14:11 06 December 2005
Not too long ago, handheld gaming machines were something to keep the kids quiet. Now they're the gadget of choice for adults.
Each of the devices currently on offer is aimed at a different market - so there's not much point picking a favourite.
What really matters is the games. If you like traditional PlayStation-style games, then the PSP is probably for you. If you prefer the quirkier games, then it's probably the DS.
Sony PlayStation Portable
The PSP looks and feels gorgeous. With its sleek and sophisticated lines, it's the iPod of games machines, aimed as much at adults as teenagers.
It broke all the records to become the fastest-selling games machine of all time this year, and it's not difficult to see why.
For a start, the games look and sound fantastic. Games that were previously only seen on big consoles like the PlayStation 2 play on the PSP thanks to the new format - the Universal Media Disc (UMD).
The 4.3in-wide screen is a work of wonder, and the graphics are truly impressive. The PSP connects wirelessly to 16 other PSPs, allowing you to sit on a train and race cars with passengers in the next carriage.
However, the games are just part of the story. Sony has persuaded movie studios and TV companies to release videos on the UMD format and there are dozens of titles - including Little Britain, Doctor Who and Spider-Man 2.
You can also play films and music through a removable memory stick, and browse the internet through a wireless connection. The battery lasts up to six hours between charges.
It may look ugly, but the clam-like DS is changing the way people play computer games. It features two 3in screens - one conventional, and one that is touch-sensitive.
The touch-sensitive screen is a real eye-opener. It lets you control characters by drawing, tapping or even blowing on the screen.
Where Sony is sticking with more conventional games, Nintendo is moving into some pretty weird and wonderful genres. The biggest hit is Nintendogs - the virtual puppies who need stroking, playing, feeding and training. Other games let you blow bubbles, bang drums and draw pictures.
The DS also features PictoChat - an addictive wireless tool that lets you send pictures and text to other DSs. It can also play conventional Gameboy Advance games.
The battery gives around 10 hours of play on a four-hour charge, and it comes in silver, blue or pink.
It's amazing to think that a box this small is playing the sort of games you used to get on a Sega Megadrive 15 years ago. It's just four inches by two inches - and weighs less than three ounces.
The screen is bright and clear, if a little small at two inches. It comes in blue, silver, green or pink. However, it plays only Gameboy Advance games and the list of titles is starting to look a little tired.
The Gizmondo does just about everything. It's got a MP3 player, digital camera, text messenger, movie player and global positioning system.
It doesn't make tea yet, but that's probably coming. It's fairly short on games titles, but it's the best all-rounder.
It hasn't really got the profile of the other machines and may suffer despite its versatility.
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