The thumb season

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In addition to games, a PS2 unit plays audio CDs, DVDs, and original Playstation games, which makes it one of the most versatile home entertainment systems on the market. Recently, Sony won the right to build Java decoders into PS2 consoles, which open the door for PC games.

In the future, you will be able to surf the Web and play online against other PS2 owners. In the meantime, the biggest development for this Christmas is the lame launch of PS2 in different colours.

Speaking of games, in the past year PS2 has chalked up more than 170 titles, or an average of 15 games per month. When you add in all the Playstation One games, you’ll be able to play more than titles.

The cost of a PS2 is hard to gauge – I couldn’t find a console anywhere that didn’t come with a game or two. Since the other super system manufacturers are doing the same thing, it’s hard to make a direct comparison.

Futureshop at is offering Playstation 2 with Grand Turismo for $479. Radio Shack Canada is offering PS2 with three games, Grand Turismo 3, ONI and Ready to Rumble for $599. is offering the system on its own for about $299 U.S. With the exchange and shipping costs, you’re probably better off with a bundle.

Microsoft recently dove into the home gaming melee with the Xbox, which has been delayed more times than a shuttle launch. It’s still not ready, although it should be in stores by the release date of Nov. 15.

That didn’t stop it from selling out through advance orders, however. Not wanting to make the same mistake as PS2 did in launching with only a limited number of consoles available, you can bet that the "sold out" sign on the Future Shop Web site is only temporary.

Like PS2, the Xbox is all about power. It has the fastest CPU of any console, plus a high-speed graphics card that rivals anything available on home computers.

It hasn’t been stacked up against the PS2 yet in a pixel by pixel comparison, but Microsoft is convinced they have the superior machine. The 733 Megahertz CPU is faster than the PS2’s 300 MHz Emotion Engine, but it is more conventional in its architecture.

It has an internal hard drive, a first for game consoles, which is an added bonus for gamers – PS2 users have to use memory cards, which can be lost, stepped on, and accidentally erased.

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