Hooking your games console up to the internet lets you take your gaming to the next level, allowing you to battle people across the world online.
The first thing that you need to do is sign up to a fast, reliable broadband provider so that you can get online and ensure that you won't be kicked off the gaming servers for being too slow.
Like downloading music and movies, or watching internet TV, online gaming also uses up your download allowance so you need to have a package with either a truly unlimited broadband download limit - or one with a generousfair usage policy- or, a set download allowance that can easily handle your online activities.
Using its cable broadband network, Virgin Media (www.VirginMedia.com) - offers up to 60Mb and 100Mb broadband and is consistently shown in Ofcom speed tests to be the fastest widely available broadband provider in the UK.
BT broadband (www.BT.com) has invested heavily in its own fibre network and also offers speeds of up to 100Mb, with up to 38Mb and up to 76Mb packages also available. BT's fibre broadband network is undergoing rapid expansion and will be available to two-thirds of the population by 2014.
PlayStation 3 (PS3)
All PlayStation 3's (PS3) come with built-in Wi-Fi, so you can connect to the internet without having to run wires around your house. Simply choose your wireless broadband network from the list of available networks, enter your WEP or WPA security key, and you'll be able to play online games, stream music and movies and browse the internet.
To set up your connection go to Settings - Network Settings, from the PS3 Home Menu, then Internet Connection and select Enable. Scroll to Internet Connection Settings and follow the on screen instructions.
If you don't have a wireless router, you can also connect your PS3 using an ethernet cable plugged directly into your modem.
Connecting your Wii to the internet not only lets you play games online, it also brings you BBC iPlayer, the latest news, weather reports and game downloads and you can even send text messages and swap data with other Wii owners online.
The Wii standard settings allow you to connect to your home wireless broadband, but if you use a wired connection, you will have to buy a separate Wii LAN adapter.
Go to Wii Settings from your menu, click Internet on page two, select Connection Settings and follow the on-screen instructions to find an access point, or wireless network to connect to.
Using your Nintendo DS online is really easy. Simply connect to your home wireless network - or a publicWi-Fi hotspot- to access the free online service Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. If you have a Wi-Fi compatible game you can play against, and chat with, other DS users online, or simply use your Nintendo DS to surf the web.
Go to the System Settings and choose the Internet option, then Connection Settings and follow the on-screen instructions.
Like the Nintendo DS, the PlayStation Portable (PSP) allows you to play online games, surf the web and even talk to friends using Skype once you're connected to a wireless broadband connection. Simply select your wireless network from the Settings menu to connect to the PlayStation Network for free.