It's no secret I'm a big fan of the XBOX 360, but after playing with my new Nintendo Wii for a week or so, I have to say that it is much better suited for families. Although it's missing some features in my opinion, it's got the other systems beat in a few key areas.
First is the price. If you can find one in the stores, it's only going to cost you $250, which is $100 cheaper than the standard XBOX 360 and $250 cheaper than the standard Playstation 3. Sure it's not going to play BlueRay DVDs (or even regular DVDs) but for a next generation video game system (that plays great games) it's a bargain.
Next is the interface or "usability" of the system itself. Everything is based around using a remote control (or "Wiimote") and everyone that's tried to use it in my house - from my 3 year old daughter to my parents - understand how to use it immediately. Not only does the game know you're pointing it at the television, it also knows if you're rotating, tilting or moving it around anywhere. Personally I think it's easier to use than an XBOX 360 controller and way more approachable to kids and novice video game players.
And let's be honest, the biggest reason it's probably best for families is - it's Nintendo. Nintendo did something smart and didn't try to create a system that would be all things to all people. Instead they created a great little console that plays games (that are challenging but easy to play) with some of the most classic names in video game history like Mario, Zelda, Metroid and all the rest. One of my personal favorite things is that you can download via an internet connection old-school Nintendo games like Temco Bowl, Super Mario Brothers, Punch Out, and Wave Race 64 right to your Wii.
There are a few things I wish were different. You can view pictures on your Wii, but unfortunately you can't connect it to another computer in your house to view photos or listen to music like you can with an XBOX 360. I was able to download a web browser and view pictures on my flickr page, so it's kind of possible, but not as simple. The web browser (which the 360 doesn't have) is pretty useful - my aunt uses the web browser to listen to her Sirius Satellite Radio online through her home stereo, which works out well.
So if you're starting to think about a video game system for the family for Christmas this year, I'd definitely give the Wii some serious consideration. If you can find one.