What's the big difference between the 120GB and 250GB PS3?
April 20, 2010 4:31 AM   Subscribe

Why would I want a 250GB PS3 over a 120GB one? And more n00b PS3 buying questions inside.

I've read the HD in the PS3 isn't terribly difficult to replace. Any reason I would want the 250GB unit over the 120GB unit? Also:

* What goes on the hard drive? Downloaded games? Movies? Can I copy stuff from my computer onto the PS3 drive?
* Anything else I should know about purchasing a PS3 (warranty, bundles, etc)
posted by gramcracker to Shopping (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The HD is incredibly easy to replace, but it was more of an issue with the the 20, 40, 60, and 80 GB flavors.

The main thing? The PS3 is a media center. I honestly think you're wasting it if you just play games on it. It plays pretty much anything except .mkv files (I have yet to understand why people encode in that, enlightenment, anyone? It seems like it's very limited in terms of playback). While MeFi is kind of frowny on downloading, if you do, the PS3 is perfect for playback, though the file structure limits you to sub 4GB files, that's still near blu-ray quality. It's pretty good at music (though using your tv as a stereo seems excessive, really) and photos (a big screen tv is a bit nicer to look at than a laptop screen when you're sorting photos).

The other thing is DLC games, some of which can be pretty big. Other things, like game installs, can take up a lot of space.

Copying files from your computer to the PS3 is incredibly easy. You can either copy from the network, or with a thumbdrive (I live in the dark ages). The only thing that's not so great is the lack of a folder system in the XMB, so whatever you load (movies, at least) is just there, in a very, very long line of files.

Honestly, depending on what you want to do, the 120 should be fine. If you're not putting lots of video on the PS3, you should be okay. You can also stream through the network from your computer (can't remember the program name, but it'll come up, it always does in PS3 threads). If you do want to store movies on it, the 250 might be a good deal. I honestly wouldn't have bothered with the hard drive on mine if I'd had 120 or 250, but 40 was kind of snug.

As for purchasing, get Little Big Planet. It'll make you happy. To combat that, try Heavy Rain, which will cure you of happiness, but in an engaging way. On Blu-ray, Earth was stunning.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:18 AM on April 20, 2010

This question isn't terribly different than a similar question someone might ask about a PC hard drive. The answer, it's fair to say, is that it will depend on what you intend to do with the PS3. It really is a multimedia monster...in that you can enjoy virtually all of your content on it.

The PS3 gives you the option to copy almost all of your media onto its hard drive, so music, movies, and photos are all fair game.

Does all the content have to be on the hard drive? Absolutely not. Plug a USB stick or an external drive into one of its USB ports, or set up your PC as a media server and stream all of your content through it, or just burn discs to play in the optical drive.

The Playstation Store is a behemoth, and there are thousands of downloadable movies and games (full and demos) for your enjoyment.

For what it's worth, I stream my content (music, movies, photos) from my PC and save the hard drive space for game downloads and saved games.

When you buy a PS3, make sure you have an HDMI cable available (monoprice.com for good deals). A wireless internet connection will be helpful as well. For what it's worth...the PS3 has changed the way I consume media. It's finally the solution that gets content onto my television and through my home theater system without having the trouble of hooking up a PC to the TV and setting up folder sharing and proper networking. Have fun.
posted by st starseed at 5:27 AM on April 20, 2010

I stream all my media from my computer to my PS3 using TVersity; others have more luck with PS3 Media Server. There are only two reasons I can think of for storing media on the PS3 itself: either you want to watch high-bitrate HD video that would saturate your local network connection (not likely but possible—I've only done it with test HD clips, never stuff I actually wanted to watch) or you want to be able to play music in games that support custom soundtracks. I had to copy over all the soundtracks from the previous Wipeout games to the PS3 itself in order to play them in Wipeout HD, for instance.

You are unlikely to need the 250GB hard drive, but that's not to say you couldn't find a use for it somehow.
posted by chrominance at 5:46 AM on April 20, 2010

As chrominance mentioned, TVersity and PS3 Media Server. Those were the ones I was thinking of. I've only got wifi, and to go along with the HD stuff, wifi and HD aren't good friends yet. I was streaming a decent (not HD, mind you) quality video over wifi, and there were artifacts and even lag during some of busier scenes. When copied to the hard drive, I haven't seen any problems with video, even the very high quality video I mentioned before.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:00 AM on April 20, 2010

Bear in mind that the PS3 is 802.11g, not 802.11n. You can't stream 720p video over it at any kind of acceptable frame rate.
posted by mkultra at 6:25 AM on April 20, 2010

I would only get the 250gb PS3 if other parts of the bundle were a good deal. Sony wants another $50 for another 130GB, but for $75 you can slap a 500gb drive in there.

You can't stream 720p video over it at any kind of acceptable frame rate.

Actually, I find that 720p is almost acceptable -- anything you watch will be 99% fine, but will stutter occasionally.

While MeFi is kind of frowny on downloading, if you do, the PS3 is perfect for playback, though the file structure limits you to sub 4GB files

That's not a PS3 limit, that's a USB drive limit -- the PS3 will only recognize FAT32 USB drives.

You can store big files on the PS3, you just can't get them there using a thumbdrive. I routinely copy files up to ~12gb to the PS3 over wifi.

MKV files need to be converted before the PS3 will play them. But most MKV files are just an x264 video stream and an audio stream mushed together, so all you need to do is reach in, pull out the video and audio stream, and repackage them as an avi. mkv2vob does this painlessly; ninety-odd percent of 4 or 8gb mkvs take just a minute or two to convert. Ones that require full transcoding take hours, of course.

The other thing the PS3 won't do is play subtitles from an srt file.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:46 AM on April 20, 2010

Umm. The other reason to buy a 250 instead of a 120 is because some retailers have had trouble keeping the 120s in stock. That's why I got a 250. :)
posted by DaveP at 9:04 AM on April 20, 2010

You can buy a 60gb and drop in a 1tb drive for cheaper than the price offset between the 60gb and the 250 gb, and it's as simple as pulling one screw.

If you're looking for a backwards compatible ps3 (used only, no longer available), then you've got fewer options.
posted by TomMelee at 9:33 AM on April 20, 2010

I've had a 60gb for 3 years. Haven't had to delete anything yet. But I don't have any media files on mine, they all stream over the network. I'd only bother with a bigger disk I planned on downloading media to the ps3 itself.
posted by valadil at 10:23 AM on April 20, 2010

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