Review by elecman_x

"A solid multimedia machine"

Sonys jump into the next gen gaming seems to have flared up a lot of controversy since its release. Some of it can be attributed to "fanboyism", others are scared of the admittedly high price point, some was due to the lack of being truely backwards compatible, and of course, there are other reasons. I, however, am pleased with investing in the $600 PS3, and this is a summary of why that is so.
Note: This review is based purely on the console itself, and will not concern the games at all. If you want a review for a particular game, I'm sure you can find one somewhere on the internet.

Design: The console itself does weigh a considerable amount, but after seeing the video on youtube of one being taken apart, I can see why. The console does look incredibly large, part of this is due to the dome on top of the console itself. Due to this dome, it is almost impossible to stack with other multimedia devices. Standing it vertically does remedy part of this problem, and the console does actually stand properly without external means this time around, unlike its predecessor.

The buttons are very well done, responding to touch unlike traditional buttons, and are fairly responsive. Like the original PS2, there are 2 power on buttons, one on the back above the power supply, and another on the face. The face button only really works after you switch on the power supply, which is annoying, as it is misleading. Otherwise, you can turn the console on by using the controller or by hitting the eject button, which is very convenient.
Hidden away next to the disk loader is a set of card in slots, which is flipped up and can be flipped down with media in the slots. Underneath that are 4 USB ports, used for various different functions.

The console does get hot after extended play, but not nearly as much as the slimline PS2 or original PS1 does. The system does cool down extremely quickly when it is turned back off (about 5 seconds), so it shouldn't be a problem, but putting it on the carpet is not recommended.

Another "flaw" is that due to the shiny black plastic, the system attracts dust like no ones business. The plastic itself however doesnt feel cheaply made (like the wii), but it isnt as good as the matt finish of the 360. The plastic above the dome doesnt house anything but empty space, so if you drop it on the dome side, it will probably crack, but the components housed under there will probably not be affected.

Controller: The SIXAXIS is not the best controller ever made (I personally herald the Genesis 6 button pad as the best controller ever), but it does function pretty well. Its very light and durable, and feels comfortable in your hands. The "PS" button is a welcome addition, allowing you to check your battery status, turn the console on, and adjusting settings such as analog/digital in PS1/2 games, and controller IDs very smoothy.

The 2nd set of shoulder buttons are now trigger buttons, which feel very smooth when used during gameplay or DVD playback. One problem with the triggers is that because they are triggers, double tapping them requires a bit of adjustment on part of the player, but it becomes second nature after a few minutes of practice. They also seem to be extremely responsive, which can be a blessing and a curse. The motion sensing seems to be executed fairly well, although it seems that this is a software problem rather than a hardware problem. An example is that in Ridge Racer 7, shifting gears with the motion sensor requires a very violent thrust of the controller towards or away from you. Otherwise, it doesnt just feel like a tacked on novelty.

Backwards compatibility: Admittedly, the first thing I did with my PS3 was update its firmware, so I didn't really experience any kind of incompatibility with PS1/2 games. All of my PS1/2 games ran on the console just fine neither looking better or worse. For some reason, when a PS1/2 game is in the console, you must press the PS button for it to run, which is very odd.

Another oddity is that when you first start a PS1/2 game, the analog is turned off until you set it to be turned on in the PS button menu. This is probably to ensure that games that are incompatible with the analog function work on boot up, but there really should be an auto-detect function for that thing like with the PS2. Nothing major, but it does get slightly annoying.

Wireless: The wireless function of the controller is very tight, and it has a very decent range. There was only 1 instance of where my cat got in between the controller and the PS3, which blocked the signal, but that was an external problem that Sony probably didnt see coming (must make console pet compatible).

Due to a recent firmware update, you can Remote Play with the PSP if you have one, although all it allows for at the time of writing is to read the online manual and browse the PS Store through the PSP (which I could do through the PS3 faster than it takes to bounce the signal back and forth). This feature is slightly difficult to setup at first, and there is nothing that really supports it yet, but it does show promise.

Setting up the controller IDs takes no time at all (unlike most wireless devices), and I got mine set up within 5 seconds of initially powering the PS3 up. You can also register other bluetooth devices to the PS3, although there is a lack of support for bluetooth keyboards, which is extremely disappointing. With the firmware updates trickling in, one would hope that Sony has the foresight to develop that feature into the PS3, as it would make the online functions much easier. Which brings me to the next point...

PSNetwork (Or online mode): This is a coin flip of a feature. On the one side, the PSNetwork is very easy to setup, and allows for a player to set up multiple player accounts for use in games or outside of games. Theres a mailbox, block list, buddy list and the like. Some games even support use of realtime updates in game (Ridge Racer 7 scrolls online battle data along the bottom any time it is plugged into the internet for example). Firmware can also be updated this way (and support is kept for people who dont have broadband access), although it seemingly takes a long time. This is where the fun of online starts to lose its charm. The browser is easy to use, based upon the PSP browser (although its not as good). The browser does support things like flash movies and multiple tabs, which is very welcome.

On the tails side of the coin, browsing through the PS3 is rather laggy. It takes a little time to load each page, although downloaded content doesn't take nearly as long once it gets going. Also, the predictive text only supports 4 characters, so long complicated words are impossible to use with it. Also, unlike the PSP, there is no option to turn the Caps Lock without a keyboard, which can be annoying if you actually need caps to speed type using a controller.

Final: All in all, I feel like the PS3 was a worthy purchase. The games DO make the console, and admittedly, there was only 1 launch game that caught my attention (read the review and TRY and guess which one it was... hehe), but the console does show promise. Its all down to Sony not dropping the ball (which they have been known to do), but seeing as they have been dominating the console industry for over 10 years, its highly doubtful they will.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 02/27/07

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