1. <hardware, operating system, history> The operator's station of a mainframe as opposed to an ordinary user's terminal. In times past, the console was a privileged location that conveyed godlike powers to anyone with fingers on its keys. Under Unix and other modern time-sharing operating systems, such privileges are guarded by passwords instead, and the console is just the tty the system was booted from. On Unix the device is called /dev/console.
On a microcomputer Unix box, the console is the main screen and keyboard. Other, character-only, terminals may be connected to serial ports. Typically only the console can do real graphics or run X. See also CTY.
2. <games> A self-contained microcomputer optimised for gaming, with powerful graphical output designed to be displayed on a television; equipped with one or more joystick controllers for input and an optical drive to load software. Later generations also feature Internet connection via wireless or wired Ethernet for downloading games and multiplayer networked play. Typically such devices have no keyboard so text must be input using the controller to operate an on-screen keyboard, e.g. to enter player names.
The most successful recent examples are the Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox families.