Sony PlayStation 3 Game Console Page 4

Sony PlayStation 3 Game Console

The PS3's features include an Internet browser, although I really can't see anyone using this for actual Web browsing. Addresses are entered cellphone-text-message style on a virtual keyboard using the gaming controller, though you can connect a USB keyboard - clearly the way to go. I had difficulty with the browser, however; it locked up a couple of times and refused to load pages at others. Additionally, it didn't like my e-mail provider, AOL, and if a message was more than a few lines, there was no way to scroll down to read the whole thing.

The Web connection is crucial, however, for online gaming and visiting the PlayStation Store. Compared to the offering from Microsoft, which has spent far more time developing an online presence for Xbox, the PS Store is pretty weak in its initial showing. At the time of my test shortly after launch, it offered only a smattering of content, with a few downloadable demos and HD movie trailers. But on the plus side, the online service - including gaming - is free, unlike Xbox Live, which requires an annual membership fee.

Sony also uses the broadband Internet connection to provide ongoing changes and improvements via software and firmware updates. I went through two separate updates during the first 10 days I had the PS3 in my possession, and it is certainly possible that Sony might address issues I've mentioned (as well as others) in future releases.

One OS Good; Two OS Better

In a nod to open standards - yes, I'm still talking about Sony - you can install other operating systems on the PS3. Rumor had it that PS3s were supposed to ship with Linux already installed, but this didn't happen.

If you're so inclined, however, you can add Linux - for now. I say this because, within days of PS3's launch, reports started appearing on the Web of people using Linux to hack PS3s and actually rip not only copies of Blu-ray movies to the PS3 hard drive but games as well. Once data has made it off a disc and onto a drive, it isn't a stretch to imagine it being burned or disseminated, something I'll bet Sony is loath to think about. I'm sure this is a hole that Sony is looking to plug - permanently - ASAP.