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THE VERDICT ~ PART 1
|The boxed system, Virtua Fighter 5 and Mad Katz Controller.|
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
|Size wise, the PS3 is much bigger then original PS2.|
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
|The box contents (except main system obviously!).|
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.
|The Folding@Home project.|
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.