DVDs on Gaming Console?
September 30, 2004 1:33 PM   Subscribe

Playing DVDs on a PlayStation or XBOX: Threat or menace? I've seen occasional references suggesting this will somehow wear out a console's DVD drive. True or false?
posted by arto to Technology (11 answers total)
 
Only in the sense that driving your car will wear it out more then leaving it in the garage will. Seriously, you will want/have a new console long before the drive motor dies.
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 1:36 PM on September 30, 2004


Yeah, don't worry about it. I've had a PS2 since they first came out, and I use it as my primary DVD player. I play DVDs and games almost every day, and I've had no problems.
posted by vorfeed at 3:07 PM on September 30, 2004


people i know who primarily game on them have said it does wear out and start being wonky, but i think it's subjective to how they treat them.
mostly ps2 users, little problem from xbox (apparently it's hardier in construction: the way it sits/balances/something, all second hand info)
posted by ethylene at 3:37 PM on September 30, 2004


arto, XBOX is OK. The drives don't blow up any sooner than normal using DVD movies, it seems.

The PS2 has such a bad laser in the drive unit, Sony has been party to a class action lawsuit (they lost). In fact, if you call Sony and tell them "My PS2 has Disc Read Errors" in the US they are required to repair it for free (assuming it has not been modified in any way). You must pay shipping one way.

Here's a FAQ on that.

I have seen plenty of PS2s come in here. Every single one that hasn't worked, I've asked "Did you use this for movies?". Invariably, the customer says "Yes". That doesn't guarantee anything, but should give you an indication.

Basically, look at this this way: Your laser on your console has a limited life, limited by how many hours it's used. Let's say it's 1000 hours (if it's a PS2, I'm not exaggerting at all). Would you rather use your $200 console as a $200 console for those 1000 hours, or as a $30 DVD player for 1000 hours?

So, yes, it will wear the drive. Not necessarially any more than playing a game for 2 hours would. But, yep, it will put miles on it, all the same.

ethylene, the XBOX is a better built machine all over. Decent screws instead of watch screws, thick PCB substrate instead of extra thin, roomier construction (easier to fix), modular parts with cables that don't tear when you open the console, and more standard parts (easier to replace).

BTW: If you plan to fix a worn out drive yourself, in the case of the PS2 you'll be set back about $50 for the laser (good luck on calibration!), and in the case of the XBOX, you'll be set back about $125 for the drive.

HTH!
posted by shepd at 3:44 PM on September 30, 2004


thanks, shep. i try not to indulge, myself; the assumption on construction was mine from just checking them out.
posted by ethylene at 3:50 PM on September 30, 2004


"Threat or menace?"

Menace. The PS2's MPEG decoder provides extremely low quality output, filled with artifacts. Using a PS2 as a DVD player can actually cause your eyes to melt out of their sockets.

As far as wearing out, shepd's very close. The laser in your console has a limited MTBF (not life, but life expectancy), and the cost of fixing or replacing a failed console is higher than that of fixing or replacing your average Wal Mart DVD player.

Having said that, I'd rather replace my PS2 with something from eBay than have to replace my $450 DVD player.
posted by majick at 4:01 PM on September 30, 2004


What shepd and majick said. The PS2 is a) a crappy DVD player (probably the crappiest I've seen, actually), and b) prone to disc transport/laser failure. I'd recommend getting a cheap DVD player instead (you can get a half-decent Apex unit for $50 or so some places. And they're usually hackable to be region-free to boot!).
posted by neckro23 at 5:41 PM on September 30, 2004


I've tried playing a couple of movies on the Xbox, and was disappointed with the output quality (same as I was with the PS2 playback.) I won't play a DVD on my XBox unless it's a dire emergency, you're better off with a standalone DVD player.
posted by robbie01 at 7:24 PM on September 30, 2004


I don't see any problems with DVD movies on my Xbox, quality wise. However, I recently switched to Component video and haven't noticed a difference in either my games or videos so it's possible I just can't perceive differences in quality that much.

I say do what is most convenient and asthetic. A lot of "entertainment" set-ups don't have enough inputs; if using your XBox DVD player would save you the hassle of switching cables every time you wanted to watch a movie then it's probably the way to go.

Speaking of Xboxes... Mine is currently open and it only works when the hard-drive is at an angle! It's not screwed in, obviously. I can't find the proper screwdrivers at the moment, but should screwing it back in rectify things or will I have to keep my hard drive at an ange for eternity? (Or I guess I could get a new drive).

(a dire emergency?)
posted by ODiV at 9:35 PM on September 30, 2004


Thanks all, especially shepd. (That was informative, if disappointing--Sony oughtta know better than to ship product that shoddy!)

I'm guessing this disk read error problem is something to check for if I'm looking for a used PS/2, then...
posted by arto at 9:43 PM on September 30, 2004


Speaking of Xboxes... Mine is currently open and it only works when the hard-drive is at an angle! It's not screwed in, obviously. I can't find the proper screwdrivers at the moment, but should screwing it back in rectify things or will I have to keep my hard drive at an ange for eternity? (Or I guess I could get a new drive).

That sounds a *LOT* like the low level formatting of the drive is bad. Old MFM drives would have that problem.

Will it work like that forever? Hmm... hard to say.

Should you get a memory card and backup your saves? Yes.

If you haven't modded your XBOX, it's tough to replace the hard drive. It has to be locked to the HDD code stored on the EEPROM on yor console (I think the chip is a 27LC16). This is tough to get out of the console without some serious work, or modding it. Sorry. Oh yeah, you have to load it with the XBOX dashboard, too. An HDD from another XBOX will not work on an unmodded XBOX. For sure.

I'm guessing this disk read error problem is something to check for if I'm looking for a used PS/2, then...

Definately. Here's the best ways to tell if the used PS2 you're considering isn't a good candidate:

- If you put in a game and press the "reset" button, the console doesn't boot the game right away, and instead either shows the rotating "thingy" (yeah, sorry, there's not a good name for it) or it goes to the browser and makes you push the X button to start (or it starts itself from there), the laser is nearing the end of its life.

- If you can't play a DVD-R (*not* DVD+R -- all older PS2, no matter how good the laser, cannot recognize + media) movie, the laser is likely bad.

The best games to test the PS2 with are DVDs. The DVD laser is almost always the first to wear out.

Of course, if the laser is crapping out, and it's not opened, it's a good candidate for the DRE free fix. And once fixed, it's good as new. :-)
posted by shepd at 10:45 PM on September 30, 2004


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