My new PS3 – Go! Go! Blu-Ray!

Today I made the plunge and finally got off the HD-DVD/Blu-Ray format fence and bought a PS3 system.

There were several reasons for this; first I did NOT buy it because I love Blu-Ray. I like that it has multiple studio and vendor support as well as about 25GB storage per layer, but the hardware for burning those discs is so new it makes the cost of production and third-party devices pretty high. That said, I have been watching Blu-Ray gain progressively more market share and seeing a number of more watch-worthy titles released on that format than HD-DVD. Also, in a less “scientific” approach I noticed a lot more people hanging around and buying from the BD movie shelf than the HD-DVD section at the local Fry’s and the shelf space dedicated to Blu-Ray movies is larger in almost all retail outlets I’ve been in that have them for sale.

One other item of note regarding the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD format war is that Sony already has considerable legs under the BD format with their alternate professional product line of XDCAM. This is also a blue laser format and is aimed at broadcasters and professional videographers. XDCAM has been around since 2003, well before consumer BD and the PS3 came out in , so even if the Blu-Ray consumer format somehow lost steam and died next year, Sony would continue to chug along with broadcasters and “big media” selling the same underlying technology to a different market. Just like they did when Betamax lost the Beta/VHS format war around 1988 and they sold it’s variant “Betacam” and later “Betacam-SP” to the broadcast industry becoming the defacto tape standard which is still in heavy use today.

Second, the PS3 allows Linux to be loaded as an alternate OS and Yellow Dog Linux is a complete and robust distro aimed specifically at the PS3 and takes advantage of almost all of its hardware.

Third, the internal hard drive can be easily expanded by replacing the factory hard drive with an off-the-shelf item. I was able to buy a new 160GB, 5400RPM SATA 2.5″ HDD for $105 at Fry’s today. This simple upgrade will double its current capacity and is not something easily done on the Xbox 360 at all.

Fourth, the latest update (2.1) includes many new features and video format playback capabilities like DivX and VC-1. Although it lacks Xvid support that the Xbox 360 just got, I don’t download pirated movies, so this lacking codec isn’t a deal-breaker for me.

Fifth, I own a Dlink DNS-323 NAS where my aggregator, Juice, regularly stores video and audio netcasts as well as my entire photo album and MP3s from my CD collection. Normally, accessing this would be a problem since the PS3 supports DLNA instead of UPnP (which is fucking stupid – I don’t care what their white paper says) most likely in some lame attempt to steer people toward buying Sony devices that use the protocol. However, there is a $40 hack that will allow the DNS-323 to run a DLNA service so the PS3 will see and talk to it and I can stream my content to the living room – through the PS3, like I currently do through my soft-modded (original) Xbox. This is an important issue for me as I want to stream my video netcasts through the PS3 and retire my old Xbox.

Sixth, is the five free Blu-Ray disc offer that you get when you purchase the PS3. Now, the HD-DVD camp has a similar offer, so this benefit was pretty much a wash to me although I feel the stronger titles are in the Blu-Ray camp. The HD-DVD offer ends on 3/31/08, which is two months after the Blu-Ray offer ends.

Seventh and last are the games. Although I am not a “console gamer” and prefer to use my Windows box for FPS games (BF2, CoD4, Orange Box, etc.), there are a few good titles that are out for the PS3 that will likely never see the light of a PC – Motorstorm (came with the PS3), Resistance: Fall of Man and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. In addition, the good Xbox 360 games like the Halo series and Gears of War are being or have been ported to the PC, so I can play them on my PC gaming rig when they come out. The PS3 has some limited backwards compatibility for my PS2 titles, but it is really half-hearted and pretty damn crappy in its execution, so I’ll be keeping my PS2 around for as long as I can since I have several import titles. Hopefully, now that Sony has dropped the price of their PS3 developer’s kit by half more gaming companies will be creating titles for it – next year…

So, the bottom line for me is that even though the PS3 is nowhere near perfect it does get better with each update and can do/is capable of far more than the Xbox 360 with an optional HD-DVD attachment. The fact that the PS3 is almost bulletproof is also a major plus while the Xbox 360 is plagued with the 3-red-LED ring-of-death for more than 30% of their consoles (!!!) doesn’t sit well with me.

Web pages on a big screen via the PS3

And since my wife gets a kick (and a good laugh) out of watching me wipe out and destroy my buggy while racing in Motorstorm the PS3 must be a keeper… Just to keep my wife amused, you understand….