One of the PS3's most appealing features is its support for the Blu-ray Disc format, which lets you play HD (high-definition) movies. But can the console compete with standalone Blu-ray players from consumer electronics makers?

The short answer is yes. In our initial hands-on tests, the PS3's playback was very good - even better than we'd anticipated.

There are niggles. If the machine’s turned on, it won’t automatically start film discs, and you'd be well advised to buy a video remote rather than struggling with the game controller.

But the PS3's Blu-ray Disc movie player proved highly satisfactory in other ways. It loaded and navigated through discs rapidly, and the pop-up info display was elegantly designed - unobtrusive, yet easily readable. Compared with the Samsung BD-P1000, the PS3's picture appeared noticeably sharper and crisper, producing more depth and detail than the Samsung unit. Blu-ray’s potential for image clarity was immediately apparent.

Standalone Blu-ray players aimed at home theatre enthusiasts will feature dedicated video chipsets that are optimised solely for decoding video (as opposed to gaming), and the PS3 is unlikely to match them. But it’s a reasonably agile player, despite its rough navigational edges. And you’d be spending hundreds less than you would for a basic player - with the ability to play games too.

Read our full review of the PS3 here.