Well, after waiting over two years, my smuggled prototype PS3 finally arrived. I have to admit that Sony has outdone itself this time. Without a doubt, this will be the game console to beat for the next couple of years. While exhibiting power and speed well in excess of most expensive tower PCs it also manages to be gorgeous as well.
Despite mine having arrived a gunmetal gray color, I cannot say exactly what color yours will be. Sony plans to offer the PS3 in several new colors, all of which are, quite attractive while still managing to look cool and sophisticated. They are very likely to either contrast with or match most modern and contemporary “living room” electronics. These new colors and case design schemes are deliberately targeted to their largest market demographic, the 25 to 50 year old, well-healed, educated male with too much discretionary income and time on his hands (at over $500, who else could afford one?). Reinforcing their appeal to this age group, the case design is cleverly retro and high-tech at the same time. With the main unit sitting on it its side (Sony’s preferred position) one can instantly see the strong influence of both the retired Cray supercomputer and IBM’s current “Big Blue” supercomputers. Therefore, anyone who has had the college level, “Introduction To Computers” class, and stayed awake, will recognize the design influence of these two machines.
The back of the console has so many ports; it looks like someone perforated it with buckshot. This includes several USB, two proprietary, a Cat 5 network connector and a connector for a standard telephone line (for the unlikely possibility that someone who owns this machine still uses dial-up for Internet access). Additionally, the controller ports, the on/off switch and finally a standard line current plug connector are in back as well. Yippeee, the external black PS transformer is dead! Good riddance! Furthermore, any standard PC, 110-120 volt wall cord will work when you lose/damage/involuntarily give away yours. This interchangeability is so unlike Sony that I was compelled to look twice to be sure there wasn’t a Sony “gotcha” in the pin configuration. There wasn’t.
The controllers are newly designed for this machine as well. While there is a superficial resemblance to the older design’s button arrangement, the actual PS3, 3-dimensional movement control is completely unique. Using a flux-gated positional sensor, all you have to do is move the controller in space and your on-screen character will move that way was as well. This is incredibly intuitional unlike the aggravating directional buttons. Now virtual reality feels more like reality and less like virtual. However, bad things can happen if one develops a severe itch while playing a game. The controller’s shape is going to take some getting used to as well. It looks like an aerodynamically altered boomerang. It is easier to use and more life-sized than the old units, it does border on being a little bit too bulky though. I guess we have to give a little in order to get a lot. In this case, a fair trade-off, I must say.
OK, finally, the game play! Actually it only came with two prototyped (and somewhat buggy games). To protect my source, I can’t name the titles other than to say that you have seen them both before in much less capable versions. And, as usual, playing these backwards reveals bizarre messages from the beyond. As I noted earlier, the machine runs software incredibly fast. However, it is excruciatingly slow loading that software (games) from the DVD unit. Everyone hoots and hollers about graphics and that their particular console is faster, smoother, has better resolution and is the best with 3-D graphics. I have sad news for Nintendo and Microsoft. The PS3 graphics excel beyond them in all of the above areas. Frankly, the PS3’s graphics are so fast and beautifully rendered that they look like they are running on a full-featured graphics workstation. I did not experience one instance of screen lag or pixelation. However, computer generated graphics, despite their beauty and incredibly detailed real-world physics, still look like the cartoons that they are. No doubt that once the graphics catches up to this hardware, I will be retracting the above statement. In a one-word description, the graphics are “Smokin'”! Oh, the surround-sound audio is excellent also.
All right, what didn’t I like? Well, I do have one complaint that I don’t think I can blame Sony completely for. For whatever reason, the unit I received was unable to burn CDs/DVDs. Honestly, I can’t tell you if this is a deliberate design choice or a malfunction in my unit. There was no indication that the unit was a burner but I was told that the PS3 came with one. In any case, I won’t be burning anything with this CD/DVD drive. Another gripe that I have is Sony’s obsession with copy and content protection. This thing is so eaten up with protection schemes that it crashed numerous times and then ended up disabled, with a corrupted hard drive. And, to further agitate and aggravate, it necessitated a cold reset five times. This they had better fix. Most folks will not tolerate the flakiness of their dumb copy protection schemes in order for Sony to squeeze out a few more dollars of profit, per person. It’s not like they are scraping to make a living and it really does smack of corporate greed despite their moral protestations to the contrary. If they disagree, I will happily review any data they would like to send me on any company, that they work with, that has belly-upped due to individuals making copies for their own use. The reason why they won’t send me that data is that it just doesn’t exist.
For those of you that don’t know, the entertainment industry’s estimates of the money they have lost due to piracy are absolute hogwash. Interestingly, they are able to produce what, on the surface, look like real numbers. However, once you know that they are adding up all the estimated copies of their product, you will understand why it is utter nonsense. Simply, they count every copy of their product that they decide has been made. That includes all of the legal copies of software made by the new owner(s) as a back up. Then they decide how many illegal copies are made in countries where they have absolutely no ability to obtain that information (i.e. China, Indonesia, the former eastern bloc countries, et al). Finally, they estimate how many copies are made from those estimated copies and they add those into the numbers as well. In many cases, the fanciful dollar amount is so high that just the act of transferring that money to their bank accounts would overload and paralyze the electronic banking system as well as bankrupt dozens of countries. And we are supposed to put up with their obnoxious copy-protection schemes, viruses, worms and Trojans (yes, they use those as well) because they are being “cheated” out of so much money! Yeah, right!)
Well, this concludes my PS3 review. I’m ready now. Bring on the PS4!
As always, this set of reviews is pure Ersatz! Nothing and no one has contributed a damn thing. I remain,