We all know that loans exist to be paid back, with interest. But until then, enjoy it and splash out on some new tech!

Microsoft or Sony. Who will be number one at Christmas?

Christmas is nearly here again and all the big names are ready to sell you a heap of new gadgets. So what should you blow your loan on?

It’s that time of year when we should all be starting to think about giving to others and being thankful. To be specific you should definitely be thankful for the wide variety of new consoles you can get your hands on this Christmas.

A senior source working in the industry explained to me that: “To satisfy the demand and to maximise the extra customers at the busiest time of the year all platform holders have released new or upgraded products”.

The new Kinect® for the Xbox 360 and Sony’s new Move® for the Playstation 3 both tap into that once unique market of the Wii and motion-sensor gaming. The Kinect® (around £130) is currently out of stock at all the major retailers, it seems the new system has been more popular than Microsoft expected. Much like the Wii when it was first released back in November 2006.

Sony’s offering, the Move® is retailing at around £45, a much more student friendly price, and it seems that most retailers have plenty in stock. For your £45 you seem to get more than with the Kinect® but then maybe that’s the point. The Move® system is similar to the Wii, based on a camera and two motion controllers whereas the Kinect is based solely on your body movement. It focuses on 48 points of movement, meaning that you really get away from the experience of using a controller.

The main focus of Microsoft has been the Playstation 3 and vice versa, always competing to offer the best system, and this year, nothing has changed.

The new Xbox 360 slim (£150 for a 4GB, £200 for a 250GB version) offers Wi-Fi connectivity, a 250GB hard drive and a quieter fan. If you want to get a new Xbox 360 with Kinect® then you can expect to pay around £300 when it comes back in stock. The new model of the Playstation 3 (from around £230 – £290) offers a massive 320GB hard drive and its new ability to play 3D games through a 3D TV. The new console with the Move® accessory should retail at around £290 with a game included.

So what can Nintendo offer to try and stay ahead of the game? Well as of the end of October you’ll be able to get your hands on a limited edition Super Mario Wii retailing at around £180, £20 more than the standard version. It celebrates the 25th anniversary of Mario by featuring a copy of the new game as well as the very first Donkey Kong (where Mario makes his first appearance). Also recently released by Nintendo is the DSi in a range of new colours, retailing at around £115.

The key to this Christmas is to do your research and shop around before purchasing. Look out for my individual review of each of the consoles coming up on RiverOnline over the next few weeks, where I will explain the benefits of Sony’s free network access, Microsoft’s self diagnosing console and a fire-based replacement for the Wii sensor bar.

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