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Is it worth bringing a PS3 back from the US?

Is it cheaper to buy a PS3 in the US and bring it back than buy it here? And will UK games work on it?

I see the PS3's launching in the UK soon, but I'm flying to the US and was wondering if buying one there and bringing it back would work out cheaper? And would UK games and movies work on it?

Dave Gillespie

The PlayStation 3 (read our full review here) comes in two versions in the US -- the basic version with a 20GB hard drive and the high-end version with a 60GB hard drive, Wi-Fi and a multiformat memory card reader. Only the 60GB version will be available in the UK from the launch on 23 March. The 20GB version will set you back $499 (£255) in the US, whereas the 60GB version costs $599 (£305).

While this seems much cheaper on the surface than the £425 we have to shell out in the UK, bear in mind you'll have to pay VAT at 17.5 per cent, which adds £45 to the 20GB version and £53 to the 60GB, for totals of £300 and £358. We checked with the lovely people at HM Customs & Excise, who confirmed that extra import duty did not apply.

If you do bring a PS3 back from the States, there are a few compatibility issues you need to be aware of. At the moment, PS3 games are not region-encoded, so you'll be able to play UK games on your US PS3 (it's possible Sony might introduce region encoding, but it's unlikely).

But it will only play US (aka NTSC) PlayStation 2 games, so you might need to replace your back catalogue. Blu-ray movies are region-encoded, so you'll have to import them from the US. The same is true of standard DVDs.

As for power, the PS3 has its transformer built in, so you'll just need a standard three-prong kettle lead with a UK plug.

The main advantage the US PS3 has over the UK version (apart from price) is its backwards compatibility. Simply put, the US PS3 has a PS2 chip inside it, so all US PS2 and PSOne games will work straight away.

The UK version does not have this feature, but 'emulates' the PS2 using software. This is a fairly difficult procedure though, and not all games are supported. Sony recently launched a Web site with a list of supported titles, and it also tells you whether they work properly or have some problems. If your game's not on the list, it ain't working at all. Sony has promised that titles will be regularly added to the list using firmware updates.