Sony Playstation 3

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I really am slacking aren’t I? Things have not been letting up and my poor blog is suffering but I will now make yet another attempt to make regular posts. So, what has made me want to post again, well, I recently purchased a PS3 and I am truly amazed with what a good piece of kit it is. After HD-DVD died I thought about getting a decent Blu-Ray player. I currently own two Blu-Ray players: my Sony Vaio AR11S laptop and a Samsung BDP-1000. Even though the former is a multi-region player, it struggles to play Blu-Ray discs that are not encoded in MPEG-2. Simply put, the laptop is just not powerful enough to playback AVC or VC-1 encoded Blu-Ray discs. The latter, however, is a quality player that I picked up very cheaply but it only plays region B Blu-Ray discs and takes a long time to load up some titles. Some users have even reported that the Samsung will not play some releases.

The PS3 has received numerous favourable reviews as a Blu-Ray player with many purchasing it to use primarily for this purpose. Even though I would not consider myself to be a ‘gamer’ as such, the added bonus of playing games is yet another welcome attraction. So, I decided to take a bit of a risk and purchase a US PS3 as US Blu-Ray discs and PS3 games are much cheaper than UK ones and I can use the Samsung BDP-1000 to playback any UK discs I own. I ordered the player from the ever reliable MovieTyme as they offered a bundle that contained a free Blu-Ray copy of Spider-Man 3 (2007) , eight other Blu-Ray discs of your choice and the Blu-Ray remote control that unfortunately is not included as standard. I ordered it on a Monday and it arrived on the Thursday. Thankfully, the PS3 is multi-voltage and, unlike most US electronic hardware, does not require a step-down transformer. All you would need is a 5amp 3-pin ‘kettle’ lead and you are good to go.

To put it simply and with as little hyperbole as possible, for its price, this is the best Blu-Ray player currently available. Disc loading times are not an issue and the firmware can be upgraded to allow new features. Another bonus is that PS3 Blu-Ray player is future proof, for now, unlike some of the earlier Blu-Ray machines like the Samsung BDP-1000 which will not be able to access all of the disc content on recent releases. The UK disc of Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) looked superb but one of the best Blu-Ray releases I have seen so far is No Country for Old Men (2007). The level of detail on this disc is astounding. But what is even more impressive about the PS3 is its other features. It has built in wi-fi, upscales DVDs (sadly only region one discs) and will playback the majority of media files. This is just the tip of the iceberg though. Unlike other consoles, the PS3 allows the user to have greater control of the console. You can upgrade the internal harddrive with relative ease (instructions are included in the PS3 manual!) and even install a separate operating system. Linux has been successfully run on the PS3 system, albeit with some limitations, by some users which is very exciting as Xbox Media Center is currently being rebuilt to run on Linux operating systems. This means that my trusty old Xbox could soon be replaced as my main media center. The capabilities are there and it is just a matter of time before XBMC is ready.

So with a PS3 you are not just purchasing a high-quality, upgradeable Blu-Ray player and a games console but also a powerful media center. I have successfully played back a number of MPEG-4 files from my USB flash drive and now I am considering purchasing a cheap external 500gb harddrive. I find it hard to believe that upon its launch the PS3 did not sell as many units as expected. Now, with HD-DVD well and truly dead, demand for the PS3 is increasing as people are now starting to see the potential of this machine being a powerful media center.

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