IT'S almost time to throw your much-loved lump of expensive electronics in the bin again.

I'm talking, of course, about the impending next generation of gaming consoles.

Some details of the PS4 were released earlier this year, and now Microsoft have dived into the fray by offering a tantalising glimpse at their next console, the XBox One.

Aside from the fact that this means all our PS3s and XBox 360s will soon be obsolete, this is obviously exciting news for gamers.

However, the internet is already aglow with venting by enraged XBox lovers over Microsoft's plans to effectively kill the second-hand games market.

It appears that XBox One games will require a unique code to activate, via t'internet, which will allow them to be played on only one console.

This move, which is obviously all about racking up the dollars for Microsoft, means no selling games second-hand and no "lending" games to friends.

Judging by comments on online forums, this could cost Microsoft dear in the long-run, assuming Sony don't go the same way with the PS4.

People's comments are focusing less on the new technology of the console than they are on this move towards a download-only games purchase model, with many vowing to reject the XBox in favour of the PS4 or a new desktop PC.

So what can we expect from the new generation?

The new controllers for both systems have changed very little since their last incarnation - very little, in fact, since their first incarnation - if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The Playstation controller has always been the superior one, in my mind, fitting nicely into the hand, unlike the oversized, chunky and cheap-feeling XBox behemoth.

The main addition to the PS4 controller is a laptop-style touchpad controller, which should make web browsing and some more cerebral games easier.

Thankfully there will be no disc format war this time, like the Blu Ray vs HD DVD dilemma that plagued early buyers of the last generation.

The XBox One will have a Blu Ray drive, just like the PS4 (and, indeed, the PS3), which is good news for everyone.

Microsoft say they want the XBox One to make a big step towards being a home entertainment hub, with seamless integration with and fast flicking between games, TV and video conferencing, via Skype.

However, the real test will be how both consoles compete with the smartphone and tablet revolution that has happened since the last generation.

Users' "screen-time" is increasingly being taken up by handheld devices for things like Facebook and catch-up TV services, and an link-up deal with a smartphone partner (as yet unmentioned by either manufacturer) could prove decisive.