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Sony PlayStation 3

It's also worth remembering that, with the addition of the PlayTV add-on (£60) and either the replacement of the internal 2.5in HDD with something bigger, or the purchase of a cheap, high capacity external HDD, the PS3 becomes a very competent Freeview PVR, complete with slick EPG. In other words, if you wanted just one box on which to play games, watch movies, surf channels and stream content from your PC, then the PS3 is the only thing here that can really do the job.

The one thing that it doesn't have - in the UK at least - is a movie download service. The US now has a selection of TV programmes and feature films through its version of the PSN Store, available to rent for a 14 day period with a 24 hour viewing window, or to purchase. It's understood that Europe will get something similar next year. Hopefully, the speeds of the service will be an improvement on those in the US, where many forum posters make unflattering comparisons to the service on Xbox Live. That said, Sony's clout in the movie business means that the titles on offer are stronger, and if Sony can carry all that to the European service despite the usual licensing issues over here, then it could be another major point in the PS3's favour.

Finally, the PS3 makes a good choice if you also own (or plan to own) a PSP. Using the Remote Player functionality of the PS3 you can pair your trusty handheld with your console and watch any content stored on the PS3 on the smaller screen. The PS3 sets up its own dedicated 802.11b link to support this within the house, and you can also access content while you're away over PSN. If the European PSN Movie Store follows the US example, you should also be able to transfer purchased or rented movies to the PSP for watching on the move.

Pros:

Quiet and unobtrusive
Solid video format support
Optional Freeview playback and record
Blu-ray

Cons:

Can be more complex to set up a PC connection
No UK video store as yet

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