Sony PlayStation 3
- Great graphics, Included Blu-Ray Drive, Enjoyable games
- Menu unintuitive in places, Cost
While it will take a swipe at your bank balance, Sony's Playstation 3 is definitely a powerful machine. Offering incredible graphics and the added bonus of a Blu-Ray drive, it is a great console to complete your high definition lounge room setup.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
If you're lucky enough to score a PS3, make sure that you come home with all of the cables you'll need. To fully experience the console's graphics capabilities -- that is, to play supported games or to watch Blu-ray movies in 1080p high-definition -- you'll have to purchase your own HDMI cable (and own an HDCP-compliant 1080p television). Two extras that you might consider buying are Sony's proprietary component video output cable and the optical digital audio cable required for 7.1-channel audio. For optimum Blu-ray or DVD movie playback, you could also spring for the optional US$25 remote control.
The standard package includes basic cords: a USB mini cable for the bundled Bluetooth wireless controller, an ethernet cable, a multi audio/video cable with composite connections, and an AC power cord (the PS3 uses a standard cord, unlike the external power brick used by the Wii and the Xbox 360).
Most new PS3 owners will fire up the console without looking at the manual -- and they probably won't run into any trouble. It's just that easy to hook up. In case you feel like doing some tech reading before you go shopping, GamePro has scanned the PS3 manual to make it available for the geeky perusal of all.
Once turned on, the PS3 will ask you to choose a language and a time zone, and set the time/date. You then create a user account, sign in, and are presented with a navigation interface that Sony calls the Xross Media Bar (XMB), which closely resembles the interface employed by Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld.
My first priority was to properly configure the high-definition output. I accomplished this by navigating to the video settings and changing the unit's output to 1080p over HDMI. The difference was as if I had switched my computer monitor from 640 by 480 (480p) to 1920 by 1080 (1080p high definition).
I produce music when I'm not working at PC World, and I couldn't wait to hear what the PlayStation 3 audio sounded like through my pair of high-quality music production monitors. I attached the audio connections on the supplied composite multi audio/video cable to my speakers, and set the PS3 to send audio over that route (while still transmitting video via HDMI). The result: Easy setup and great sound.
In the PS3's system settings, I noticed that my new unit's hard disk had 52GB of its 60GB total available, and that the operating system was version 1.00. Not for long, though. The first game I loaded -- NBA 07 -- included the 1.02 system update and installed it before I could begin playing. Though the installation took only a few minutes, having to wait at all was still a little frustrating. The PS3 manual says that some games have their required updates built-in to help you avoid having to patch via the Internet.
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