Sony launched the PlayStation 3 (PS3) a year and a half ago, but Nintendo and Microsoft, with the Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 respectively, appear to have the bragging rights in the console market.
However we don't think the PS3 is dead just yet. Here's five reasons why we think you should take another look at the PS3 if you're a home gaming console fan, or if you're looking for a treat for your dad on Father's Day.
Finally, some good games for the PS3: It does take some time for video game makers to come out with games that make you go 'wow'. With the exception of a few games (such as Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction), the PS3 hasn't had that game that inspires people to rush out and buy the console.
Most of the 'must have' games over the past year have been available on one or other two systems, including games like Guitar Hero III, Rock Band and Call of Duty 4. Even Grand Theft Auto IV is available on the PS3 and the Xbox 360.
But the exclusive release of Gran Turismo 5: Prologue means that if you're a fan of this racing series, you'll have to buy a PS3 in order to play it. With more franchise games launching soon (including Metal Gear Solid 4, the next Final Fantasy chapter and eventually God of War 3), there are more opportunities for gamers to rediscover the technology advantages of the PS3 over the other systems. Couple the games with the new DualShock 3 controller (which incorporates both rumble and SIXAXIS motion sensitivity technology), and you have a gaming experience with the potential to exceed anything else on the market.
The benefits of Blu-Ray: Blu-Ray's win over HD-DVD gives Sony an edge
While most still consider the PS3 and Xbox 360 primarily as a video game system, the inclusion of network connectivity and the ability to play music, videos and view photos means that they're becoming more of a home entertainment console. Sony's inclusion of a Blu-Ray high-definition drive gives customers the option of experiencing the next-generation of DVD without having to buy a separate player.
Blu-ray's recent victory over HD-DVD in the 'format wars' means that PS3 owners won't have to worry about compatibility, unlike people who bought the add-on HD-DVD drive for the Xbox 360 (fortunately, the HD-DVD drive wasn't integrated into the Xbox 360, so Microsoft can save face with owners by selling an add-on Blu-ray drive).
The Sony PS3 is likely going to drive Blu-ray DVD equipment sales for the near future, as people jump into the fray - if you're really interested in Blu-ray, why not also buy a system that can play games? It's also worth noting that, because of its built-in network connectivity and hard disk, the PS3 is one of the few players on the market capable of upgrading to Blu-ray BD-Live Profile 2.0.
Due to its robust hardware configuration, the PS3 is considered by many to be the premier Blu-ray player on the market today. It also now supports DTS-HD output; if you're an audiophile, you're likely to appreciate this.
The system is 'more affordable' than before: When the 40GB PS3 launched in 2006, the £425 price tag (compared with £179 for the Nintendo Wii and £210 for the Xbox 360) took a lot of potential buyers out of the market. While Sony said the PS3 was good value, it was a hard sell considering the lack of good games and the uncertainty of the high-def drive. Sony then dropped the price of the PS3 to a more reasonable £289 for the 40GB model and £399 for the 60GB model.
Sony's online network has improved greatly: When the Xbox 360 and Sony PS3 launched their devices in 2006, the general consensus was that Microsoft's Xbox Live service was far superior to Sony's PlayStation Network (which was free, but didn't have lots of features and was tediously frustrating to use).
Sony has since dramatically improved the online service, and allows users to access the network without having to pay for a yearly service. The system is now quick, elegant, and highly intuitive. Currently, the store includes software for PS3 and PSP (including a variety of free trailers), online-only games, movie trailers, and some very cool things programmers are starting to do with the PlayStation Eye.
There are a variety of other features available as well. While PS3 users still can't download movies and TV shows (although you can download a few movie trailers, hopefully a sign of things to come) like they can on Xbox Live (although Sony is allegedly in talks with content providers about allowing for such content/this service has now been confirmed for Europe, you can still download game demos, add-ons to games (with more added all the time) and chat with friends. Speculation is rampant that when these video services become available, users will be able to transfer said material to their PSP's in much the same way they currently transfer music).
If online play and socialising with friends matters to you, it's hard to argue against free vs £40 per year, when the features available are pretty much the same. There's also something to be said about telling users how much a downloadable game costs (anywhere from £5 to £15) rather than using a point system and trying to hide the cost of the game (which Microsoft and Nintendo does, although Sony is rumoured to offer the card/point system in addition to their current credit card model - this will allow those without credit cards to take advantage of the network's many new offerings.
Also, because Sony opted for a standard 2.5in hard disk, users are free to upgrade to higher storage capacities at their leisure, without being subject to buying Microsoft's restrictive proprietary disk format. This is significant for a number of reasons, among them price, choice (up to 320GB currently), and simplicity.
Sony has also done a great job integrating the PlayStation Portable (PSP) with the PS3 - users can now connect a PSP remotely to the PS3 - from anywhere in the world - and play certain games remotely. If you're travelling, and opted to turn off your PS3 before leaving, it's not a problem - just turn it on remotely with the PSP.
The PSP also may act as a remote control. There is also speculation that with certain games, the PSP may act as a controller of sorts. For instance, if you're playing a racing game, you can use the PSP to control your car, while the PSP screen acts as a rearview mirror - that sort of thing. Let's be honest, we're becoming more and more convinced the PSP is a reason to get a PS3.
The PS3 will even help you champion a good cause: If any of the other reasons don't convince you to reconsider the PS3 as one of your video game console choices, consider that the PS3 can act as a client for Stanford University's Folding@Home project, a distributed computing project aimed at understanding protein folding, misfolding and related diseases.
PS3 owners with the client software installed can leave their devices powered on and connected to the network, and 'donate' their device's powerful Cell processors to the distributed computing project. You may also join with friends, rivals, or complete strangers to form a 'mini-collective', and focus your combined cell processors on a single task.
Since launching the PS3 client in May 2007, hundreds of thousands of systems have added their processing power to the project. In September 2007, the project received a Guinness World Record for achieving a computing power of 1 petaflop (1 quadrillion floating point operations per second). So if playing video games can lead to breakthroughs in diseases like Alzheimer's Disease, that should make you feel a whole lot better about powering up the console.
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