Component Reviews

Sony PS3 PlayStation 3 Advanced Gaming Console, 60GB

Even though games are secondary to our attraction to the PS3, it will remain an important part of our home entertainment system with its Blu-ray performance

Published on June 19, 2007

Sony PS3 PlayStation 3 Advanced Gaming Console, 60GB
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Few product have caused such a stir as the highly-anticipated Sony PLAYSTATION®3. The game consoles were being sold for several times the retail price when initially released and many potential customers waited in long lines, sometimes overnight to get a chance to buy the new units. Even more surprising was the average age of these gamers. It became obvious that many of the buyers were in their 30′s and 40′s. After all, how many teenagers could afford to dole out $500 or $600 for a game console. It all happened on November 17, 2006, when Sony released their most advanced PLAYSTATION which was created with a variety of cutting-edge technologies. At the heart of the unit were the all-new Cell and RSX™ processors along with a Gigabit Ethernet interface and Blu-ray disc drive. Customers with conventional NTSC/PAL televisions as well as those with the latest Full-HD (1080p) displays could take advantage of the stellar processing capabilities offered in the new PS3. The elegant look of the PS3 with its curvy architecture easily fits in with much more expensive components and is a nice addition to a stylish home theater system. The 60GB PS3 includes a standard A/V cable, USB cable with the wireless controller, ethernet cable and a power cord. As it turns out, Sony has abandoned the less expensive PS3 offering, which offered a smaller 20GB hard drive and no Wi-Fi. It is a move that made sense since most of the units being sold were the more expensive model.

Our media room is designed primarily for home theater and the addition of the Sony PLAYSTATION®3 adds a whole new dimension to our environment. Our projector is a Mitsubishi HC5000 offering Full-HD 1080p projected on our 100-inch 16:9 Stewart FireHawk filmscreen. Full 1080p requires a whole lot of video bandwidth so a quality HDMI cable will be required for long video runs. Cables such as the VizionWare Hi-Wirez or the Accell UltraRun worked great in our setup without introducing visible artifacts at 1080p.

The top of the PS3 has touch sensitive buttons for power and disc eject. The red standby light turns blue when the unit is turned on. The front of the PS3 has four USB inputs for controllers or other input devices such as the Logitech G25 Steering Wheel System. The SIXAXIS wireless controller included with the unit charges itself through this interface. The front side cover has slots for various memory devices including Memory Stick Duo™, SD/Mini SD, and CompactFlash. The user interface makes it easy to access the contents of the memory device plugged into the console.

Rear Panel
The rear panel of the PS3

has an array of
interconnects for video,
audio and networking.
The HDMI output is essential for high-definition content and is fully compliant with HDCP content protection when connected to a compatible display. The wired ethernet connection worked well for us and was our link to the Sony server from which we received our occasional firmware updates. Our 60GB unit also has Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11 b/g) built-in, but we used the wired connection. Digital audio exited from the PS3 via a toslink connection and fed our Parasound processor for full 5.1 digital audio. Sony provides a cable for the A/V Multi-out interface with standard A/V outputs used on older televisions not capable of handling analog component or new digital interfaces. Optional cables are available that output s-video or component video along with the two channel audio through this connector. The unit gets quite warm with all the electronics inside, so a built-in fans keeps adequate air flowing through the unit when powered on.

A/V Cable Options
The PS3 includes several A/V cable options using the Multi-Out A/V connector on the back of the unit. Our PS3 included a standard A/V cable which includes no-frills RCA connectors with composite video and two-channel audio. This will not give you a high quality picture, so you may want to look at other options to maximize your experience depending upon your display capabilities. Sony also offers an A/V cable with an s-video output and one with full component video with audio (shown). Also, no HDMI cable is provided, so if your display has this capability you will want to get one as soon as possible to fully maximize your video experience. Users can select the output resolution of the unit starting with 480i and cranking it up all the way to 1080p. This is the first consumer product to support HDMI 1.3, so hopefully your HDMI cable is up to the task.

SIXAXIS™ Controller
The SIXAXIS™ controller is a trademark look of the PLAYSTATION consoles. These new wireless controllers have dropped the force-feedback option, most likely due to greatly reducing the battery life. The motion sensing controller is designed to provide real-time interactive input to the games being played. The battery used in the SIXAXIS wireless controller is a 3.7V, 610mAH Lithium-Ion-Polymer type and is charged by plugging the unit into the front of the PS3 console. The controllers can hold a charge for a charge for a substantial amount of time based on our experience. While some have mentioned that replacing the battery is difficult, we found that it to be a relatively easy job if you are handy with portable electronics. Realigning the trigger button was the most difficult part of the reassembly. As with all rechargeable batteries, there will come a time when they need replacing.

 Four LEDs numbered 1 through 4 are used to identify the controller assignment made by the game console. The number or sum of numbers indicated by the side LEDs, define the controller port assignment. They work well and are lightweight. Up to seven controllers are supported by the PS3. Pressing and holding the PLAYSTATION button shows the controller assignment on the screen along with the battery level. The user has the option of turning off the controller or the PS3 console from this menu. The quantization levels for the analog joy sticks have been increased from 8-bits to 10-bits with this new controller design. That is four times the number of conversion levels for finer control while playing games.

F-1 Racing                
We had a few games on hand for testing out the PS3 and one of my favorite was the Formula-1 Championship Edition racing that immerses you into a competition with aggressive drivers. The smooth graphics is nothing short of amazing and the multi-channel audio contributes to the realism. Even beginners can get into the race with all the stability options in place. However, those who want a more realistic environment can turn off the auto-stability options and find out the real hazards of driving at high speeds. We took the game a step further by connecting the Logitech G25 steering wheel which also includes a shifter and 3 pedals (accelerator, clutch and brake) on the floor. Now driving your Formula-One racecar offers a whole new level of excitement. This games is rated E for everyone.

Full 1080p Gaming
Processing full 1080p graphics 60 times a second requires significantly faster processing power compared to the lower resolution gaming consoles. This is where the PS3 gains a significant advantage over its rivals. New games such as NBA07 produces such incredible resolution with smooth motion on the screen that it looks like a real game at first glance even on our 100-inch Stewart filmscreen. This is the first sports game to run in 1080p/60 with amazing realism. The SIXAXIS wireless controller worked well with the game and can take advantage of jukes, crossovers and spin moves using the motion sensing capabilities. NBA07 supports up to 4 players (2 online). Another new game to recently support 1080p is MLB07 The Show. Like Formula-1, these games are rated E for everyone.

PlayStation3 Blu-ray Remote
Sony was certainly thinking ahead when they developed the PS3 console and they knew that a good number of users would also want to control their Blu-ray movies with a conventional DVD remote. After all, using the game controller just doesn’t seem right when watching movies, so we were quick to buy the standard Bluetooth remote. The user will be required to manually connect the Bluetooth remote through the PS3 interface. The good news is that this Bluetooth remote works very well and looks and feels like any other Sony DVD remote with additional features for the game console. The bad news (might be good news for some) is the remote does not use IR to control the console, but instead uses advanced wireless Bluetooth to communicate. Unfortunately, this wireless interface prevents users from using universal IR remotes with the PS3. We currently have an RTI controller that we cannot use with the PS3. However, it is not such a bad compromise as I do like the Sony remote. Like most of the Sony remotes that I have in my remote bin, this one does not offer any backlighting, so using it in a poorly lit room may be challenging. Large buttons for commonly used functions (Play, Stop and Pause) are useful with this design. Control of the PS3 is excellent and very reliable since there is no line-of-sight requirement to the console.

Blu-ray Movies
Blu-ray players are still a significant cost in today’s home theater systems. Much of the excitement that surrounded the PS3 was its ability to also play Blu-ray movies. After all, a high performance game console with a built-in Blu-ray player all for under $600 just seems like such a great deal. One might expect video performance to be lacking in the PS3, but this is just not the case. Video performance was excellent and it is one of the best attributes of the PS3 as far as we are concerned. All of our tests were performed using the HDMI output on a 1080p projector, so the video never had to be converted to the analog domain before reaching the projector. Blu-ray is a great high definition format and the video quality offered on this console is second to none in full 1080p. We had several movies that we watched using the PS3 and we had no performance issues.

Sony has recently released firmware v1.80 which offers significant improvements in a number of areas. We downloaded and programmed this latest version into our PS3 and confirmed that movies such as Crash and Black Hawk Down are now being played back and displayed in full 1080p/24 (confirmed by our Mitsubishi HC5000 projector). This is exciting news for those with displays capable of handling 1080p/24. The latest firmware update also upscales standard DVD movies to 1080p/60 and the results look fantastic based on our setup. Sony has been really good about providing their PS3 customers with enhanced features for their PlayStation3 and performing the firmware updates is incredibly easy using the user interface with an ethernet connection. Receiving these new features almost feels like a getting new player without the hassle of installing it.

Conclusion
The PS3 is an amazing product both in terms of performance as well as flexibility. The unit is far more than a game console, it is a full media server with interfaces designed for streaming both audio and video content. The PS3 offers customers advanced gaming capabilities with incredible speed and graphics and includes a state-of-the-art Blu-ray movie player. The performance of the PS3 sets it apart from the competition in this regard and the ease of updating the firmware is a huge advantage. We have already updated our player at least four times with the latest being the most dramatic change and greatest benefit for us Blu-ray fans. The PS3 does not come with an HDMI cable, nor does the included analog cables support high quality video displays. It does come with a standard A/V cable set that will work with virtually all displays, new and old. However, if you want quality video, you must get an HDMI cable or at least a component video cable assuming your display supports it.

Even though games are secondary to our attraction to the PS3, it will remain an important part of our home entertainment system with its Blu-ray performance. For under $600, we now have a full media server, Blu-ray player and an impressive game console should we want to take a break from our busy lives.

- Kevin Nakano


Review System
Projector: Mitsubishi HC5000 Full 1080p High-Definition LCD Projector
Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100″ FireHawk Screen on a Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall
Video Processor/Scaler: Anchor Bay Technologies DVDO iScan HD+ A/V Processor
Preamplifier/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra DTS/DD Preamp/Processor
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Bass Management: Miller & Kreisel BMC Mini 5.1 Bass Management Controller
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Set-top Box: Dish Network ViP622 HDTV Satellite and Terrestrial Receiver with HDMI
HD-DVD Player: Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD Player with HDMI
DVD/CD/SACD Player: Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player
DVD Audio/Video Player: Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M 400-Disc DVD Changer
DVD Player: OPPO Digital OPDV971H DVD Player with DVI Output
D-VHS VCR: JVC HM-DH30000U D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
Media Server: Kenwood Sovereign MRH1 Entre
Remote Control: Remote Technologies Inc. T3 Controller
HDMI Video Switcher: Radiient Technologies Select-4 HDMI Video Switcher
HDMI Cable: VizionWare Hi-Wirez 15-meter Active 1080p Cable
HDMI Cable: Accell UltraRun 45-meter 1080p Cable
DVI Cable: AudioQuest DV-1 20m DVI-D Cable
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables


Review – At a Glance             Sony – PlayStation®3

Key Features

• The PLAYSTATION®Network provides online access for PLAYSTATION®3 users to connect their systems via existing broadband internet connections and enjoy online connectivity for games, friend lists, text and video chats, web browsing, and more
• Downloadable content offered by the PLAYSTATION®Store allows PS3™ users to add new content and features to existing games in addition to downloading brand-new exclusive PS3 titles and free demos
• Fans of classic PlayStation® titles can download a library of greatest-hit favorites to their PLAYSTATION 3 system and play by connecting their PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system
• Enjoy the latest high-definition game trailers and movie trailers by downloading from the PLAYSTATION Store and storing on the PS3 hard drive or optional memory storage devices such as MemoryStick Pro, SD card, and CompactFlash memory cards (depending on content-usage rights)
• Surf the World Wide Web from the comfort of your living room in Full HD*** with the PS3 internet browser, supporting the latest multimedia formats including Flash
• Ensure appropriate online usage for the whole family with PLAYSTATION 3system’s built-in parental controls

Specifications

Dimensions:    325mm (W) x 98mm (H) x 274mm (D)
CPU:    Cell Broadband Engine™
GPU:    RSX Processor
Main Memory:    256MB XDR Main RAM
Embedded VRAM:    256MB GDDR3 VRAM
Hard Drive Disk: :    USB 2.0 (x4), MemoryStick/SD/CompactFlash
Ethernet :   10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T
Bluetooth:    2.0 (EDR), Wireless Controller (up to 7)
Wireless Communication:    IEEE 802.11 b/g (w/60 GB HDD PS3)
Screen Size:    480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
HDMI:    HDMI out – (x1/HDMI)
Analog:     AV MUTLI OUT x1
Digital Audio:    DIGITAL OUT (OPTICAL x1)
Disc Drive:    Blu-ray/DVD/CD (read-only)

Company Information

Sony Computer Entertainment America
PO Box 5888 San Mateo, CA 94402-0888
M-SAT 6:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. PST
Sunday 7:00 a.m. 6:30 p.m
800-345-7669 (800-345-SONY)

http://www.us.playstation.com  
 
[Any comments or questions regarding the LAAF Web Site should be forwarded to webmaster@laaudiofile.com ]


[Reprinted with permission from the LA Audio File site, www.laaudiofile.com
Copyright © 1985-2006 L.A. Audio File.]




on this article to AUDIOPHILE AUDITION!

Email this page to a friend.   View a printer-friendly version of the article.


Copyright © Audiophile Audition   All rights Reserved