360 RIP. Hello PS3?
March 4, 2010 6:04 PM   Subscribe

Xbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3, 2010 Edition.

My (t)rusty 360 has died. It's well out of warranty, and my Xbox Live subscription is coincidentally up for renewal. I'm toying with getting a PS3 instead of replacing the 360, but I've got a few questions/reservations:

- Is the Netflix experience equivalent or better (beyond having to send away for the disc- I'm talking about the actual streaming)?
- Do multiplayer games recognize a central identity, a la Xbox Live?
- Is game tech finally catching up to the hardware? Are PS3 versions of games starting to look better than the Xbox 360 versions?
- Is there any sense of a shift in the industry toward "PS3 first, then Xbox"? For a long while, at least, it's seemed the opposite.
- Can I stream various formats to it from my Mac (DivX, Quicktime, MP4)?
posted by mkultra to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
- Can I stream various formats to it from my Mac (DivX, Quicktime, MP4)?

About a year ago I used to stream all my media from a Mac mini to the PS3 with the TwonkyMedia server, before I used the Mac as our dedicated media jukebox. The PS3 would play music and MP4 video. However, the PS3 didn't play codecs used for commonly torrented media (DivX, for example). This may, however, now be different.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:13 PM on March 4, 2010

A friend of mine uses the PS3 Media server to stream all kinds of files to his PS3, even codecs not natively supported by the machine. I don't know if it works for Mac, but most of those file types (DivX, Quicktime, and MP4) will play just fine on a PS3.

Personally, I'm quite happy with my PS3, but a lot of that is due to the region-free aspect of the games, and being able to find bilingual games, an aspect that not as many people find crucial. On the other hand, even though I play a lot of games, I use it to watch video files even more often, either streaming from an NAS drive, or loading movies directly onto the hard drive (which is easily upgradeable, takes about twenty minutes).
posted by Ghidorah at 6:21 PM on March 4, 2010

Bonus question- is a bigger HD worth it? Can you install games directly on the HD, like the Xbox?
posted by mkultra at 6:22 PM on March 4, 2010

The bigger hard drive is nice, but you can upgrade your PS3 with a 2.5" laptop hard drive, and that's MUCH cheaper.
posted by MegoSteve at 6:28 PM on March 4, 2010

Have you heard about this PS3 bug?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:28 PM on March 4, 2010

-The streaming itself is just as good, though the interface isn't as integrated as on the 360 (But hey, you don't have to pay for Live for the privilege
-All multiplayer goes through PSN, your PSN ID is used in all games.
-That's questionable, but there's only been one game in recent memory that had clear issues on the PS3 (Bayonetta).
-I have a NAS streaming all manner of video (It runs Twonky, but any DLNA ready software will work). Divx, MP4, QuickTime (modern QT is actually MP4); plays it all.
posted by ConstantineXVI at 6:29 PM on March 4, 2010

Some games install (mandatory) parts on the HD, but no full installs.
posted by ConstantineXVI at 6:31 PM on March 4, 2010

Don't have a 360.

The PS3 will natively play most commonly downloaded video formats. A few oddly-encoded divx/xvid files won't. The only real problem is mkvs, but there are servers that will transcode on the fly, or (90+ % of the time) you can grab the mkv, rip out the audio and video streams, and repack them as an x264 avi that the ps3 will happily play.

In our house, a wireless connection is good through 720p video. A 720p video will probably have a moment or two in a particularly busy scene where it stutters for a few seconds somewhere in a 90-minute movie.

I wouldn't get a bigger HD from Sony unless it was part of a nice package. Installing a new one is stupidly easy. The only games that (fully) install on the hard drive will be downloaded games.

The bug some sort of stupid calendar bug that fixed itself as soon at we hit 2 March GMT; like the Zune bug.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:46 PM on March 4, 2010

I wouldn't say that the majority of games are looking better on the PS3 than they are on the 360 yet, but I think that most studios making AAA titles have streamlined their processes to get quite a bit more out of the PS3 than they did before. It may not look noticeably greater across the board, but I do think that most games no longer look noticeably worse (notable exceptions still exist, however).

360 first, in development, does still seem to be somewhat standard, and I think it may remain that way, as most studios have their engine and their development process pretty well oiled by this point. Changing to 'PS3 first' would likely create an undue burden, considering how competitive the market is right now, how saturated the market is with 360s (and not with PS3s), and how well xbox live is doing currently.

FWIW, I work in the game industry, and I only have a 360 (and a Wii, which of course I never turn on), but I see almost all of the games that come out at work or at friends and colleagues houses, on both platforms. That said, I am finally at the point where I am considering purchasing a PS3. It finally seems like it might be worth the money. There's enough exclusive content that it seems interesting to me at this point, and there are some games that are cross platform but strangely, I only want to play them on the PS3 (Heavy Rain, Final Fantasy XIII, coming out this month!).

I can't speak to the streaming on netflix or the PSN experience. I love xbox live. I've never been thrilled with Sony's design of PSN. It isn't nearly so robust as the 360 and it makes things like their trophies seem lame in comparison.
posted by pazazygeek at 6:47 PM on March 4, 2010

Weirdly enough, my 360 just bit it while playing Ninja Gaiden 2. I'm probably not going to replace it until there's another 360-exclusive I really want to play, probably Halo:Reach. In the meantime, I've got a PS3 and FFXIII in a week.
posted by Oktober at 6:53 PM on March 4, 2010

- Is the Netflix experience equivalent or better (beyond having to send away for the disc- I'm talking about the actual streaming)?

Don't know about that but I use PS3 Media server to stream from my laptop to watch movies and other things. If you get the PlayOn then you can transcode website videos on the fly i believe.

The PS3 media server automatically transcodes videos that are not in ps3 playable format. I believe it may work on the mac too since it's java (i believe), hit up the link.

- Do multiplayer games recognize a central identity, a la Xbox Live?

You can make multiple users for different people who use the playstation. I do not know about the central identity.

- Is game tech finally catching up to the hardware? Are PS3 versions of games starting to look better than the Xbox 360 versions?

Haven't compared but hearsay is that the PS3 processor is yet to be fully utilized which means that it has a longer life on it compared to the xbox 360.

Addendum you are not looking for:
-Buy a warranty for 3 years from squaretrade! Buy it within the first 10 days and get accidental damage protection too! Friend's Blu-ray diode just died and it costs half the cost of purchase just to replace that.
-Keep it clean by vacuuming it every 3 weeks or so, keeps it running with lesser fan noise.
-It's portable because you do not need to carry a separate power adapter.
-It's a Blu-Ray player
-No subscription cost at the moment
-I bought it for uncharted 2 (really wishing I had a HD tv). See the article on nytimes about it.
posted by iNfo.Pump at 7:36 PM on March 4, 2010

Eurogamer have an archive of 360 v PS3 technical analyses of individual titles, should you want to check how $YOURFAVOURITEGAME fared on either platform.
posted by permafrost at 3:34 AM on March 5, 2010

Are PS3 versions of games starting to look better than the Xbox 360 versions?

For individual game comparisons between the two systems Digital Foundry is a great resource. It will not only compare the tech behind the games but will also make note of improved gameplay features exclusive to a particular version, if present. Here's a summary of the results, but I reckon it is better to ignore the overall numbers and instead focus only on the games you're interested in purchasing and read the detailed comparison for those.
Bottom line: most games are better on the 360, but most games you wouldn't want to play anyway. Also, better sometimes means virtually indistinguishable without special equipment.

As for the future, IANAGame developer, but I wouldn't hold my breath for consistently better versions of multi-platform games on the PS3. From what I understood so far, even though in raw terms the PS3 is theoretically more powerful, it takes a lot more effort on the developers' part to use it correctly (law of diminishing returns, basically).

On preview: permafrost beat me to it.
posted by Bangaioh at 3:50 AM on March 5, 2010

I've both and Xbox360 and PS3.

I don't play much multiplayer, and can't get netflix here, so I won't answer on those, but you do have a central account ID.

In the last few months I've found I'm looking forward to PS3 exclusive games much more, and using the PS3 much more than the Xbox. Uncharted 2, Heavy Rain, God of War III - in just the first three months of 2010. Saying that I still use the Xbox a fair bit, but the exclusive games don't seem as appealing to me at the moment - I still haven't gotten around to getting Forza 3. I prefer the graphics on the PS3 now, but I like single player story driven games, so unless the graphics are horrendous I tend not to notice.

You can plug in a hard drive for media files, and I believe you can also stream them with Vuze, and probably other, applications.

The PS3 bug mentioned above is now irrelevant - and never really was anything serious. It didn't effect the newer slim models anyway.
posted by Elmore at 6:43 AM on March 5, 2010

The Blu-Ray player alone is worth purchasing a PS3. It's simply the best stand-alone Blu-Ray player on the market, as it can do all the other things (streaming, games, etc.) as well as be upgraded to new features as they become available. Early adopters of Blu-Ray hardware are unable to upgrade, or upgrade easily - the PS3 is just a firmware update away.
posted by GJSchaller at 7:07 AM on March 5, 2010

Re Netflix,

I've used Netflix on my 360 and my PS3. The 360 version is definitely quicker to get started, even if you disregard the fact that you need to insert a disk in the PS3 to boot up the Netflix app (this disadvantage will probably disappear some time in 2010, since the exclusive booting-from-the-dashboard deal that MS has with Netflix is supposedly only for a year). I have noticed some pixelation in the Netflix streaming I've watched on the PS3 that hasn't appeared in streaming of the same content on the 360 (I compared both streams of a TV show and a movie on the same evening and have repeated this comparison, using different shows, three times). I have an N-speed router, so I don't think it's my network setup that's causing this.

Hopefully Sony will iron out the kinks in their Netflix app once they move it to the XMB, but for now, I always watch Netflix streaming on the 360. A huge plus for the PS3 is that you don't need to pay for gold membership to watch the Netflix as you do on the 360. It'll be interesting to see if MS drop the Gold requirement for Netflix once the PS3 does get disk-less Netflix (I doubt it, but I think it might push multi-console owners who don't really care about MP but who do love Netflix to just use Netflix on the PS3).
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:35 AM on March 5, 2010

I've got four 360s and two PS3s, for streaming, Blu-ray playback, and local/LAN multiplayer gaming.

If the number of units I have of each is any indication, I prefer the 360:

* The Xbox Live experience is superior to the PS3's offering, although the PS3 has improved since launch. It's simply a more matured offering. You'll hear people moaning a lot that Xbox Live has a fee and the Playstation Network does not. You get what you pay for, and if you can't afford the ~$4 per month fee for Xbox Live, video gaming is probably not the hobby for you.

* For the longest time, the PS3 didn't have a strong game library, but now most titles are available and launched multiplatform, so it's a moot point.

* Netflix is better on the 360, if for no other reason that you don't have to insert a physical disc every time you want to stream. From my understanding, you are required to insert a disc into the PS3 to stream, which to me somewhat defeats the purpose, so I've never even bothered with it.

* You can stream many file formats to both 360 and PS3. I use Nullriver's Connect360 on my Mac to stream torrents to my 360, and it works fine. Sometimes there are bizarre codecs that won't stream, but they probably wouldn't on a PS3, either, and I have to watch them with VLC on the Mac. I use Nullriver's Medialink to stream to my PS3, and it also works fine, though both are a little clunky for my tastes.

* The visual distinction between games on both platforms is negligible at best, though very specific details in very specific games may be better on one system or another, depending on the expertise of the developer. They will both look great on an HDTV, so get the biggest and best one you can afford. The 360 is what finally got me to buy an HDTV.

* Interestingly, the PS3 has actually taken a couple of steps BACK in terms of functionality. While the PS3 does have the Blu-ray ace up its sleeve (which is what I use my PS3 for 95% of the time), there have been several SKUs released after the original launch, many of which are NOT backwards compatible with Playstation 2 games, and some niche features (which are important to me) were also removed from the latest Slim version, such as the ability to play back Super Audio CDs.

* On the pro side, the PS3 has more stable hardware than the 360. I've had to send 3 of my 4 Xboxes back to Microsoft for repair after encountering the Red Ring of Death. It's estimated that about 40% of all Xboxes will fail, so you should just expect that yours will die at some point. However, I've also never had to pay a dime to have any of them repaired, outside of a shipping cost. As long as you get a Red Ring (the most common failure by far), the repair is free, essentially indefinitely.

* Both platforms offer pretty substantial Video-On Demand services for TV Shows and Movies, so that's essentially a wash.

* If integrating your gaming console into a home theater system is important to you, it's also worth noting that the PS3 does not natively support standard Infrared remote controls. There are a couple of solutions, including Sony's special Blu-ray remote for the PS3 (whose codes you can "teach" to a learning remote) -- but if I remember correctly, this remote doesn't actually support the POWER button for the PS3, rendering it useless for macro-based remotes you may use to control your gear. I've had much better success using Logitech's Harmony One remote, now that they sell a special PS3 Harmony adapter that allows you to fully control the PS3 using their remote. The 360 is also fully controllable using the Harmony remote controls, though I occasionally have trouble with one of the systems recognizing the power on/off command.
posted by robbie01 at 10:34 AM on March 5, 2010

It's worth noting that there appears to be a PS3 shortage right now. At least, this is what I discovered here in Boston this weekend, my boyfriend was looking for a PS3 for FFXIII. So far no luck finding one online or in any stores in the area.
posted by pazazygeek at 5:16 AM on March 8, 2010

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