Sony PlayStation 3 Game Console Page 3

The Short Form

$499 (20-GB); $599 (60-GB) us.playstation.com / 800-345-7669
Snapshot
The biggest, baddest, most powerful gaming system on the market and a damn fine Blu-ray movie player. But this performance is gonna cost ya.
Plus
•Gaming in HD, including 1080p •New SIXAXIS wireless controller •Storage capacity of Blu-ray Disc holds huge potential for future games •Cool synergy with Sony's PSP •Plays Blu-ray movies, too •HDMI 1.3 output
Minus
•No media streaming capabilities •DualShock vibration in controller is gone •Most expensive gaming rig on the block
Key Features
•60-GB hard drive (20-GB in base model) •Includes one wireless SIXAXIS gaming controller (supports up to seven connected simultaneously) •Tilt/motion sensing control in controller •Plays Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, and CDs •4 USB ports •Ethernet port for broadband Internet connection (Built-in Wi-Fi on 60-GB model) •Media-card slots (Compact Flash, Memory Stick and SD) on 60-GB model •Cell Broadband Engine CPU •HDMI 1.3 digital A/V output •Toslink optical digital audio output
I started checking the PS3's media capabilities by connecting the de rigueur portable - a 30-GB photo iPod. Although the PS3 sees the Pod, it doesn't interact with it too well. None of the photos or video files are accessible at all, and the music files are jumbled in generically labeled folders (as in F01, F02, F03 ...). Trying to find a particular song would have you scrolling though folder after folder, and you can forget trying to play an entire album.

Next I connected my Canon digital camera. It appeared as an "unknown USB device" and wouldn't show any photos. The solution was to remove the Compact Flash card and stick it into the media slot. This worked perfectly, but if I'd had only the base model PS3 (the 20-GB version) - which doesn't include the various media card slots - it wouldn't have been possible.

Lastly, I connected a 1-GB USB thumb drive loaded with music and photos. It worked like a charm. The good news is that if you want the PS3 to serve as a hub for music and photo viewing, you can pick up a large, external USB drive and fill it with all of your media.

Adding music to the hard drive requires ripping directly from a CD. Sadly, you can't do anything else while a CD is importing, but since it takes only about 5 minutes per disc, it isn't too inconvenient. If you're connected to the Internet, PS3 will retrieve album and artist info, but it won't get cover art. CDs can be ripped to the drive in MP3, AAC, or Sony's own ATRAC format, at a variety of bit rates. It isn't too surprising that Sony doesn't support rival Microsoft's WMA format for ripping, but it is a bummer that it won't play back files already in that format.

Photos can look mighty impressive when viewed on a big HDTV, and the PS3 offers a couple of slide-show options. By far the most innovative is Photo Album, which turns your digital files into virtual Polaroids that spiral and float down onto a slowly scrolling background with the date/time displayed in chalkboard-style script. This is a super-cool way to look at photos and would be a terrific screen saver to run during parties. The PS3 also lets you have music running during a slide show to set the right mood.

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