The much awaited, much anticipated release of the next generation Sony gaming system, PlayStation 3, has arrived. The overall upgrade from PlayStation 2 to 3 is significant in terms of processing, performance and design. Sony has paid close attention to what works and what doesn't work in the gaming community.
Upon taking the unit out of the box, you notice the smooth black skin finish, and sleek design. The PS3's weight is close to 11 pounds, making it heavier than the PS2. Out of the box, all necessary A/V and power connections come with the system along with a standard Bluetooth wireless PS3 controller.
The controller connects to the PS3 wirelessly and uses a USB cable to recharge its batteries. It is very similar to the PS2 in terms of look and feel, but it's significantly lighter. The reason being Sony has eliminated the Dual Shock feature from the PS3.
Inserting a disc is similar to Apple's Macintosh computers, so no traditional tray pops out rather you feed the disc into the system. There is no traditional power button, rather it's a flat surface switch which turns the unit on once it's pressed. The main PS3 navigation interface is virtually an exact replica of the PSP's interface. Called the Xross Media Bar you can easily navigate through the interface and find where all options are. You can view photos, and MPEG files that are saved to the hard drive. Hooking up the PS3 to a LAN connection enables users to browse the Internet much to the same fashion as the PSP, with Sony's Web browser.
The revolutionary Cell Broadband Engine in the PS3 can deliver smooth performance as it is able to handle a higher workload much more easily. So what does this mean? It means much smoother transitions and virtually no slow down in frame rate. With that in mind, PS3 games are far superior graphically than its PS2 predecessor, and are faster than most PC games on the market today.
Of course one of the top selling points of the unit is its Blu-ray capabilities. So what is Blu-ray? Blu-ray discs are the next leap forward in disc technology. It provides for more storage, up to 50GB, which allows it to meet the requirements of high-definition games and movies. Essentially, it's a step up from DVDs. The Blu-ray drive featured in the PS3 will also support many of the older disc formats, including CD-ROM, CDR+W, DVD, DVD-ROM, DVD-R, and DVD+R.
There are a significant number of ventilation covers on the console to provide airflow. While testing with a sample PS3 unit, we here at GameCore did not witness any heating problems as were reported on many blogs over the summer.
Let's go through some pros about this massive system. First, it's a multimedia platform, meaning it's not just for one purpose.
Unlike other gaming systems, the PS3 uses Blu-ray Disc format which allows for massive storage and pristine picture quality. If you wanted to you can use the PS3 as an ad hoc Blu-ray movie player, as more Blu-ray movies will be hitting the market in the near future.
Likewise, the PS3 boasts its ability to link up with other Sony products, namely the PSP. You can easily link your PSP into the PS3 and exploit both of their capabilities. The hardware has been streamlined much more to today's standards by incorporating four USB slots. Numerous USB-enabled devices such as a USB keyboard are supported on the PS3. Gamers can literally plug in Flash USB jump drive and put data onto their system.
Whether you have the 20GB or 60GB platform, both units allow for massive storage of media files, most of which you can literally use on your PC. Unlike Microsoft's Xbox Live, which is a paid service, Sony plans to keep its online network free.
Now let's go through some cons. The most obvious and well-publicized is the price. Unless you're willing to take out a second mortgage on your home, the PS3 isn't going to be cheap. At a retail price of $499 for the entry level 20GB system, and games now starting at $59.99, it is a substantial increase from PS2.
And to truly enjoy the PS3, an HD capable monitor (HDCP-compliant 1080p TV) would really help deliver the graphics you want. Even though there will be 21 games available at launch, most of the titles gamers haven been waiting for are delayed.
Furthermore, the PS3 is backwards compatible, but to play with existing data from PS2 and PSOne titles you have to purchase an additional memory card adapter as the PS3 does not feature original PlayStation memory card slots. Likewise, that not all PS2 and PSOne games will play properly on the PS3, only adding to the frustration of the gaming experience.
With most pre-orders gobbled up within minutes of its announcement, and only 400,000 units being available on release day in the United States, chances are most hardcore gamers will be left without a PS3. To help with demand, officials at Sony plan to ship 2 million units by March 2007.
I still don't get it, what am I paying more than $500 for?
Well, the Sony PlayStation 3 is the next generation of gaming. It's a system that can deliver updated graphics, great audio, Internet browsing capabilities, an easy interface, and much more.
The PS3 is a system that will not be obsolete 10 years down the road. The PS3 is truly an entertainment system, and not just a system that plays games. I feel that many gamers will accept the PS3 and crave its raw power. As a gamer having played the PS3, I can agree that it's worth the wait. It's just a matter of actually getting one.
To see photos from the midnight release of the Sony Playstation 3, click here