Christmas console war!

Choosing the right console is one of the most important decisions of your life. So here's our Yule Tide guide to the three major contenders for your Christmas cash, their capabilities laid bare, their strengths probed and their weaknesses exposed.

$399 (£299) - $499 (£399)

After a troubled launch it's great to see that the PS3 is just as cool as and much more capable than its PlayStation predecessors. And of course the price cut really helps.

Need to know:
Confusingly, there are three models of PS3 - 40GB, 60GB, and 80GB - available at the moment. The 60GB model is being discontinued and may not be available in some areas already. The 40GB PS3 is the cheapest, but loses the media card ports, two USB slots and most significantly, backwards compatibility with PS2. We'd go for the superior 80GB model if you can afford it.

Key features:
High definition output
Plays Blu-ray discs, DVDs, CDs, MP3s
USB, Wi-Fi and HDMI connectivity
Motion-sensing Sixaxis controller
Capable of running Linux
Built-in Wi-Fi

Online services:
No subscription charges
Communicate online with PlayStation Eye
PlayStation Store - download trailers, games, demos, wallpapers
Internet access
Extra costs/requirements: HDMI cable, broadband
Non essential extras: PlayStation Eye, Controller, HD-TV