Something for the games fan who has everything

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The Independent Online

It's the Holy Grail of games consoles. But it has been found, in the murky depths of Colindale, north-west London. Go to a shopping centre called Oriental City, and you could be the proud owner of a brand new Sony PlayStation 2 console, one of the most sought-after pieces of consumer equipment in the world.

There's one big drawback: it could cost you between £700 and £1,000, four times the expected price when the British version is released in September.

Currently only officially available in Japan, Sony's new machine sold out within days of its first appearance on 4 February: the company said that one million were sold in the first week. There, they cost Â¥39,600 (about £230), and it is rumoured that Japanese customs and shipping companies are refusing to allow the export of the machines or related equipment.

However some are now on show in a shop at Oriental City, Colindale, a popular shopping centre with the local Japanese community. Yussuf Mowlah, manager of the shop, QTEC Systems, would not say how he got his hands on his consignment, and admits the consoles are costly. "Our main aim is not to actually sell them," he said. "We thought it would be nice for people to see something unique. They come in and they are shocked to see it."

A spokesman for Sony admitted: "It's not illegal to bring the machines here" and added that the company had no power to prevent their sale.

But besides the price, there are several drawbacks that could make it more tempting to wait for the British launch. The warranty will not be valid here, and games released here will not work on the Japanese version. Nor will the machine's DVD player play American or European films - at least, not without a special code.

And for obvious reasons, the consoles' instructions will be in Japanese - as will the games and their instructions.