- 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.
PlayStation online store and network
Because Sony won't fully enable the PS3's online features until the official U.S. launch on November 17, I can't yet evaluate how well they work. But that doesn't mean I don't have the latest details for you.
Sony has said that -- unlike Xbox Live -- the PlayStation Network will be a free service. You'll be able to see when friends are online in order to chat with them by video, voice, or text, or to join multiplayer games. We'd like to confirm this for ourselves, but early feedback following the Japanese launch of the PlayStation 3 is that currently users can leave only text messages for other gamers. Reports further indicate that you can't read messages while in a game; you simply get a pop-up notification. Again, we'll look into this and let you know what we find out.
Regarding the PlayStation Store, Sony has stated that it intends to offer downloadable game demos and movie trailers, and to sell retro games, episodic content, and perhaps eventually even full-length movies. Methods to pay your "electronic wallet" bill will include credit card and special PlayStation cards sold in shops. Downloadable games that Sony has developed will cost less than US$15 apiece at launch, and you can expect new titles from a range of developers to appear regularly.
So there you have it: the PlayStation 3 in a rather large nutshell. It truly is technologically superior to both the Xbox 360 and the Wii (which isn't really a direct competitor). But to succeed, Sony and its third-party partners must tap into their traditional strength of delivering compelling games for the console. The PS3 looks like an expensive box at first, but seems less so when you compare its cost to the cost of a stand-alone Blu-ray player, a high-end PC graphics card, the Xbox 360 with its HD-DVD add-on, or even a media center PC.
PC World's resident Blu-ray expert, Melissa J. Perenson, contributed to this story. And special thanks to our IDG stablemate GamePro for graciously allowing us to use their debugged PlayStation 3 until our retail unit arrived.
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