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Must-have Sony PlayStation 3 accessories

The Sony PlayStation 3 is crammed full of great features, but you'll need at least a few extras to fill out the package.

The PlayStation 3 is finally available for sale--in theory, anyway. Those fortunate few who were lucky enough to get their hands on Sony's bleeding-edge console will find that it's chock full of features, but there are some choice accessories you'll want to pick up to maximize the PS3 experience.

PlayStation 3

Extra controllers: The PS3 supports up to seven wireless controllers, but two to four is still the standard for most multiplayer games. Since the console ships with just a single controller, you'll need to pick up at least one more if you want to go head-to-head on launch titles like Resistance: Fall of Man, Madden NFL 07, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, or NBA 07. The old PS2 controllers won't work on your PlayStation 3, so your choices are limited. You can opt for another Sony SIXAXIS wireless controller ($50, identical to the one included with the console) or go for the Logitech ChillStream ($40), a PS3-ified version of the accessory giant's fan-cooled PC gamepad. It'll keep your palms sweat-free, but--unlike the SIXAXIS--it's not wireless.

HDMI cable: Sony has touted the PS3's high-definition pedigree at every turn, so it's rather ironic that the company ships both versions of the PS3 with just a composite A/V cable--which can't deliver any high-def resolutions, let alone the vaunted best-in-class 1080p. To see the games and Blu-ray movies in HD (and we're assuming you have a compatible HDTV), your best bet is to get an HDMI cable, which provides an all-digital audio and video connection from the PS3 to your HDTV (or A/V receiver) on a single wire. A lot of people are under the impression that HDMI cables can't be had for under $80--and, to be sure, you'll pay $100 or more for premium brand names such as tk prod Monster and Belkin PureAV. But we've had good luck with "generic" brands, which can be obtained for as little as $20--if not less.

Home router (wired or wireless): With the PS3, Sony will be debuting a massive online infrastructure that will allow users to play games head-to-head, download demos, access exclusive multimedia content, and communicate with fellow gamers. And unlike Microsoft's Xbox Live, Sony is pledging that basic online game play will be free of charge (Title-specific subscriptions, upgrades and special offers will cost money, of course). The PS3 even includes a built-in Web browser. To access all that online content, of course, you'll need a broadband connection. Both versions of the PS3 include an Ethernet port (and an Ethernet cable), and the 60GB "deluxe" version offers built-in Wi-Fi to boot. Just make sure you have a router in the vicinity.

PS2 memory card adaptor: Despite reports of some incompatibilities, the PlayStation 3 is designed to play nearly all of the past PS2 and even original PlayStation games right out of the box. And unlike the Nintendo Wii, you won't need your old controllers or memory cards--the PS3 controller will work fine with the old games, and you can save your progress to the internal hard drive. But for those die-hards who've started a game of God of War or Final Fantasy XII on the PS2, and have their progress saved on the old console's proprietary memory cards, Sony's got a workaround. Just plug in the memory card adaptor ($15) to one of the PS3's USB ports, and you can copy all your saved games onto the new system. So, unlike Xbox owners who were forced to exile all their old saved games when upgrading to a 360, you won't have to start those games from scratch.

A game: Unlike the Wii, the PS3 ships without a game in the box (though initial shipments of the console include the Will Ferrell movie Talladega Nights on Blu-ray). As mentioned above, most of your old PS2 games should work just fine, but to see the new console pumping pixels at its full potential, you'll want to get at least one of the new games available. Resistance: Fall of Man--a PS3 exclusive--is an early favorite.

Only five accessories? That's it? For starters, yes. Once we get a taste of the PS3's online features (activated only hours ago), we'll update the list to include other add-ons (Bluetooth headsets, anyone?). Of course, the PS3 will really shine when integrated into a top-notch home theater--with a large HDTV and a full-on surround sound audio system--but calling either of those an "accessory" would be a stretch.