Categories
Gaming

Impressions Of A New Playstation 3 Owner

Impressions Of A New Playstation 3 Owner

OK, I was late to the game buying a PS3. I had actually sold my PS2 in anticipation of picking one up at launch, but frankly the combination of excessive price, no software, and no interest in Blu Ray put me off. Fast forward almost two years, and my reluctant acceptance that HD DVD failed has finally pushed me toward buying a Blu Ray player. Needing something to play my PS and PS2 games on, the Playstation 3 ended up at the top of that heap after close analysis. So I bought one last week, and here are the thoughts of a hardcore gamer with 34 years of console experience on Sony’s newest box.

 

Minuses:

 

    • Price. Two years later the 80gb PS3 is $499. Too much for a game box, even one that doubles as a Blu Ray player. The mass market just isn’t going to shell out that much for a console. Exactly why Nintendo is number one in North America with dated hardware.
    • The Playstation 3 is very shiny. Would anyone else prefer a game console that looked like an AV component and not some plastic toy? Is it just me?
    • The PS3 has no multichannel analog outputs. OK, I know that I am one of the half of one percent who even cares, so I’m not mad about the omission. My pre/pro doesn’t accommodate HDMI, so until the hi-fi companies start releasing mid-priced pre/pros with HDMI I am only using HDMI for video. This isn’t a big deal for games because they all use legacy Dolby Digital as far as I can tell, but for movies I am missing out on high resolution audio. My HD DVD player made a concession for people like me by including multichannel analog outputs, and I can tell you that the audio on HD DVD and Blu Ray discs is every bit as impressive, probably more so, than the video. OK, I am stuck with legacy Dolby and DTS via optical until the hi-fi manufacturers make an HDMI pre/pro I can afford, or I finally break down and buy a cheap AV receiver to do the job. *shudder*
    • The PS3 is a pretty advanced piece of hardware, but so is the Xbox 360. Either of these consoles is likely to be the most powerful computer in your home, unless you have a quad core Xeon. After playing through part of Metal Gear Solid 4 I am even willing to concede that the PS3 is capable of slightly edging out the 360 in the image quality department. However, like the PS2 and the Sega Saturn before it, the PS3 is a somewhat arcane architecture. In simple language, the PS3 is more work for the programmers than the Xbox 360. What does this mean for end users? Games designed for the PS3 from the outset have the potential to look slightly better than a 360 game, but games simultaneously developed for both systems will likely favor the 360 in most cases. This seems to be the case to date with a few exceptions, and the frequency of this imbalance may decrease now that we are in a generation where the developers aren’t scrambling to hack out PS3 ports of 360 games. Still, the PS3 version of games that appear on both boxes will require extra effort, so how good the PS3 versions are will directly correlate to how much time the studio committed to writing for Sony’s hardware and not settling for “close enough”.
    • Networking. No contest. Xbox Live destroys Sony’s feeble attempt.
    • Trophies. Afterthought. Why bother?
    • The remote is Bluetooth. This means that no one’s universal remote will operate the PS3. The solution is to buy the aftermarket remote that comes with a USB dongle that translates IR commands to the PS3 and program your universal remote from it. The one BIG drawback is that you will still have to get up and push the power button. You cannot turn on the PS3 via remote. Sony could fix this with a firmware update, and I hope it’s on their list of things to do.
  • I had to download Siren: Blood Curse because Sony isn’t selling the game on disc in North America. HEY SONY! KNOCK THAT 5H!T OFF! You are going to fill my hard drive up really fast. Put your PS3 games on discs, not as 10gb downloads on the Playstation Store.

If you’re thinking my gripes were relatively few and mild, I agree. I haven’t really found too much fault with the PS3. They need to get cranking on software, because with all the minuses, there just aren’t enough compelling reasons for people to rush out and buy a PS3.

Here’s what I like about the PS3:

Pluses:

 

    • It’s quiet. The 360’s fan and drive roar in comparison. This is especially important for movie viewing, and the fan and drive noise of the PS3 is negligible for a game console.
    • The Playstation Store could be laid out a bit better, but it’s fast. You are in and browsing practically the moment you select it. More responsive than Microsoft’s, and much more so than Nintendo’s.
    • It’s a damn good Blu Ray player. Credit to Sony for not just including the functionality, but making the PS3 what is perhaps the best Blu Ray player out there.
    • Downloadable game content is handled within each individual game. Microsoft does this for updates, but not content. It’s a nice feature.
    • The software emulation of PS2 games isn’t as bad as you’ve been led to believe. I’ve played three titles so far, two of which were supposed to be problematic. The emulation is solid, as good as the 360’s. Look, this is software emulation, and their implementation is good. If you have a library of PS and PS2 games like I do, you will be able to enjoy them on your PS3, and that’s what matters.
    • Built in wireless. Thanks Sony, I did not want to string another 20 foot ethernet cable from my office to my living room.
    • The upscaling and deinterlacing of PS2 games is quite good, better than my display can do. Your PS2 games have never looked so good on a HD television. The same can’t be said for how the unit does on standard DVD, but bravo Sony for making legacy games look so good.
  • The PS3 is a Playstation, a Playstation 2, a Playstation 3 and a Blu Ray player. That alone justifies the cost from where I sit.

I really wanted to hate the PS3, but instead I like it. I now have a Blu Ray player, and have begun the task of replacing the titles that I had purchased on HD DVD. As far as games, I will take a wait and see attitude. I will still buy the 360 versions of games that the editorial reviewers say have the edge. It took me a while this generation, but now I have all three current consoles, and as a gamer I like not being excluded.

The PS3 is a nice system. They need to come out with some games for it, and Sony needs to lean on developers to make sure that PS3 ports play to the strengths of the system. Is it better than a 360? No, they are very, very close. Initial impression is that PS3 can edge the 360 out in image quality, and the 360 edges the PS3 out in horsepower. The PS3 is also a Blu Ray player, which is a big plus for people who haven’t adopted yet.

My verdict? I’ll repeat one of the above bullet points:
The PS3 is a Playstation, a Playstation 2, a Playstation 3 and a Blu Ray player. That alone justifies the cost from where I sit.

Categories
Internet News

Web Design Use Torrents Safely With TorrentPrivacy

Web Design Use Torrents Safely With TorrentPrivacy

At the moment downloading is big news in the UK. Just today I saw a story on the news about how I games company where going after a unemployed single housewife for sharing a 3D Pinball game. In total she was looking at 16k in damages. Not a small amount for anyone, but even more when you don’t have a job.

If you are a user of torrents and you haven’t cracked how to use usenet which is a lot safer and untraceable, then you might want to check out TorrentPrivacy from Torrentreactor.net, who have purchased this review, which allows you to use torrents without any chance of any unwanted snooping.

Setting up the service is simple and is very similar to setting up other torrent services. 3 connection points are available in Europe (Netherlands), the USA and Canada. Torrentreactor promise that all of the points are secure, so my recommendation is that you choose the connection point nearest to where you live in order to get the best speed possible.

In order to create a secure connection, all connections utilise 128bit encryption so even if anyone, including your ISP, tries to monitor what you are doing they won’t be able to. Encrytion will also help if your ISP throttles torrent usage as you might escape this because they won’t be able to identify it as torrent usage.

The service uses a customised version of my favourite torrent client utorrent, to download all torrents. Once everything’s setup you can download a test torrent from TorrentPrivacy.com to see if everythhing is working ok. If everything is working correctly then you should see that your a different IP address to your own should be in use.

The only drawback I can see with the service is the price, with TorrentPrivacy costing $19.95/pm or $199.95/pa, which is a lot of money. There is however a special offer running in August, where both options are available for half the price. I guess the alternative for some users is paying big legal bills, but for that kind of monthly money you could go ‘legit’ and signup for a service like napster.

Categories
Mobile & Telecoms

Compare Mobile Broadband Providers With Broadband Genie

Compare Mobile Broadband Providers With Broadband Genie

I’d like to welcome Broadband Genie as one of the Connected Internet’s sponsors.

For those of you who haven’t come across Broadband Genie before, the original site allowed users to quickly compare broadband providers and to find the best deal based on their requirements e.g. where they lived, what price they were willing to pay and what speed they want.

The site is actually owned by a good friend of mine, Phil Wilkinson, and we go a long, long way back. I first met Phil in 1999 when he was developing a shopping comparison service and needed funding to pay for a beta trial. Instead of paying for the beta I tried to buy his company, but I couldn’t get my FD to review the deal fully as he was in the midst of organising our IPO.

This was a pity as Phil sold his site to Kelkoo for stock a few years later, and Kelkoo was then sold onto Yahoo. Funnily enough we were both working for the same boss at another company at the time, although Phil left once the deal completed.

I think that Phil and his team have made a wise move in setting up a mobile section within Broadband genie, as mobile broadband is going to be a big growth area in the UK over the next year or so. Mobile broadband in this context is obtained by connecting a 3G dongle or data card to a laptop, rather than via a mobile phone. These are getting more and more popular in the UK not just with business users, but also from consumers who want good connectivity on the move. Some of you may say that there are many free WiFi hotspots out there if you know where to look, but in my personal experience you just can’t beat the convenience of connecting to a 3G signal whenever you want, rather than trying to find a WiFi signal. Also, with a WiFi signal you can’t roam.

Mobile Broadband offers are also getting within the reach of the average user. For instance on the Broadband Genie site one of the featured offers is £15/mth deal from 3, that provides a free modem and 3GB of free transfer (5GB if you agree to an 18 month contract). This is within the reach of many pro-sumers.

Another interesting offer on the mobile section of the Broadband Genie site is from T-Mobile who are also giving away a free modem, and in return for £10/month you get unlimited (well, there’s a 3GB fair use policy), with speeds of up to 4.5Mbps. When you consider that 2 years ago you couldn’t even get a package like this on your phone, it’s a very good offer.

I think Mobile Broadband is seriously going to start challenging WiFi access on the move for laptops, and already we are seeing laptops with 3G cards built in. If you haven’t considered getting a 3G dongle before, then maybe it’s time you headed over to Broadband Genie to find the best deals.