Playstation 3 top, bottom, and side views.
Sony's Playstation 3 debuted in November 2006 to the usual wild abandon that a Playstation launch entails. The spectacle of long lines of people waiting at ungodly hours of the night has been the butt of many jokes in internet land. Apparently the launch was even crazier in Japan where many of those in line were actually Chinese immigrants hired as scalpers for online auctioneers. When a product launch spurns riots, robberies, and murders, it's definitely going to be the hot item the following Christmas.
The Playstation 3 made it's public debut at the 2005 E3 show to much fanfare. However the 2005 showing lead to much speculation and rumor as no games were actually shown on a working PS3 and were instead running on dev kits. This lead to a lot of speculation in online circles of what the console was truly capable of until actual games were shown running on actual consoles at the following year's E3 show.
There was also a bit of controversy following Sony's announcement that the console would come in two models, one with a 20 GB hard drive and another more expensive 60 GB version with a $100 difference in price between the two. The premium console also comes standard with built in Wi-Fi and Flash card readers. However as these things usually go as prices go down within a year or so the slimmer model will probably be phased out.
The console comes with a SIXAXIS controller, which is visually identical to the standard PS2 Dual shock controller, the addition being the new one has the ability to track motion through 3D space which allows the controller functionality similar to (although not as dynamic as) the Wii remote. The PS3 also comes with a free subscription to the Playstation Network, which like it's competitor's online networks allows the user to (among other things) buy and download games online, including older PS1 and PS2 titles.
As of this writing (2/13/07) I do not yet own a PS3 so I'm not yet qualified to make any judgments. The console's styling seems nice enough, the controllers seem functional enough, the interface is not too confusing. I myself am a little weary of buying any Sony console at launch for fear of it melting down on me. Call me crazy, but I like to actually learn from the past when possible. To be fair though I haven't heard much about bunk systems or bad build quality, whatever problems the console seems to have out of the box tend to be resolutions downscaling incorrectly or incompatibility with older software which is being fixed with monthly patches.
As my experience with the console is limited to demo units I have to let this one go. If and when the price comes down to something affordable I'll get one, which seeing how the launch price is $599 should be in about three years or so.
Playstation 3 Weirdness:
One of the early pics of the Ps3, later confirmed to be a hoax.
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Pics courtesy of http://us.playstation.com and are used here for purposes of review
Sony Playstation 3
Games at launch:
Cell Broadband Engine
256MB XDR Main RAM 256MB GDDR3 VRAM
2.5' Serial ATA(60GB)
2.0 X 4
Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T
IEEE 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 2.0 (EDR)
Wireless Controller Bluetooth (up to 7)
480i,480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
HDMI out - (x1 / HDMI)
AV MULTI OUT x 1
DIGITAL OUT (OPTICAL) x 1
Blu-ray/DVD/CD DRIVE "read only"