I couldn't find a 60GB Playstation 3 (at least from a place that will ship to a work address) but I did find a local GameStop with a refurbished 80GB PS3 for about $450.
So far I have been very impressed- there are very few things I can find a flaw with in the system. Sony will have a winner when the console comes down to about $300.
First a little about the differences in the PS3 units:
- 1st Gen: 20GB and 60GB
PS2 compatibility via embedded Emotion Engine CPU
60GB has integrated WiFi and a memory card reader; 20 GB does not
- 2nd Gen: 80GB
Same as the prior 60GB but removed the Emotion Engine CPU and uses software for PS2 Compatibility
- 3rd Gen: 40GB
Dropped all PS2 support, removed the memory card reader and dropped down to 2 USB ports (from 4 on all prior models)
All PS3 units can play Blue-ray and DVD movies, use Bluetooth for wireless 'Sixaxis' controller connectivity and have HDMI output. I have heard rumor that all PS3s can play all PSX games, but I need to find an original PSX disk to test!
The reason for the progressive decrease in hardware is cost-cuttings Sony lost an estimated $240 for every 60GB PS3 unit it sold for $599.
All the technical jumbo aside, the PS3 is a very powerful machine- with some small caveats.
- The machine is quiet- more so than I expected
- It can connect to media servers in the network (such as Media Player 11) and stream:
- Video in MPEG-1, MPEG-2, WMV, MPEG-4 SP (DiVX/XViD) and MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (Quicktime and HD) formats to my TV over HDMI.
- Audio in MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV and ATRAC
- Images in JPEG, GIF, PNG, TIFF or BMP formats
- I can pair Bluetooth headphone, mice, keyboards and remote controls. (Games can be written to allow mouse/keyboard interface- such as Unreal Tournament 3 was).
- I can 'pair' my PSP to the PS3 and enable 'remote play' of the PS3 over a wireless connection- from both LAN or the Internet. Remote play allows me to play any video, audio or image my PS3 can see (locally stored on the PS3 HD or from my home network media servers) and play games that are configured to allow remote play (such as Lair).
- Hard drives are easily upgraded- it is a standard 2.5" SATA drive (the note on the installed PS3 drive that says 'not for laptop use' means that it does not have the inertia dampening/shock absorption systems that a typical laptop would need- it is designed for a stationary system).
- It can read a USB hard drive/thumb drive that is attached via USB (there is a specific folder structure it uses but pressing the triangle will let you browse the folders
- It works with most USB devices- including mice, keyboards and the xBox 360 cam (but not the xBox 360 HD DVD drive!)
- Game saves and system settings can be backed up to a USB drive (or downloaded from the Internet and copied back to the PS3!)
- The wireless controller recharges via a standard mini-USB cable
- The system upscales DVD nicely.
- Unit can be configured to dual-boot with a Linux OS
- USB Ports are only on the front of the system
- No support for TS or MKV files (without transcoding via TVersity or similar product)
- No homebrew apps (yet!)
- No integrated IR receiver (so will not work with universal remotes unless you get the Nyko Blu-Wave IR remote for about $20)
- Not able to direct all audio output to a paired Bluetooth headset- only to HDMI, optical or analog audio out.
Personally I think Sony has really screwed themselves for after-sale accessories by using standard USB and Bluetooth connectivity- but this is good for the end user; why buy a Sony Bluetooth headset when the Jabra for your old phone will work just the same?
The DVD upsampling on the PS3 is so good
The largest 'pro' for me is the PSP remote play connectivity. This functions much like a Slingbox device that has been tailored for the PSP screen. To start, the PSP must be registered by plugging it in locally via USB to the PS3. At this point the PSP can connect over a private network (including the PS3's internal wireless) and can control the PS3 while it is in 'Remote Play' mode. Going a step further you can register your PS3 with the Playstation Network and now the PSP can connect via external Internet to the PS3 (by using your Playstation Network login and password) -and even remote power on the PS3 (when configured in the PS3 menu)!
I haven't been able to find a way to activate remote play unless the PS3 is in the 'remote connect' mode (under the networking menu) or powered down- if I leave it at the main menu or in a game demo it is inaccessible via PSP.
Sony included the Folding@Home program in the system- which is much like the seti@home project but this uses CPU cycles to analyze protein folding instead of looking for ET signals. Due to the PS3s cell CPU configuration I have heard it can crunch numbers about 20x faster than a standard (single core) computer.
One good thing Sony has done is allow the user to copy media to the PS3 by simply hitting the triangle and selecting 'Copy'. This works for videos, pictures and music on local media or on network drives. On the xBox 360 the ONLY way to get MP3s to the system was to rip them from the original CDs. The PS3 also has a CD rip option (up to 320kbps MP3 format)- and it also allows one to copy them from the PS3 to an external HD! (folder copies are also an option).
Sony has a basic online store and online friends similar to other game systems (i.e. xBox Live). The online store has some pros and cons when compared to competitors offerings:
- Easy menu system, grouped by games, movies, etc.
- Online purchase for games- and some older PSX games include both PS3 and PSP versions in the same download.
- Game Demo downloads
- Option to 'download in background' or 'download and play' for videos
- Able to download PSP demo games
- Game demo downloads must be installed before playing (If I want to download it, the PS3 should automatically install and have it ready for me when I want to play- installs can take 2-3 minutes for larger games)
- No movie downloads
Once someone figures out a good hack to play homebrew games on the PS3 it will be an awesome device; until then I will be happy with playing God of War (PS2), watching DVDs and buying an occasional used PS3 game on the clearance rack at GameStop!