The Ultimate Video Game and System Buyer's Guide: Systems

One of the many things that make the PSP unique is the use of plastic-encased optical discs called UMDs, Universal Media Discs, which look like tiny CDs trapped in a clear and white case.

While movie and TV studios jumped on the chance to make their shows and films available on UMDs, lackluster sales have caused them to all but pull out, making them hard to find.

Games for the PSP however, are not hard to find. Some great and unique titles for the PSP already line store shelves today, so new owners will have their pick of games to choose from.

The device uses Memory Stick Pro Duo cards, which have come down considerably in price since the PSPs release. A two-gigabyte card from SanDisk, for example, sells for less than $100.

A great and sleek package coupled with a great library of games, more on the way, the ability to play video, music, show off photos, connect to the Web and even download classic PlayStation 1 games, makes the $249 PlayStation Portable a great handheld that's sure to please.

Bottom Line: Though the PlayStation Portable is a little large for a pocket and UMDs can be a pain to carry around, there's no better looking handheld in terms of graphics and screen quality. A healthy offering of great games and the ability to play back video, music and photos make the PSP a great buy.

To learn more about the PlayStation Portable click here.

Nintendo DS Lite

Ah, Nintendo. A rough few years in the back seat of the home video game console market and you might think they were goners. But not only has their line of handheld game consoles kept them in the running, but the Nintendo DS has accounted for more growth in the video game industry than any other individual device in the business.

Why? Good design, fun games, portability and the continued promise of more of the same.

The Nintendo DS Lite is the latest handheld from the people who broke the market open with the Game Boy. Once again fixing things that aren't broken, Nintendo added a touch screen to the device's clam shell design and has incorporated it into countless games.

What at first feels a little more like a PDA than a video game system quickly transforms as players use the included Stylus pen to play their games.

Available in white, onyx and pink, the DS Lite retails for $129.99.

Bottom Line: The Nintendo DS is a very kid friendly handheld gaming system. It's good for adults, but the goofiness of some of the games may turn some off. Nintendo is very committed to their handheld business and you can be sure there are many exciting new features and attachments on the way for this very pocket-friendly distant cousin to the Game Boy.

To learn more about the Nintendo DS Lite click here.

PC

When you're out wrestling it out for a PSP or tugging on one end of a Nintendo Wii don't forget about the video game system you may already own: your computer.

There are tons of great games made for the PC and many games only made for the PC. Many of the best-rated and best-selling console games originated on computers.

One of the nice things is that if your computer was purchased in the last couple of years, it's probably current enough to play many of today's great PC games. Unlike console games that run at a specified graphics setting so it looks the same on every system, players can turn different settings on or off, or make them higher or lower so they run as well as possible on the computer.

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