First Look: Sony's PlayStation 2

Sparks fly when a car's undercarriage scrapes the concrete. Strands of a character's hair blow in the wind. Sun reflects off glass. Water ripples. Shadows fall. A train passes over the bridge ahead. And a picture of Mr. T hangs in a hallway (really).

There's plenty of talk, but very few details, about what the PlayStation 2 could become: an Internet appliance, a broadband entertainment center, maybe even a hot plate if the processor runs as warm as rumored (our unit seemed to stay relatively cool).

But with the Japanese release just over a week old, and the United States debut still months away, PC replacement talk (for a machine that lacks a basic modem) is premature.

Here's what the PlayStation 2 is today: an incredible game console that also plays DVD-Video discs and audio CDs.

Breaking the Seal

We get pretty blasé about computers here at PC World, but the PlayStation 2 drew onlookers like free food. We spent about $800 (U.S.) to have an associate in Japan pick up, via auction, the main system (which includes one Dual Shock 2 controller and one 8MB memory card), an additional Dual Shock 2 controller, two games (Ridge Racer V and Street Fighter EX3), and a Japanese DVD version of the movie Armageddon.

We grabbed a television and proceeded quickly with the setup, plugging in the power cord and running a cable from the unit to the television's video/audio inputs--that was it. The unit is smaller than I imagined: It's about the size of a two-slice toaster flipped on its side, and it fit nicely in my in-box. It looks pretty sleek. It sits horizontally or vertically, although the vertical position might not be stable enough for homes with small children or overexcited gamers. A ridge along the bottom of the drive drawer accommodates vertical loading of discs.

Cool hardware details include two USB ports and an I.Link (IEEE 1394) port up front, along with the memory card slots and the reset and eject buttons. In back is a PC Card slot (for a future hard drive, and maybe more), a power switch, and a big, quiet fan to keep that high-revving Emotion Engine CPU cool. The Dual Shock 2 controllers offer pressure-sensitive control, force-feedback, and nice long cords.

Unfortunately, the PlayStation 2 has only two controller ports; to add more you'll need to buy an accessory or sacrifice USB ports. If Sony's plan to link the PlayStation 2 to the Internet comes to pass, a keyboard and mouse may occupy those USB ports. USB lets you daisy-chain devices, but why make playing a four-player game so complicated?

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Mainelli

PC World
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

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.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?