A PC running something like an X800 card can really produce magic; cliche I know (hey look! Graphics got better!), but if you want to know what the next-gen consoles are going to be capable of, just look at today's £1000 quid PC.
TV people are very interested in realism, so I'm looking forward to showing them this:
Update: lovely ole Gribbley gives me a verbal kicking over this particular example.
[13:24] Gribbley: Sorry hon, I couldn't let this one pass, much as I tried. In the last generation, it was generally a good idea of the power of the console to look at a ~1k PC of the time. In this generation, there is _nothing_ out there that will give you a working idea of how powerful Xbox2 and PS3 are going to be
[13:24] Gribbley: They're going to blow any and all existing hardware benchmarks out of the water
[13:25] Crystaltips: heh
[13:25] Gribbley: CPU-wise, you can maybe look at a dual CPU grunt workstation or server but that'll likely still fall short for things like PS3/Cell if it's written for correctly.
[13:29] Gribbley: You might also want to consider exactly how graphics are going to step up from this generation and though that's down to speculation, you can make some fairly good guesses; they'll be pushing native HDTV rendering and FSAA a lot more to make graphics look less aliased and more like telly pictures, and they'll be doing a lot with cunning lighting, texturing and post rendering effects to try and trick the eye into thinking stuff isn't CGI in the traditional sense. Stuff like soft shadowing, soft lighting. It's going to be a subtle revolution.
I believe him too. "Realism" in games seems to be working so far (e.g. Half Life 2) and interestingly, while I'm very critical of almost-real CG characters in film (no! ugh!), they work far better in games, for me at least. Perhaps because games have always been digital and animated, the expectation of real humans has never been present?