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British PlayStation 2 consoles have followed their US cousins into the e-auction rooms as desperate gamers try to get their mitts on Sony's next-generation games machine. However, few are willing to spend as much money as their transatlantic counterparts were ready to offer.

With the US launch allocation of PlayStation 2s cut from one million machines to 500,000 a number of buyers rushed to offer their consoles on the likes of eBay. US gamers quickly pushed the bidding up to $6100 - though the bidder layer claimed he'd entered the final zero by mistake - and then leapt to $14,999.

That's one hell of a mark-up - if you could ever persuade the bidder to pay up.

British PlayStation buffs seem rather less ready with the readies, however. According to early reports, the best we Brits can offer is just under £300 ($435) - and one seller demanding £480 ($700) has yet to see the reserve price met.

In the US the PlayStation 2 retails for $299 - in the UK, it retails for around £290 ($433).

Despite promises that it would not cut Europe's allocation of machines, Sony last month said the UK, for one, would receive only 165,000 consoles and not the 200,000 it had originally promised.

That has left British buyers - even those who took the trouble to pre-order machines from consumer electronics emporia like Dixons - wondering whether they will get a machine today, the day of the console's official UK launch, or sometime before Christmas. ®

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