by Dark Watcher
Back in the 1990s nobody expected an electronics company to emerge as a dominant force in the console gaming industry. The
original PlayStation helped bring three dimensional (3D) CD quality gaming to the next level. Their successor, the PlayStation
2, brought multiprocessing DVD quality gaming with backward compatibility. It was only a matter of time before Sony made the
next generation step and debuted the PlayStation 3.
The PlayStation 3 offered even more multiprocessing goodness with its heart "Cell". This processor was the joint creation of Sony, Toshiba and IBM. If anything, the "Cell" processor had the technical specs 'on paper' that would make computer systems of its time reboot in shame. Sony had also partnered up with graphics chipmaker, nVidia (formally the chipmaker for the Xbox GPU), to add the RSX graphics processor (and some middleware tools) to the PlayStation 3. The PlayStation 3 initially shipped with two versions, with both retaining complete backward compatibility for both PSOne and PlayStation 2 games.
Both versions featured a high capacity Blu-ray BD-ROM, have a detachable HDD storage device (either 20 GB and 60 GB), can use
up to 7 Bluetooth 2.0 wireless controllers (or for use with other BlueTooth devices). They also feature Ethernet ports, an HDMI
high def graphics port and 4 USB 2.0 ports for upgrades. The higher priced 60 GB version has additional features such as Wi-Fi
support, and slots for SD / Memory Stick Duo / Compact Flash.
The PS3 controllers were initially shown in a boomerang shape, but were changed back to their popular DualShock design. The new controller called Sixaxis has improvements over the DualShock. The shape of L2/R2 buttons had been enlarged with increased depth in stroke. The tilting angle of the analog joy sticks were slightly broadened and precision information detection (L2/R2, analog joy stick) have been increased from 8 bit to 10 bit. The biggest change was the added motion-sensing technology. The controller can sense 6 degrees of movement to include roll, pitch and yaw, and "3-dimension acceleration information". However, the force feedback (rumble) feature had been removed.
The PlayStation 3 also features multimedia capabilities like video chat, Internet web browsing, digital photo viewing, digital audio
and video and a similar gaming service to rival Xbox Live. The service called PLAYSTATION Network is free for users (unlike Xbox
Live), but allows game developers to charge service fees. There is also the PLAYSTATION Store available to purchase downloadable
games, game enhancements, preview movie trailers, etc. The PlayStation 3 is compatible with CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD, DVD-ROM, DVD-R,
DVD+R formats. It can also interface with their Sony PSP handheld and uses a firmware update feature for internal software
updates. For example a firmware update added DVD upscaling and graphic enhancements for PSOne / PS2 games.
The PlayStation 3 was released in Japan on November 10th of 2006 with an initial price tag of 59,980 (Japanese Yen) for the 20 GB model and an open retailer tag for the 60GB (some retailed for 71,800 JY, or 75,390 JY). Japan would later drop the price to 49,980 JY for the cheaper model shortly after the release. The PS3 was released in the US mere days later (Nov 17th) with price tags of $499 and $599 respectively. The European launch was set on March 2007.
The European PS3 console did not feature the Emotion Engine chip that gave the PS3 backwards compatibility. Instead Sony opted for a software solution. This limited the backwards compatibility for the console and required the use of firmware updates to make games more compatible (Similar to the Xbox 360). Sony would then discontinue the lower cost 20 GB PS3. In July of 2007, Sony announced the US release of an 80 GB model for $599 and a price drop for the 60 GB model to $499. The 80 GB model uses a software solution similar to the European consoles.
The PlayStation is an impressive console that will only get better as software developers learn to use its multiprocessing structure.
Its design blurs the lines even further in terms of multimedia entertainment. Its the second major entry to the 7th Generation
of videogame consoles.
FACT: The release of the PS3 was very similar to its predecessor. Console shortages, outrageous online auction sales, violence and theft seemed to match the PlayStation 2's initial debut.
by Dark Watcher
In the midst of success and hype from its predecessors comes the 7th Generation console entry PlayStation 3. Sony's overly
glossy gaming beast had managed to get the Dark Watcher to fork up some serious cash (something that is not an easy feat for we are
truly the cheapskate). As most of you know, DW does not buy into hype. The reasoning behind our purchase was based on logical
reasoning involving the predicted victory of Blu-ray, the safety of backwards compatibility, HDMI output and a few other variables
(like a decent tax refund). This console review is based on the original 60 GB PlayStation 3 SKU with hardware compatibility
with PSOne and 2 games. So keep in mind that some features mentioned are not available to other models.
As far as console design, the developers must have been smoking something for Glaucoma. Many of you have already seen the jokes noting the resemblance to the George Foreman grill. What's more is that the PS3's exterior is glossy enough to make us afraid to touch it. The folks over at CSI forensics would have no problem finding our prints on it.
The console also beat out the
original Xbox in both size and weight (something that was ironically the butt of jokes in the last console generation). However,
Sony's shiny beast is still built for function. Cabling and ports are easily accessible. The soft touch power button, slot
loading disc drive, built-in power supply and cooling fans work very well. Like its predecessor, the PS3 can also be stood up on
its side. In terms of durability, the PS3 seems built to endure. The casing has a durable feel, expels heat well and is
easy to keep clean. However, due to its sheer weight, we cannot be certain if it can survive a harsh drop. Considering its size,
the PS3 is packaged quite well. The box even has a handle to lug it around like a suitcase.
We have always been a fan of the layout and ergonomic feel of the original DualShock controller. A wireless Bluetooth version with analog trigger buttons made us all the more a fan. The controllers can be charged during game play with an included USB cable and last quite long during wireless game play. The controllers center jeweled "PS" button also allows you to turn the system on / off (or control other menu functions). Controllers were easily synced to the console and we have yet to experience any wireless lag. Our PS3 SKU shipped with the original Sixaxis controller. It works well, but feels hollow and cheap. The DualShock 3 is truly the real controller to use (with rumble). The only gripe we do have is that the controllers will not charge when the PS3 is turned off. Luckily, the controllers will charge off any USB source (thus the USB port on our cable box has become useful).
The PlayStation 3 was designed to be a multimedia centerpiece. So it should come as no surprise that the console excels in both graphics and audio. We are not going to go into polygon counts, shaders, or the like. You can check all of the technical aspects in the Specs & Manuals section. All you need to know is that PS3 puts out amazing high definition graphics for games and movies and it can only get better as game developers learn its capabilities. For audio, the PS3 handles current generation Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD, but we do just fine with our 5.1 surround sound system. The PS3 does an amazing job upscaling graphics on PSOne, PlayStation 2 (If you have the capability) and standard DVD movies.
|It becomes blatantly obvious that the father of PlayStation, Ken Kutaragi, was trying to create some sort of new computer / multimedia system. The PlayStation stretches console innovation by making it do it all. In terms of media, the PS3 plays virtually all optical audio / video formats (with the exclusion of HD-DVD), PlayStation 1 & 2 games (depending on your model), play downloadable games, access the internet, play audio / video formats that can be placed on flash memory or downloaded, blah blah blah. Put simply, if your computer can do it the PS3 can do it. It can even run applications if you have another OS installed...yes you heard right. The PS3 also allows you to install another operating system. Even in terms of hardware, the PS3 recognizes external USB hard drives, USB devices, syncs with Bluetooth devices, easily connects to wireless networks and uses firmware updates to add more functionality. Heck, Sony even allows you to change the PS3's hard drive to sizes up to 250 GB (possibly more). Sony has even included a unique "Remote Play" feature that syncs your PS3 and Sony PSP devices. This allows you the ability to remotely access (cabled or Wi-Fi) your PS3 and play stored media (music, videos, PSOne games) as if it were a FTP server.|
|For all its features, the PlayStation 3 is still marketed as a gaming console. So in terms of gaming... Its gaming library continues to grow with varied genres in both Blu-ray and downloadable formats. A large catalog of PSOne (and PS2 titles with the appropriate SKU / model) games are also available. There is a ton of value to be had by owning a PlayStation 3. The trouble is getting past the cost. Newer SKU's put out by Sony have dropped the price and still offer nearly all of the features mentioned. The PS3 is truly an investment, but we have been pleased with our choice.|
Sony's third entry into the console market, the monolithic PlayStation 3, is a technological marvel. Sony managed to squeeze
nearly every popular media option into one rather large, but user friendly unit which places the console squarely in the middle of the
modern home entertainment center.
Even before we look at the games, consider that the PS3 is currently being used as THE reference Blu-ray player by most major home theater sites and many enthusiasts. The Cell processor allows for nearly unlimited power when compared to other, more mainstream players and the frequent and easy to install updates have kept it on the leading edge of Blu-ray capabilities. If you haven't experienced a movie in Blu-ray, it's a sight to behold!
However, this is a double edged sword for Sony. While having the ability to play the latest media format certainly helps move units to non-gamers (and helped to solidify Blu-ray's dominance of the current media war), a large number of units are being sold to users that are not buying games.
What this means for Sony is that they are not making the money back on game sales and given the rather large losses they have been
taking on hardware sales, many features have been scaled back to cut costs. This leads to a lot of questions by interested
buyers about which version is right for them. Fortunately, we have compiled a comparison chart to help out with this in the Models section.
Now, cutting to the meat of why we are here, many of the games on the PS3 are nothing short of amazing. The PS3 is clearly the most powerful console of its generation and a number of the games show this off with amazing graphics and sounds. Look to the platform exclusives, such as Gran Turismo or Metal Gear Solid 4, to see this console really shine. The PS3 is also home to some of the more unique games available such as The Eye of Judgment and one of my favorites, Time Crisis 4 (but I am a sucker for oddball software). There are also a large number of very promising games on the horizon and we are early enough in the life of the console that I expect to see many must have titles available.
Even as impressive as the PS3 is, it's hard for me to recommend it to someone that already owns an Xbox 360 unless they are interested in the exclusive releases as the cross platform games are very similar on both consoles. But if you don't own either one, it's a very tight race and you will likely be pleased with a PS3. Currently, the 360 has the edge in the on-line world, but Sony is rapidly catching up and the promise of free on-line play may be enough to tip the scales in Sony's favor. If you are looking for a centralized media solution with exceptional movie playback capabilities that also happens to play games, the PS3 is the way to go!