8 things every PlayStation 3 owner should know

The PlayStation 3 is the most powerful, versatile gaming console ever made. But to tap into all that power, read our helpful quick reference guide.

The PlayStation 3 has every possible feature a gamer (or home theater enthusiast) could want. If you're thinking about buying a PlayStation 3, read on for important caveats and helpful hints.

- Not every PS3 is backwards compatible! Though all of the PlayStation 3 models will play original PlayStation games, PlayStation 2 support is reserved for the 20GB, 60GB and 80GB models released in 2006 and 2007 (the 80GB Metal Gear Solid 4 bundle also works) What won't play PS2 games? The 40GB model and the 80GB model (late 2008 version). Sony is suspending all PS2 compatibility on the PS3 moving forward, so if PS2 support is something you want, pick up an older 60GB or 80GB PS3 soon or risk losing the chance forever!

And if you want to keep your old PS2 and PS1 save files, you'll need to buy an inexpensive adapter that will allow you to dump your old PS1/PS2 data into your PS3's USB port. All new save files will go straight to your PS3 hard drive, so you won't need to keep the old memory cards.

- Expand your hard drive! The PlayStation 3's hard drive comes in several sizes ranging from 40GB to 80GB. This may seem like a lot of space, but remember that some PS3 games have to be installed onto your hard drive before you can play them. It's also tempting to load the hard drive with MP3s and DiVX movies, gobbling up even more space. If you run low on space, try deleting old downloaded game demos or videos you don't want. You could always back these up first, if you want, by connecting a USB hard drive and selecting "Backup" in your PS3's System menu.

The preferred option is to swap out your stock PS3 hard drive for a much larger one so you don't have to worry about freeing up space. The PS3 is compatible with almost any 2.5'' laptop hard drive that uses the SATA interface - these hard drives are widely available on Amazon or your local Best Buy. Best of all, they're fairly cheap; a new 160GB drive will cost you roughly US$70. For full details on how to install a new PS3 hard drive (hint: it's easy!), read this installation guide.

- Blu-Ray is unbeatable. The PS3 can play high-definition Blu-Ray movies, many of which look stunning when viewed in 1080p mode on an HD TV. PS3 games also come on Blu-ray discs, which will begin to be a major factor in 2009 and 2010 as game developers learn to tap into that massive storage space. The result will be bigger, deeper, more content-rich games that fit onto one disc, or a full-length film on the same disc as a game. And for HD film-viewing, Blu-ray is king -- look into buying one of Sony's Bluetooth Remote Controls for easy (and inexpensive) movie watching.

- High definition domination. The PS3 is widely regarded as having the best high-definition performance of any game console. If you use a digital HDMI cable and a native 1080p HDTV, you'll see the crispest, clearest video possible. This is ideal for Blu-ray movies, PS3 games, or even upsampling PS2 games and DVDs to look their best. If you're an HD entertainment buff, the PS3 is the machine for you.

- Remote Play! If you own a PSP, aka the PlayStation Portable, you can connect it to your PS3 via a USB cable. This will register the handheld and allow you to download PSP games (Super Stardust Portable, EchoChrome for example) and media to your PSP wirelessly through the PS3's Remote Play feature. You'll even be able to browse your PS3's media library from the road, as well as stream PlayStation 1 game discs from the comfort of your PSP.

- Keep it updated. If you keep your PS3 connected to the internet, it will regularly download system updates. With these updates, you'll get new features to enhance your gaming experience, everything from game fixes to helpful new hardware settings to game-enhancing features such as collectible Trophies -- even Google search support for the PS3's internet browser.

Prior PS3 updates have added major new features for Blu-ray, custom soundtracks, and the ability to access the Cross Media Bar from within a game. Even if you don't play online, you'll want to snag any and all of these updates - you can even download an update on your PC and transfer it to your PS3 via the USB ports. Sony's made it clear that the PS3 is an evolving platform, so expect to see plenty of new features in the future.

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