product have caused such a stir as the highly-anticipated Sony PLAYSTATION®3.
The game consoles were being sold for several times the retail price when initially
released and many potential customers waited in long lines, sometimes overnight
to get a chance to buy the new units. Even more surprising was the average age
of these gamers. It became obvious that many of the buyers were in their 30's
and 40's. After all, how many teenagers could afford to dole out $500 or $600
for a game console. It all happened on November 17, 2006, when Sony released their
most advanced PLAYSTATION which was created with a variety of cutting-edge technologies.
At the heart of the unit were the all-new Cell and RSX processors along
with a Gigabit Ethernet interface and Blu-ray disc drive. Customers with conventional
NTSC/PAL televisions as well as those with the latest Full-HD (1080p) displays
could take advantage of the stellar processing capabilities offered in the new
PS3. The elegant look of the PS3 with its curvy architecture easily fits in with
much more expensive components and is a nice addition to a stylish home theater
system. The 60GB PS3 includes a standard A/V cable, USB cable with the wireless
controller, ethernet cable and a power cord. As it turns out, Sony has abandoned
the less expensive PS3 offering, which offered a smaller 20GB hard drive and no
Wi-Fi. It is a move that made sense since most of the units being sold were the
more expensive model.
media room is designed primarily for home theater and the addition of the Sony
PLAYSTATION®3 adds a whole new dimension to our environment. Our projector
is a Mitsubishi HC5000 offering Full-HD 1080p projected on our 100-inch 16:9 Stewart
FireHawk filmscreen. Full 1080p requires a whole lot of video bandwidth so a quality
HDMI cable will be required for long video runs. Cables such as the VizionWare
Hi-Wirez or the Accell UltraRun worked great in our setup without introducing
visible artifacts at 1080p.
top of the PS3 has touch sensitive buttons for power and disc eject. The red standby
light turns blue when the unit is turned on. The front of the PS3 has four USB
inputs for controllers or other input devices such as the Logitech G25 Steering
Wheel System. The SIXAXIS wireless controller included with the unit charges itself
through this interface. The front
side cover has slots for various memory devices including Memory Stick Duo,
SD/Mini SD, and CompactFlash. The user interface makes it easy to access the contents
of the memory device plugged into the console.
rear panel of the PS3 has an array of interconnects for video, audio and networking.
The HDMI output is essential for high-definition content and is fully compliant
with HDCP content protection when connected to a compatible display. The wired
ethernet connection worked well for us and was our link to the Sony server from
which we received our occasional firmware updates. Our 60GB unit also has Wi-Fi
(IEEE 802.11 b/g) built-in, but we used the wired connection. Digital audio exited
from the PS3 via a toslink connection and fed our Parasound processor for full
5.1 digital audio. Sony provides a cable for the A/V Multi-out interface with
standard A/V outputs used on older televisions not capable of handling analog
component or new digital interfaces. Optional cables are available that output
s-video or component video along with the two channel audio through this connector.
The unit gets quite warm with all the electronics inside, so a built-in fans keeps
adequate air flowing through the unit when powered on.
The PS3 includes several A/V cable options using the Multi-Out
A/V connector on the back of the unit. Our PS3 included a standard A/V cable which
includes no-frills RCA connectors with composite video and two-channel audio.
This will not give you a high quality picture, so you may want to look at other
options to maximize your experience depending upon your display capabilities.
Sony also offers an A/V cable with an s-video output and one with full component
video with audio (shown). Also, no HDMI cable is provided, so if your display
has this capability you will want to get one as soon as possible to fully maximize
your video experience. Users can select the output resolution of the unit starting
with 480i and cranking it up all the way to 1080p. This is the first consumer
product to support HDMI 1.3, so hopefully your HDMI cable is up to the task.
The SIXAXIS controller is a trademark look of the PLAYSTATION
consoles. These new wireless controllers have dropped the force-feedback option,
most likely due to greatly reducing the battery life. The motion sensing controller
is designed to provide real-time interactive input to the games being played.
The battery used in the SIXAXIS wireless controller is a 3.7V, 610mAH Lithium-Ion-Polymer
type and is charged by plugging the unit into the front of the PS3 console. The
controllers can hold a charge for a charge for a substantial amount of time based
on our experience. While some have mentioned that replacing the battery is difficult,
we found that it to be a relatively easy job if you are handy with portable electronics.
Realigning the trigger button was the most difficult part of the reassembly. As
with all rechargeable batteries, there will come a time when they need replacing.
LEDs numbered 1 through 4 are used to identify the controller assignment made
by the game console. The number or sum of numbers indicated by the side LEDs,
define the controller port assignment. They work well and are lightweight. Up
to seven controllers are supported by the PS3. Pressing and holding the PLAYSTATION
button shows the controller assignment on the screen along with the battery level.
The user has the option of turning off the controller or the PS3 console from
this menu. The quantization levels for the analog joy sticks have been increased
from 8-bits to 10-bits with this new controller design. That is four times the
number of conversion levels for finer control while playing games.
had a few games on hand for testing out the PS3 and one of my favorite was the
Formula-1 Championship Edition racing that immerses you into a competition
with aggressive drivers. The smooth graphics is nothing short of amazing and the
multi-channel audio contributes to the realism. Even beginners can get into the
race with all the stability options in place. However, those who want a more realistic
environment can turn off the auto-stability options and find out the real hazards
of driving at high speeds. We took the game a step further by connecting the Logitech
G25 steering wheel which also includes a shifter and 3 pedals (accelerator,
clutch and brake) on the floor. Now driving your Formula-One racecar offers a
whole new level of excitement. This games is rated E for everyone.
Processing full 1080p graphics 60 times a second requires
significantly faster processing power compared to the lower resolution gaming
consoles. This is where the PS3 gains a significant advantage over its rivals.
New games such as NBA07
produces such incredible resolution with smooth motion on the screen that it looks
like a real game at first glance even on our 100-inch Stewart filmscreen. This
is the first sports game to run in 1080p/60 with amazing realism. The SIXAXIS
wireless controller worked well with the game and can take advantage of jukes,
crossovers and spin moves using the motion sensing capabilities. NBA07 supports
up to 4 players (2 online). Another new game to recently support 1080p is MLB07
The Show. Like Formula-1, these games are rated E for everyone.
was certainly thinking ahead when they developed the PS3 console and they knew
that a good number of users would also want to control their Blu-ray movies with
a conventional DVD remote. After all, using the game controller just doesn't seem
right when watching movies, so we were quick to buy the standard Bluetooth remote.
The user will be required to manually connect the Bluetooth remote through the
PS3 interface. The good news is that this Bluetooth remote works very well and
looks and feels like any other Sony DVD remote with additional features for the
game console. The bad news (might be good news for some) is the remote does not
use IR to control the console, but instead uses advanced wireless Bluetooth to
communicate. Unfortunately, this wireless interface prevents users from using
universal IR remotes with the PS3. We currently have an RTI controller that we
cannot use with the PS3. However, it is not such a bad compromise as I do like
the Sony remote. Like most of the Sony remotes that I have in my remote bin, this
one does not offer any backlighting, so using it in a poorly lit room may be challenging.
Large buttons for commonly used functions (Play, Stop and Pause) are useful with
this design. Control of the PS3 is excellent and very reliable since there is
no line-of-sight requirement to the console.
Blu-ray players are still a significant cost in today's home theater
systems. Much of the excitement that surrounded the PS3 was its ability to also
play Blu-ray movies. After all, a high performance game console with a built-in
Blu-ray player all for under $600 just seems like such a great deal. One might
expect video performance to be lacking in the PS3, but this is just not the case.
Video performance was excellent and it is one of the best attributes of the PS3
as far as we are concerned. All of our tests were performed using the HDMI output
on a 1080p projector, so the video never had to be converted to the analog domain
before reaching the projector. Blu-ray is a great high definition format and the
video quality offered on this console is second to none in full 1080p. We had
several movies that we watched using the PS3 and we had no performance issues.
has recently released firmware v1.80 which offers significant improvements in
a number of areas. We downloaded and programmed this latest version into our PS3
and confirmed that movies such as Crash and Black Hawk Down are
now being played back and displayed in full 1080p/24 (confirmed by our Mitsubishi
HC5000 projector). This is exciting news for those with displays capable of handling
1080p/24. The latest firmware update also upscales standard DVD movies to 1080p/60
and the results look fantastic based on our setup. Sony has been really good about
providing their PS3 customers with enhanced features for their PlayStation3 and
performing the firmware updates is incredibly easy using the user interface with
an ethernet connection. Receiving these new features almost feels like a getting
new player without the hassle of installing it.
The PS3 is an amazing product both in terms of performance as well as flexibility.
The unit is far more than a game console, it is a full media server with interfaces
designed for streaming both audio and video content. The PS3 offers customers
advanced gaming capabilities with incredible speed and graphics and includes a
state-of-the-art Blu-ray movie player. The performance of the PS3 sets it apart
from the competition in this regard and the ease of updating the firmware is a
huge advantage. We have already updated our player at least four times with the
latest being the most dramatic change and greatest benefit for us Blu-ray fans.
The PS3 does not come with an HDMI cable, nor does the included analog cables
support high quality video displays. It does come with a standard A/V cable set
that will work with virtually all displays, new and old. However, if you want
quality video, you must get an HDMI cable or at least a component video cable
assuming your display supports it.
though games are secondary to our attraction to the PS3, it will remain an important
part of our home entertainment system with its Blu-ray performance. For under
$600, we now have a full media server, Blu-ray player and an impressive game console
should we want to take a break from our busy lives.