The Sony Playstation 3 has been on the market for half a year, so it's time to see how it's stacking up against the other video game console made for hard-core gamers, the Xbox 360.
Actually, both consoles are lagging in sales behind the new Nintendo Wii, which has captured kids and women gamers.
In May, the Wii ($250) reportedly sold 338,000 units, compared to the Xbox 360 (155,000 consoles; most at $400 each), and the PS 3 (82,000 systems at $600, though summer sales drop the price to $500).
But here's my own bottom line for you the consumer:
The Wii may be the safe choice of a protective parent, and for an amateur or casual gamer who just wants a fun toy to play with. But if you're a serious gamer, I'd recommend the Xbox 360 over the PS 3 by a whisker, because it offers more games, and it's less expensive.
For new games: Xbox 360
Many great titles, such as "Call of Duty 3," are made for both the PS 3 and the Xbox 360. But the PS 3 still hasn't released some multiplatform games that already are on the 360.
And only the 360 will offer the upcoming "Halo 3," which probably will outsell every game this year.
For old games: PS 3
The PS 3 plays every old PS 2 game I've plunked into it. By contrast, I've gotten my 360 to play only one original-Xbox game, "Halo 2."
For visuals and graphics: Tie
I've seen no difference, generally. GameSpot magazine just did a technical comparison of images from "Armored Core 4" and deemed them virtually identical.
PS 3 could take the graphics lead in the next year, as game designers start digging into the PS 3's bigger computer.
For online play: Xbox 360
The fantastic Xbox Live changed my life. But Live's premium Gold service is exorbitant at $50 a year.
You don't pay a penny to play a PS 3 game online. But as of now, there are simply more great Xbox 360 games to play online.
For extras: PS 3
If you already surf cable Internet, you can check the Web on the PS 3. It's not smooth, though. I never use it.
Far more valuable is the PS 3's ability to upload music, photos and videos. I keep my iPod plugged into the Xbox 360.
But I burned hundreds of albums onto DVDs, then put those DVDs into the PS 3, and the Sony system uploaded all that music seamlessly. I now use my PS 3 as a massive, awesome jukebox.
For consumer stability: Tie
The Xbox 360 may freeze during online gaming too often. But it's outselling the PS 3, giving it better market stability at the moment. That's the battle. The winner of the war is a guess, because of each system's movie player.
The 360 plays DVDs, and for $200 more you can add an HD DVD player. Or, you can play regular DVDs and Blu-ray disks on the PS 3. If HD DVD is the next big thing, the 360 benefits. If Blu-ray prevails, the PS 3 gains.
The PS 3 got a boost when Blockbuster just announced it will sell more Blu-ray movies than HD DVDs.
But Sony is restricting the adult-film market from burning movies onto Blu-ray disks, which is reminiscent of when Sony restricted the adult-film market from burning movies to Beta, thereby sealing its obsolete fate against its VHS rival.