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It’s only September, so parents might be forgiven for thinking there’s no need to panic yet over Christmas present shopping for little Johnny and little Jane.

But experience tells us that, come December, one gadget or toy will emerge as the must-have festive gift. All the indications are that this year it will be the PSP, or PlayStation Portable handheld computer games console.

The second lesson of Christmas past is that the must-have toy will have the scarcity value of the Koh-i- Noor diamond come December 21 and parents will be fighting in the aisles of Toys R Us for the last console on the shelf.

So do yourself a favour and buy or order one now, because if your kid doesn’t find one under the Norwegian spruce on December 25, your life will be a living hell.

So what’s so special about the PSP? Consoles, handheld or otherwise, live or die by the power of their gaming, and the PSP has it in spades. On its excellent, clear wide screen the game-play is fast and dynamic and the graphics vivid and full of colour.

The PlayStation generation will be reassured by familiar controls and delighted by the weight and portability of the device. My experience of the battery power has also been good and it appears you get a good couple of hours gaming before having to recharge.

But in the age of convergence, of course, it is not enough for one device to perform just one function, and so the PSP can also play movies using the same universal media disc as the games come on. The viewing experience is surprisingly good: the screen is clear and bright, even if the sound is deflated by Sony’s “ear-friendly” headphones.

And for those who value aesthetics as much as functionality, the PSP has an undeniable wow factor. So be warned: little Johnny may be 32 and not so little, but there’s a good chance he’ll still be looking to unwrap a PSP.

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