Should I get a PS3?
February 25, 2008 8:09 PM   Subscribe

PS3 for Blu-Ray? Should I get one now? Is something better coming?

A part of me wants a cool video game system. (but not the $$$$ part)

I have an great stereo that only accepts 5.1 digitally, but 7.1 using analog. Are there any negatives with a PS3 based system for audio?

Is there any reason to not get a PS3 to play movies? Is there any reason I should wait or buy a dedicated Blu-Ray player instead?

I would rather spend extra money now and have something cool for the next year(s) than save $150, but if there are reasons a PS3 might be bad, I would rather know about them now.

Thanks in advance Hive!
posted by santogold to Technology (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd like to piggyback on this question actually. When I was first excited about playing DVDs I bought a PS2 intending to use it as my DVD player. But it turns out that as a DVD player the PS2 actually kind of sucks. My girlfriend's $79 standalone gives a much better picture, and it doesn't upscale.

Is this true of the PS3 too? Is it or will it become a crappy Blu-ray player compared to 2009's standalone units?
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:19 PM on February 25, 2008

And I'll piggyback on this too, to ask, when does the conventional wisdom say that the next SKU of the PS3 will be out? I'm on the fence between buying a refurbished 60 or 80 gig PS3 from or waiting for the new SKU.
posted by raygan at 8:48 PM on February 25, 2008

Someone had a very similar question a while ago, I think survey says: wait until a newer PS3 comes out. Check it out here.
posted by whiskey point at 8:50 PM on February 25, 2008

(when I said a while, i meant last Wednesday)
posted by whiskey point at 8:51 PM on February 25, 2008

So far the PS3 has been a very good Blu-ray player. I haven't used a stand-alone blu-ray player, so I have nothing to compare it against. I will say it is much more responsive than my Toshiba HD-DVD player.

This review (from 2006) rates it favorably compared to the initial stand alone players and may provide answers for your audio questions.

It has wireless internet built in, which makes updating the firmware quite easy if you're set up for it. The Sony remote is quite good, but using the controller is not too bad if you want to save money.

(Like ikkyu2, I also used the PS2 for DVD and was sorely disappointed. I've had no such regrets with the PS3).
posted by Gary at 8:52 PM on February 25, 2008

In case your situation wasn't complicated enough, I'd offer another option -- get an Xbox 360 (which according to rumor, will eventually have Blu-Ray support). The reason I suggest this is that the media player is nicer to use and you can download HD movies and games from Xbox Live.
posted by spiderskull at 8:53 PM on February 25, 2008

anyone know when the slim ps3 is coming out, if at all?
posted by Mr_Crazyhorse at 9:00 PM on February 25, 2008

Couple things:

I've been using the PS3 as my Blu-Ray and Standard DVD player for a few months now and have absolutely no complaints. As long as you get the remote, it runs very smoothly and doesn't obstruct your DVD-ing in any way. The updates are far easier than on a standalone player (such as my do-do bird of a Toshiba HD DVD unit).

The only thing I can think of is that the PS3 doesn't use IR or a serial plug for remote control, so you can't tie it into your all-in-wonder universal remote or IR relay system. But the Bluetooth remote is excellent, and even better to use than anything IR based.

I'm sure an eventual XBOX system would be the same, since their controllers and remotes are wireless and IR-free as well.

Assuming XBOX has a Blu-Ray unit on the way, it becomes an interesting dilemma. The XBOX right now HAS a better online experience and a better game library, but 2008 is supposedly the year in which Sony closes the gap. Their "Home" system will either surpass XBOX live, or go down in flames. They're getting movie downloads as well, supposedly, and they have some good titles coming.

Honestly, I don't think you'll go all that wrong either way. But as of right now, I can tell you that the PS3 is an excellent player and comes with a gaming system to boot. If it comes down to which gaming system, and you can wait until the XBOX blu-ray player goes beyond vaporware, I'd check out the titles for both systems and see which one you find more attractive.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 9:17 PM on February 25, 2008

I'm an Xbox 360 fanboy, and I would have a hard time not recommending the PS3 if you want to play Blu-Ray disks. Of course, with the dead format HD-DVD player for the 360 and six movies (King Kong pack-in, five via rebate) now retailing for $49.99, it's a hard bargain to turn down if you have any interest in taking advantage of cheap high definition movies since everyone's going to be dumping them (e.g., Hollywood Video clearing HD DVDs out at 2/$14.99.)

It's my understanding that the PS3 is one of the best Blu-Ray players on the market, largely because upgrading the firmware to support future software features of Blu-Ray will be very easy. I may end up getting one myself, but I'm going to wait for the rumored new model and hope for a price cut (or at least a style change and/or the inclusion of a rumbling controller).
posted by MegoSteve at 9:18 PM on February 25, 2008

I just finally bought a ps3 because of the death of HD-DVD, seemed like it made my choice for me. I bought the poor guy's 40 gig, but....whatever. I can't complain. I got it at Sams for $398, and then rockband and assassin's creed too. Haven't actually cracked open the Spiderman 3 disc that came with it, but getting the "next gen" player AND all the visual crack from the games sort of made my decision pretty easy.

I'll be interested to see how a Sony-Microsoft partnership would work out. I find it hard to believe that they'd license their brand to an arch rival with an arch-competing product. I think it's interesting that sony bet so much on their blu-ray brand, and in the beginning they looked SCREWED, ps3's selling poorly, etc., and now there's a huuuuge upsurge.
posted by TomMelee at 9:32 PM on February 25, 2008

One data point. There are currently three versions (what Sony calls profiles) of Blu-ray players out there: Profile 1.0, 1.1, and 2.0.

The PS3 is, so far, the only player that meets the hardware requirements for all three, and as has been mentioned it's supposed to be easy to update the PS3's firmware.

(I don't own a PS3, but I thought this would help.)
posted by oddman at 9:35 PM on February 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

The PS3 is a fine Blu-ray player, but I'd second the comment about the inconvenience of a Bluetooth remote. Any semi-serious AV enthusiast operates all their devices with a single Universal remote, and the PS3 is a lame duck here. It's awkward to use the PS3 controller to play back movies, though a dedicated aftermarket classic remote control is available. Still, a shame.
posted by robbie01 at 9:36 PM on February 25, 2008

The PS3 is widely regarded as the best blu-ray player available by a wide margin. Only reason to wait would be to see if a new variant of the hardware came along, but I don't think there is any solid info about the timeline for that.

Regarding the second poster's question, don't fret too much about your PS2 experience. The previous generation boxes (PS2/XBOX) had a lot to complain about as DVD players. The current generation is much better.
posted by madmethods at 9:49 PM on February 25, 2008

There are rumblings of a new model of PS3 (which is the, what, 5th now?) coming out soon. If you're really concerned, it might be worth waiting until next Xmas (or at least until the end of the summer). The exorbitant price of Blu-ray discs might come down a bit by then too.

anyone know when the slim ps3 is coming out, if at all?

A long time, if ever. The hardware inside a PS3 is quite new and it's going to a loonnngg time for it to be significantly miniturized.
posted by Nelsormensch at 10:17 PM on February 25, 2008

The ps3 is a fine DVD/blu-ray player, but it does make a heck of a lot more noise than a simple DVD player. Even in my vented cabinet, if I don't leave the door to the rack open for maximum airflow, it will overheat and the fan will kick into hairdryer mode, drowning out most of the sound.

If you want a slim silent piece of home theater equipment, I'd say wait for blu-ray 2.0 players to come out and get one of those instead. If you don't mind a little noise and like to play games, get the ps3.
posted by mathowie at 10:22 PM on February 25, 2008

Professional Blu-ray nerd says go for the current PS3. Current titles are being authored with the PS3 hardware limitations as the ceiling as far as performance goes. Basically, no standalone player will perform better or faster than a PS3 for most titles.

If your stereo doesn't support 7.1 through HDMI, you'll have to stick with 5.1, because the PS3 does not support analog output higher than 2 channels. Note that PS3 does not support 7.1 DTS-HD output—it will downmix to 5.1.

Matt, my 40 GB version makes hardly any noise at all in a cabinet with limited ventilation. Maybe a blast of canned air in the fan vents of your PS3 will help you out.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:10 PM on February 25, 2008

The PS3 usually gets very high reviews as a BD player. In addition to the things that others have noted, it's rather overpowered for a BD player which gives it a much faster startup.

There are a couple of issues.

First, it will only pass bitstreamed audio through hdmi. Anything you send through the optical port will be internally decoded to (IIRC) 5.1 PCM, though maybe I'm wrong and it'll send 7.1 PCM.

Second, it doesn't bitstream everything. TrueHD gets internally decoded to uncompressed PCM. This should be bit for bit identical to decoding it in a receiver, but people still bitch about it. It's not likely to ever be fixed because it's a hardware limitation of the design of the hdmi chip.

Third, it doesn't yet support DTS-HD MA at all, though that could be added in a firmware upgrade.

My 40GB PS3 is also quiet. Quieter than our DVP-642.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:29 AM on February 26, 2008

For those who want an IR remote for their PS3's. Not sure if it works with a universal or not, since I don't really care about it, just thought I'd throw this out there:

Also, I imagine some third party developer will come out with a little USB thing to plug in that will enable the universal remotes to work soon enough....I say go for the PS3, and make sure you get Warhawk when you do, cause that game rocks my socks!
posted by Grither at 7:10 AM on February 26, 2008

As someone has already mentioned its the only profile 2.0 player. 2.0 is probably what everyone will standardize on and will be the standard that goes on for sale this christmas when these things are really expected to take off. It is also network upgradable and Sony's flagship product. From the wikipedia entry on the PS3, "In addition, both Home Theater Magazine and Ultimate AV have given the system's Blu-ray playback very favorable reviews, stating that the quality of playback exceeds that of many current standalone Blu-ray players."

Your dillema is that you want a video game system over a bluray player. I would lean towards the 360 for its live experience and library of games. An add-on bluray player isnt too far away (supposedly) for this system.

The big problem with the ps3 is that it hasnt sold well. This means game developers not porting things over and losing exclusive licenses. This may not be a problem is the PS3 takes off this year, which it may or may not. Competition from both the Wii and the XBOX360 has been unusually harsh on Sony and Xbox has gotten more than its fair share of game exclusives.

So, I'd say if you want a good game system now then go with the 360. If you want a good bluray player now then go with the ps3.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:12 AM on February 26, 2008

Another piggy-back, if I may: will I have any problems running the HDMI out to DVI in and using an optical cable for audio? This thread suggests not, but it's all over the place. If anyone is doing this, what did you use for the HDMI to DVI cable?
posted by yerfatma at 9:07 AM on February 26, 2008

I won't echo what everyone else has said about the PS3 being a decent blue ray player (which is is and we're supremely happy with), but I think whether or not you'll enjoy it as a game system has more to do with the kind of games you like playing.

We own all three systems for different reasons.

If you're a hardcore first person shooter person, the 360 is the way to go. The downloadable HD movies and social gaming is far, far better than anything else as well. It was "Bioshock" and "Portal" that tipped us over. The child timer controls are very good and easy to use if you care about such things. That said, all the games beyond Viva Pinata seem to be some variation on a guy walking around with a weapon.

I've done a lot more gaming on our PS3 because I like smaller, quicker games - puzzles, Tekken, HD Q-bert, etc and I don't like paying $60 for any game. The Sony store is wonky as all hell, but it does have a ton of fun, cute, quick downloadable games that don't set you back $60 a pop. Also, Rock Band and Simpsons look and play beautifully on it (and we've got a lot of PS2 games we still wanted to play).

Now that HD is dead, the HD players for the 360 are cheap ($50), and the existing HD titles will likely do a fire sale crash as well, so you have ply yourself with HD for a while until the next wave of BluRay players come out.
posted by Gucky at 9:15 AM on February 26, 2008

An addendum: this morning Sony announced a new Blu-ray player, the BDP-S550, with 7.1 analog outputs and support for all the cool audio codecs. It debuts this fall for $500-600.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:49 AM on February 26, 2008

I am a PS3 owner. It was bought primarily for blu-ray playback, since at the time, there were no games I was interested in (though I realized that on the horizon were GTA4, GT5, and Little Big Planet). That Indiana Jones-esque game (Drake?) looks interesting.

BD playback looks great. No complaints. DVD playback pleasantly surprises, as the upscaling works really well.

I have the PS3 DVD remote. I wish it had a power-off button, and I believe that after some time of inactivity, it takes one extra button push to wake it up before it will do what you want.
posted by schmoppa at 1:59 PM on February 26, 2008

I have the PS3 DVD remote. I wish it had a power-off button

If you push and hold the PS button, then it goes to the "Turn off system" screen.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:13 AM on March 1, 2008

I just found that out myself last weekend. You can also turn it on using the PS button. It would be nice if there was a dedicated power button that didn't require hitting a couple menus before shutting down.
posted by schmoppa at 9:49 AM on March 5, 2008

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