Holiday Buyers' Guide 2006 - PSP

Sony's handheld has gone through some rough patches since its release in early 2005, but it's still the most impressive piece of handheld hardware you can own for less than $300. With its big, high-definition screen and games that approach the PlayStation 2 in terms of visual quality, this is definitely the handheld of choice for players who demand top-notch graphics.

It's also versatile; using a Memory Stick Duo (sold separately, unless you spring for the $250 Entertainment Pack instead of the bare-bones, $199 Core version), it can store and play MP3 music files, still images and movie files. If you've got a wireless network, the PSP can easily connect to it for online gaming or web browsing. And if you're dead-set on using it as a portable movie player, you can buy full-length films on Sony's proprietary UMD disc format for around $10-$30.

While the system is a sweet chunk of hardware, however, the games themselves have been hit or miss (mostly miss). There's an increasing number of diamonds in the rough, though, and so long as you know what kind of gamer you're shopping for, we've got a few to recommend in the following pages.

Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.