PS3: Sharp graphics for same games

Martyn Williams wants one -- but perhaps not immediately

A lot can happen in six years. Think back to 2000: we'd just finished dealing with the Y2K bug, Intel was rolling out its Pentium 4 chip and broadband users were starting to plug in to 1M bps (bits per second) Internet access. Today processors are many times more powerful and the best broadband is a hundred times faster. Compared to all these obvious changes in IT, changes in Sony's gaming products have been happening behind the scenes ... until today! The PlayStation 2 was launched in 2000, and sales are still at respectable levels -- but a whole lot of new technology has been crammed into its successor, the PlayStation 3, which goes on sale in Japan on Saturday.

Over the past few days I've had the good fortune to enjoy some quality time with the console, first on demo machines in Sony's central Tokyo showroom and then with some launch titles at Sony's offices. While my total gaming time will quickly be overtaken by anyone who manages to snap up a console on launch day, I've come away with enough of an impression to know that I want one -- but perhaps not immediately.

The most obvious and biggest difference between the new console and its predecessor is in the graphics. The PlayStation 3 supports high-definition, which brings a new feeling to computer gaming. Well, new as long as you haven't played Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 or a PC game: They also offer HD gaming although aren't nearly as popular as Sony's PlayStation.

With HD the colors are richer, the graphics crisper and the overall experience better.

But I don't want to get too carried away. While the graphics are indeed much better, the games themselves aren't so different. Sure, there are new race tracks, characters or challenges, but you'll still end up frantically pressing buttons to steer cars around corners, cross swords with bad guys or get your golf swing just right for that hole-in-one.

In a sense it's very similar to upgrading to HDTV. You get the same shows and movies but just enjoy them more until the novelty of HD wears off and the picture quality becomes your new measure of what's "normal."

Right now I'm used to the PlayStation 2's graphics but those HD graphics will likely stick in my head and eventually push me to buy a new console -- but not immediately. While I enjoyed the new games, they're just not sufficiently different from the old ones for a casual gamer like myself to rush out and buy the PS3 on launch.

Away from games, the console offers a whole lot more than the PS2. The main menu uses Sony's cross-media bar, "XMB," which will be instantly familiar to anyone who has used the PlayStation Portable. Nestled within the menu is a Web browser that does a pretty good job of displaying Internet sites on the TV screen. Also new is function that shows when your friends are online and allows you to send them short messages, in much the same way that PC instant messaging applications do.

Plus of course there's the Blu-ray Disc player. Sony has high hopes that its inclusion in the PlayStation 3 will give the HD movie format a needed boost -- and it might just work with some users. With the console hooked up to an HDTV, why not pick up a Blu-ray Disc instead of a DVD? Unfortunately, the selection of titles available on Blu-ray Disc and the competing HD DVD format is pretty thin right now, although that could change.

Physically, it's a monster of a machine. At 5 kilograms the console is pretty heavy, perhaps heavier than you'd imagine when you see it. It's also very, very shiny: it collects fingerprints like crazy, perhaps even beating the iPod's ability to do so. Make sure you add a soft cloth to your launch day shopping list otherwise you'll be smudging and scratching it up in no time.

The gaming, network functions and Blu-ray Disc player all add up to living room fun but only if you're got an HDTV. Consumers with standard definition sets might do well to sit tight until they have a TV that does the PS3's picture quality justice, because there just doesn't seem to be enough to justify the hefty price tag if you won't be getting the full effect of the graphics.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?