrade after 12 months $372

With a year still to go until the next holiday season, getting a console now isn't necessarily a bad choice. As with everything else in technology, there always is something newer, faster and better around the corner. But before you decide to plunge hundreds of dollars on a new system, keep in mind that we know when the next round of upgrades are coming -- and it's not that far away. 

If you are looking for a new Xbox One S All-Digital, depending on the holiday deal you may be better buying it outright as opposed to going through All Access. If you have your eyes on the One X and are already thinking about Series X going with All Access could help you game now while saving up for later.