Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) Product Guide

Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Play B3YOND. One of the taglines to the Playstation 3 that simply and accurately describes Sony's latest video game console. It's more than a mere videogame console. In terms of raw power and graphical capability, the Playstation 3 (or PS3) far surpasses anything else on the market today. With features that translate into near photo-realistic images (when coupled with a high-end, 1080p HDTV) and a life-like environment that reacts realistically to your actions, Sony Playstation 3 is set to be an integral component to your home-theater TV system.

In addition to upgrading the processing muscle and visual eye candy of its games, Sony has also altered the physical method by which you play their games. You still typically control Playstation 3 games using the gamepad you've grown accustomed to over the years, but Sony has added a couple of twists in the mix with the SIXAXIS and PSP integration.

The SIXAXIS wireless controller is that typical gamepad I just mentioned, but with one important new feature. Sensors built into the gamepad allow you to control the action on screen by physically moving the gamepad in 3D space. Secondly, Sony has given game developers the ability to integrate the PSP with the PS3. The PSP is Sony's mobile gaming device, and on certain games, it will be given the ability to act as a secondary controller or display. One example is using the PSP's large screen as a car's rearview mirror in racing Sims (simulations).

Like its competitors, Sony also offers multiplayer gaming and backwards compatibility with older consoles. With Sony supporting both the Playstation 1 and Playstation 2, it has a massive back catalog of games for you to enjoy right out of the box. Internet access and multiplayer gaming make a bigger impact with the Playstation 3 than ever before as well. Greatly expanding the entertainment value of the console.

While the PS3's abilities regarding video games is its main selling point, it has been created from the ground up to be the centerpiece of your living room, with playback of high-definition movies via Blu-ray Disc, standard-quality DVD movies, Audio CDs, digital files (music, video, and photos) - as well as text and video instant messaging.

Sony has quite literally created a masterpiece in engineering, that promises to combine multiple consumer electronic devices into one unit, without sacrificing the quality of any of its entertainment offerings.



Cell Broadband Engine


Ahhh, the All-Powerful Oz! Pull back the curtain on the PS3 and you'll find a gaming engine that's powered by a main Power Processing Element (PPE) and up to 8 Synergistic Processing Elements (SPE). These provide true parallel processing for Playstation 3 games.

In regular speak, the Cell Broadband Engine is 40 times faster than what runs the Playstation 2 and translates into more enemies on screen, more cunning AI (artificial intelligence), and more special effects that are more lifelike and more realistic than ever before. Specific examples you can expect to witness are individual flecks of dust in beams of light, unpredictable foes, and glass crackling and breaking in different ways based on the weight and size of the object that hit it.

On the graphics side of things, all of this power comes at a price. In order to experience the highest visual quality the PS3 can offer, you need to have an HDTV that supports at least 720p. With the possibility that 1080p games might be available soon, you may choose to wait for a 1080p HDTV screen.



SIXAXIS


The controller of the Playstation 3 looks nearly identical to that of the Playstation 2, so if you've owned or played a PS2, then you'll have no difficulty in handling the basic layout of the SIXAXIS. But if it's the same, why the new name? Well, because hiding inside the SIXAXIS are sensors that are designed to detect the movement of the device. Whether you tilt, thrust, pull, or angle the controller, in certain games this will be used to control the action on the screen.

For example, if you're flying a ship and you tilt the front of the SIXAXIS down, your vehicle will go into a nosedive. When driving, you can twist it to really hug those hairpin turns; which is all a lot more natural and intuitive than using your thumb.

The SIXAXIS is best used as a wireless controller, using Bluetooth technology to cut the cord, but a wired version is available if required. If you do go the wireless route, you'll be happy to know that you can easily recharge the controller's batteries by simply plugging the SIXAXIS into one of the 4 USB ports on the PS3.



PLAYSTATION Network


The trifecta of features that make up the PLAYSTATION Network consists of 3 integral components - online gaming, communication and shopping. This network is "always on" so you can quickly access its features, and Sony can easily update your system or games with the latest updates and patches. The Playstation 3 offers you two ways to connect to the PLAYSTATION Network over your home's internet connection. You can use a standard Ethernet cable or go wireless via 802.11b/g.

Online Gaming

If there's anything better than besting the impressive AI the PS3 can deliver, it's crushing another real-life, flesh and blood human being online - or human beings. Some games will support up to 40 simultaneous players!

When supported by certain games, multiplayer on the PS3 is absolutely FREE! Just create your unique PLAYSTATION Network ID and you're ready to go.

Communication

Speaking of that unique network ID, you can use that to text message other PS3 owners or chat via voice with an optional headset. You can even do video messaging/chatting, provided you pick up the optional Eye Toy camera.

Internet browsing is achieved with the PS3's built-in browser, and up to 6 browser windows can be opened simultaneously.

Shopping at PLAYSTATION Store

From demos to full-fledged games, here's a list of what you'll find when you walk down the virtual aisles of the PLAYSTATION Store:

  • Add-ons to your already purchased disc-based games, such as new maps, levels, weapons and items.
  • Unique games for the Playstation 3 that are available exclusively through the PLAYSTATION Store.
  • Free game demos so you can try before you buy!
  • PS One classic games that you can transfer and play on your (optional) PSP. You will have to have firmware 3.0 or higher for this to work though.
  • High-Definition movie trailers.
  • Game Trailers.


Blu-ray


Blu-ray is one of two next-generation media formats that are being used to provide high-definition movies for the home, and it's the media format and player of choice in the Sony Playstation 3. Blu-ray supports the best resolution possible for a home theater at 1080p, as well as support for 7.1 surround sound speaker systems. If you enjoy watching DVDs, then you'll be utterly amazed at the quality Blu-ray has to offer.

On the gaming side of things, the fact that Blu-ray can hold 50GB of data (over 5x that of the largest DVD discs) means that game developers have room to create robust and realistic games that take full advantage of the PS3's impressive hardware.



Multimedia


The Playstation 3 also supports the playback of nearly every other kind of media format available today. It can play DVD movies, audio CDs, and digital media - consisting of photos, video and music. You can even copy digital media files from CD, DVD or flash memory to the built-in hard drive.



Which Playstation 3 is Right for You?


The Playstation 3 comes in two different configurations, based on the storage capacity of the built-in hard drive. One version has a 40GB capacity while the other has 80GB. The hard drive is used for saving game data and anything you purchase at the Playstation Store, or add yourself.

Aside from the size of the hard drive, the differences between the two versions are as follows:

40GB:

No Playstation 2 Backwards Compatibility (it does have limited Playstation 1 backwards compatibility), No Flash Memory Card Slots, 2 USB 2.0 ports, and No SACD support

80GB:

Playstation 2 Backwards Compatibility via software emulation (not all PS1 & PS2 titles are supported), Compact Flash, Secure Digital (SD), Memory Stick Duo memory card slots, 4 USB 2.0 ports, and SACD Support



Conclusion


The 80GB version of the Playstation 3 makes the most sense for avid gamers. The drive has double the storage, the memory card slot provides even greater flexibility, and it's the only model with backwards compatibility with older Playstation 1 and 2 titles. In the long run, it's the better value.

The 40GB version is perfect for casual gamers who are less concerned with bells and whistles, and are purely interested in the next generation of gaming.

Sony continuously offers software updates from the Playstation Network Internet site to keep your PS3 current and ready for the latest technologies. The Playstation 3 is the perfect console if you're looking for an evolving game system that aims toward, and is ready for the newest, emerging technologies in home entertainment.





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