It's the news British console-game players have been waiting for. Sony Computer Entertainment (SCEI) plans to launch its PlayStation 2 games console a month before this year’s Christmas Eve.

But the whoops of joy are likely to be accompanied by charges of rip off Britain, with UK gamers facing an Xmas price tag of £299 (inc. VAT). Our contintental German and French cousins, by contrast, will only have to part with £269 (inc. VAT).

For anyone buying the new machine, SCEI said it expects to have 40 software titles available between the launch date and Christmas – that’s twice as many titles as greeted the machine's launch in Japan.

The console, SCEI's second-generation player, was launched in Japan during March and, the company announced last week, has achieved sales of 3 million units since its launch.

In addition to featuring faster graphics and better sound than the original PlayStation, the new machine can double as a DVD-Video player and comes with several expansion ports not found on the original machine.

These include PC Card slots, which SCEI hopes to use to connect broadband network adapters to the machine.