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March 26, 2007
Full PS3 Preview & Release Schedule

Click here to check out PLAYSTATION 3 LAUNCH GUIDE: THE GAMES
Click here to check out PLAYSTATION 3 LAUNCH GUIDE: THE MOVIES
Click here to check out PLAYSTATION 3 LAUNCH GUIDE: THE VERDICT PART 2

PLAYSTATION 3 LAUNCH:
THE VERDICT ~ PART 1

INTRODUCTION

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The boxed system, Virtua Fighter 5 and Mad Katz Controller.
Friday March 23rd, 8.30am. Pretty much as soon as the doors opened I walked into my local BIG W store at Runaway Bay and picked up my pre-ordered PS3 as well as the free Mad Katz controller, copy of Virtua Fighter 5 and $50 voucher as a part of a bundle deal. The store only had two pre-orders, and apparently around 14 units left in stock - any fears of a sell out didn't even come close to fruition. Still, I wasn't going to take any chances.

The Playstation 3 has been touted as the ultimate in home entertainment - not just a gaming system, but also a media center for your living room. Indeed the ability for the system to play back movies on Blu-Ray discs was controversial - not only did it add considerable cost to the system but was also the main cause for production delays and short supply of the system around the globe. Now that we've had the system for a grand total of three days we thought we'd give you our impressions of the system and some of the key components.

UNBOXING THE SYSTEM

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Size wise, the PS3 is much bigger then original PS2.
The first thing you notice about the Playstation 3 box when you pick it up from the store is just how heavy the thing is. In fact, when we got back here we weighed the box with all its contents - 6.8kg! Without all the cables, manuals and packaging the main PS3 unit weighs around a hefty 6kg - now that's big! What must be remembered though is that unlike the XBox 360 the power supply is housed internally in the unit. Upon opening the box you will notice there's quite a few bits to take out of the neatly packed box. As well as the main console unit the box contains a plastic bag with manuals, a power cable, an ethernet cable, a USB cable to charge the controller and a Composite lead for connection to the TV (although we definitely recommend upgrading to HDMI, Component or (worst case) S-Video as soon as possible).

Unlike America where the first system owners received a copy of Talladega Nights on Blu-Ray in the box (an which by many accounts is a less the shining showcase for the format), Australians and Europeans need to register their systems online in order to receive a copy of Casino Royale on Blu-Ray. It would have been nice to have it in the box on day one, however I would rather wait a couple of weeks until its release (with the Australian shipment expected to be sent out from April 11) then receive a sub-par movie. Now, in terms of registering we, like many other people are confused. We pre-registered our Playstation Network username weeks ago and signed on successully with our PS3, however we then checked the manuals which had a card saying you need to register the system - with the serial number - online at a different site. To be sure we get our copy of Casino Royale, we did that as well, and suggest you so as well.

CONNECTING THE SYSTEM

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The box contents (except main system obviously!).
Connecting the PS3 is dead easy. After unboxing the unit and placing it in it's home to be I connected up the Power (through a Monster Power board to protect it from power surges), a HDMI cable to the TV for video, and Optical cable to the decoder/amplified for audio and the Ethernet cable for Internet Connectivity. After they were all connected up it was time for powering the beast up.

So the power button, touch sensitive and super slick. The system starts up within moments to a lovely orchestral sound. The system prompts for a couple of initial details - creating a profile for the system so you can have multiple users, setting the date and time and selecting your location. The interface is the same Cross Media Bar we've seen on the PSP. It's easy to navigate and even if you don't have a PSP it won't take long to get the hang of navigating around the Cross Media Bar.

As you have probably seen from the screenshots the PS3 has a slot drive, no dodgy drink coaster popout tray here. The on/off and eject buttons are touch sensitive giving the console a very stylish finish. While you can turn the console on and off with the button on the main unit this can also be achieved via the Sixaxis' Playstation button in the middle of the unit. The front of the unit has three lights. Two on the right side indicate power (on is green, off is red) while the second blue light indicates if there is a disc in the unit. A third light is located near the USB slots and shines orange when the PS3 is reading the hard drive.

SYSTEM UPDATE (FIRMWARE 1.60)

The system update to version 1.60 was a breeze. Initially we thought it would take a considerable amount of time. We had spoken to people the night before launch who aquired their systems early (from Sony, or by working in stores) and they said it was taking about 20 minutes for the system update. My guess was that on launch day I could be sitting around for an hour. Indeed I was sitting around, but between downloading the (approximately 100MB) update and installing it it was just under 10 minutes! Sony's servers are fast (in fact we've been looking at download speeds over the three days and they have been well over 600kb per second on our Internet connection).

As we detailed on the news page on March 22, the key features in this update include Background Downloading, Backwards Compatibility with PSOne and PS2 games, Enabling Disc Auto-Start, Auto-detecting HDMI connection, Precision Zoom for Browser, Folding@Home (more on that soon) and a host of smaller improvements.

BROWSING THE INTERNET

Unlike the XBox 360 the Playstation 3 has a web browser built into the system. This custom browser seems fairly robust too. We've looked at numerous web sites with very few problems (and yes, Futuregamez.net is viewable despite some small formatting issues). One of the disappointments we have with the browser though is - unless we are going crazy - an inability to save files directly to the PS3 Hard Drive or other storage device.

The Cross Media Bar and Internet connectivity also allows you to access Online Manuals for the system. With the system set to be updated on a regular basis due to the Firmware updates this is necessary to ensure you have the latest information about your system. This will be updated by Sony as required and as new features are added to the system.

FOLDING@HOME

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The Folding@Home project.
Folding@Home is an interesting inclusion into the PS3's long list of abilities. We all know how powerful the PS3 processor is, but just to prove it Sony and the developers at Stanford University have enabled this 50MB download so you can Fold@Home. No, it has nothing to do with that pile of laundry in the corner of your bedroom but rather is a large scale distributed project aimed at using the computing power from thousands of PC's and PS3's from around the globe to work on cures for diseases. Only 3 days after launch there are over 30,000 PS3 owners participating. Indeed with 161,427 active CPU's Windows machines are providing 154 TFlops of computational power while 30,156 PS3 Cell Processors are providing 479 TFlops. That's certainly an indication of the massive computational power of the PS3 compared to other systems.

Currently the Folding@Home project is working on cures for ailments such as Alzheimer's Disease, Cancer, Huntington's Disease, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Parkinson's Disease, as well as Ribosome & antibiotics. More information about the project, including the ability to run the process on your PC can be found here.


Click here to check out PLAYSTATION 3 LAUNCH GUIDE: THE VERDICT PART 2

Click here to check out PLAYSTATION 3 LAUNCH GUIDE: THE GAMES
Click here to check out PLAYSTATION 3 LAUNCH GUIDE: THE MOVIES