It's a great time to be a gamer. Whether you're one yourself or just buying for one, the release of two new next-generation video game consoles from Sony and Nintendo, and the continued success of the Xbox 360 make for a geeky wonderland of high-tech holiday options.
Though you may not know the difference between a Wii and a PSP, this look at all of the major gaming systems -- from home consoles to handhelds -- should be enough to educate the uneducated and illimuniate the initiated.
PlayStation 3 (PS3)
Sony's follow-up to the PlayStation 2 has received mixed reviews from the gaming community so far. Where there was a great deal of excitement leading up to the release of the machine, the lack of adequate stock and some complaints that the PS3 is too complex for average users will likely have little effect on sales but will give pause at a time when they're so hard to find and auctioneers on eBay ask for thousands.
With the machines priced at $500 and $600, depending on the model, many consumers will want to wait for early adopters to find the glitches before laying down big bucks and going through the frustration of trying to find one.
Sony's powerful PlayStation 3 is built for stunning, high-definition gaming, but it also features a built-in Blu-ray disc player that could be the machine's Achilles' heel or its greatest selling point. If you're in the market for a Blu-ray disc player, this is as cheap as it coms. But if you're worried that victory in the next generation DVD format wars may go to the HD DVD camp, or just want to sit it out until a victor is declared, this likely isn't the machine for you.
The PS3 comes in two models, one featuring a 60-gigabyte hard drive, a built-in Wi-Fi adapter and memory card readers. The other has only a 20-gigabyte hard drive and no wireless adapter or memory card readers. Both units can make use of the PS3's "six-axis" controller, which features motion-sensing technology that responds to players' movements.
Bottom Line: If you can find a PlayStation 3, buy one -- even if it's just to auction it off for $2,000 on eBay. But chances are, you're not going to find one, and that may be a good thing. This system is really built for hardcore gamers and technophiles and the $500 + cost of entry should deter anyone who isn't -- at least at this early stage.
To learn more about the PlayStation 3 click here.
PlayStation 2 (PS2)
So you want a PlayStation 3 but can't find one? If you don't already own a PlayStation 2, now may be the time to jump on the same bandwagon as tens of millions of others in North America.
The most recent incarnation of the machine is known as the PS2 Slim due to its ultra compact design that makes it thinner than a paperback book and not much larger.
Despite Sony's recent launch of the PS3, the company has made public its commitment to keep the more-than-1,400-title game library growing in the next five years. In fact, some of the console's best-rated games have only been released in the last 12 months.
Featuring a built-in Ethernet port so gamers can compete with and against other players online and the ability to play CDs and DVDs, the PS2 is available in black and -- for a limited time -- silver, and retails for just $129.99.