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ARTICLE

Christmas Buying Guide: PlayStation 3

Over the coming weeks as the Christmas shopping period enters full swing, we'll be looking at each of the major platforms in turn to see what they offer right now. If you're looking to make your first console purchase, or branch out to another format, this is everything you need to know. First up: Sony's PlayStation 3.

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With most people having to tighten their belts in recent months, this Christmas is likely to be a more modest affair than usual. It's good news then that price of consoles is going down and most are available as part of attractive bundle deals - Playstation 3 is no different, finally dropping down to the £200 bracket after years on the market.

System Benefits

Sony's machine offers gamers all of the things you would expect of this generation of console: high-definition output with HDMI (cable sold separately), online access for multiplayer games and the ability to play and burn your music collection onto the console.

Sony repeated the same trick with its PS2 with PS3, making sure the system came with an in-built Blu-ray and DVD player, making it an attractive proposition if you only want to splash on one unit for under your living room TV, and lets you consolidate all your movie watching from one box.

As long as you have broadband connection PlayStation 3 offers Wi-fi straight out of the box - no extra accessories needed - and the PSN Store offers PSOne classics, indie hits and game add-ons for PS3 titles.

The PSN Store also allows you to rent and buy movies, and everything can be purchased through credit card transactions or redeemable cards - and everything is only in real-world money, which is a major advantage over Microsoft's pre-pay Microsoft Points system.

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PS3 also has an internet browser. While less of an advantage in today's market were we can quickly access online through mobiles and tablets, its another nock on its bow as an all-in-one multi-media machine.

Sony has also struck deals with Love Film, the market's biggest movie rental chain, letting you stream movies instantly from the company's custom-made PS3 App as well as order films or games to be delivered in the post. There's also custom Apps for 4oD and BBC iPlayer, letting you watch the most recent programmes from both TV channels.

The console's controllers are wireless, though need to be recharged with the supplied USB cable. However, an in-built battery in the controller's body keeps things simple: no looking for more AA batteries or having to spend extra for a recharge unit.

For noise, PS3's one of the quietest machines on the market, silent during multi-media use, and only emitting a barely noticeable hum when spinning games discs.

Pros

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The PS3 is served by some stunning exclusives: (from left to right) Uncharted, Killzone, Resistance.

The PS3 has been with us for the best part of five years now, which means the diversity and size of its release catalogue is huge, and along with Sony exclusives such as Uncharted, Killzone and Resistance, the console is guaranteed to have every major third-party title released on it for a good few years to come.

While other consoles are starting to show their age, the PS3 is still delivering some of the best-looking entertainment out there as developers are only recently starting to get to grips with the system's architecture.

Thanks to the advantage of the larger space capacity afforded by Blu-ray, games ship on a single, rather than multiple, discs, which can be all important in needing you to swop halfway through a game's campaign to get the whole story.

While there is a paid-for Plus service that offers downloads at discount prices and exclusive demos, you can use PS3's online store and its Apps for absolutely free. That there's no yearly contract to use online is of a huge bonus for the console.

Read on for the cons of the console, must-play titles and the best deals for picking a PlayStation 3 up this winter.

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