My thoughts on the consoles I've owned or played often (discluding handhelds) because I want to give my opinion of all (cause I like to write about gaming):
NES - The games were way too hard. I never finished a single one and it's not just because I was pretty young back then. I still have a hard time finishing them now, and I'm a fairly decent gamer :(
SNES - The beginning of real gaming for me. I could actually finish these games, the difficulty level reached a sweet spot, the graphics were mindblowing at the time, tons of releases, and most games released for SNES are still playable now (graphically they still look pretty nice). Controls were really tight, too.
N64 - A bastion of poor decisions. From the controller, to the expansion slots, the rumble pack, choosing the cartridge format, etc. There just weren't a whole lot of games released either. I mean, of course, some the best games of this generation were released on N64 too. Mario Kart 64, Super Mario 64, Perfect Dark, Golden Eye, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time, Pokemon Stadium, and Wave Race 64 were all amazing. Overall, it was still a misstep for Nintendo.
Playstation - Blew me away. The graphics have not aged well, but at the time they were incredible. Great controller design, extensive game library, and the golden age of RPGs. The ability to play CDs seemed so cool to me at the time, as did Baby Universe and all of that. Probably the biggest leap forward when it comes to any console yet in my opinion.
Playstation 2 - Again, amazing at first, the ability to play DVDs, great game library, looked awesome... and then you realized that the fat PS2 model was poorly designed with its lack of a dust shield on the laser. After the first few of the generation most RPGs sucked, and there wasn't really a solidified "mascot" of this generation. A lot of good series were poorly represented on the PS2. Still a pretty solid console overall. Long lifespan. Great controller. They should've done more with the online.
Gamecube - Disappointing controller, small games catalog, lackluster exclusives with the exception of Windwaker and Super Smash Brother's. Pretty decent graphics, though, still not super-well designed (the mini-CD decision is still baffling to this day; it's cheaper to use a pre-established media Nintendo, get with the times).
Xbox - I hated the controller and the console's designs for both reasons of form and function, but I have to admit that this was the first console to really get online right. It's just unfortunate that the console really lacked solid game releases in certain genres (RPG, Strategy) and really only had Halo driving it forward as a recognizable brand. Don't get me wrong though, Halo 1 & 2 were awesome. And I loved the Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.
Wii - Gimmicky trash with the exception of Wiiware downloadable titles and a few decent games here and there. Incredibly small catalog of games worth playing, and I hate the motion controller's lack of precision and real utility. More of an impediment to fun than fun itself. Of course, this is just the opinion of someone who probably fits into the hardcore gaming category more than casual or mainstream; Wii is a very nice console for the gaming lite crowd, so I have to realize and admit to my own bias on this one.
Xbox 360 - Good solid console, improved controllers, excellent online support, and a neat overall interface. Extremely affordable too. I really love a lot of the arcade titles. The addition of achievements was brilliant. And while Playstation 3 has caught up to Xbox 360 in most ways, I feel this is the undisputed king of the current generation (for hardcore gamers) because so many of the features that Playstation 3 added after launch were pretty much stolen outright from Xbox 360 (trophies, anyone?).
Playstation 3 - Shaky launch because the bluray technology was anything but useful at start. We're beginning to see some applications for it on games like Final Fantasy XIII (the 360 version needed 3 disks and still didn't have as good of visual fidelity because of compression to fit on them). The pricepoint of this system started way too high, in the beginning Sony made a ridiculous amount of mistakes, but at least now they're pulling out of their talespin. They still have a bit of a ways to go in catching up when it comes to the overall quality of the online experience, but at least they don't charge you to play games on the internet. One thing that PS3 has done amazingly well is integrate support for the modding community into titles like Little Big Planet and Modnation Racers. I have high hopes for the future of Sony consoles.
Overall: I'd still say Playstation was the most revolutionary step forward, PS2 was a great addition, and Sony stumbled at first with PS3. Microsoft did a great job of building a niche with Xbox then expanding into mainstream gaming with Xbox 360, but I still feel their products are too aimed at the FPS crowd. Nintendo is still targeting families and casual gamers far too much to really cover the full spectrum.
All of that is about to change with the launch of Move and Kinect however, and at the same time 3DS is taking aim at hardcore gamers in a way the Wii and DS have not. This holiday season is going to be an interesting time to be a video game analyst. I can't wait to see what that blowhard Pachter says.
(Sorry for writing all of that, sometimes I just like to talk)