PlayStation 3

Image Caption: Sony’s PlayStation 3 gaming console. Credit: Sony

The PlayStation 3 (PS3) released on November 11, 2006 in Japan and November 17, 2006 in North America. It was released globally in March 2007. The PS3 is a game console manufactured by Sony Computer Entertainment and uses Blu-ray Disc as its primary storage. Within the first 24 hours of release 81,639 units were sold in Japan. As of January 2013, over 77 million units worldwide have been sold.

The original PS3 was offered in 20, 40, 60, 80 or 160 GB hard drives, upgradeable to 500 GB, with a 3.2 Ghz CPU and 256 MB RAM. It includes 2 controllers, USB cable, a video/audio output cable, an Ethernet cable, and power cable. All versions included Wi-Fi capabilities except the 20 GB model. The PS3 supports use of Blu-ray discs, DVDs, CDs, PS1, and PS2 game discs. Online use is the PlayStation Network. The 20 and 60 GB versions has four USB ports and flash card readers, while the 40, 80, and 160 GB versions only have two USB ports and no flash card reader.

On September 1, 2009, the PS3 Slim was released globally. It was slimmer, quieter, and the start splash screen was not used. It has upgradeable hard drives of 120, and 250 GB. A Final Fantasy XIII PS3 special edition was released on September 24, 2009, which is white with pink designs. In July 2010, Sony announced a 160 and 320 GB version of the Slim would be released and the 120 GB version would be discontinued. On July 29, 2010 the new versions were released in Japan, and by the end Of October everywhere else. The 320 GB version was part of a bundle with PlayStation Move, a PlayStation Eye (camera), and a copy of Sports Champions.

A super slim version was released in October 2012 in 12 GB, 250 GB and 500 GB versions with a sliding disc cover instead of slot loading drive. An available vertical stand was released at the same time. These versions of the PS3 are the only ones currently in production.

There are numerous accessories for the PS3 that are available including wireless Sixaxis and DualShock 3 controllers, remote, camera, and a digital video recorder. On October 13, 2010 a surround sound system became available.

Updates are available for the operating system by an active internet connection directly from the PlayStation Network into the PS3, download the update into a PC then transfer update into the PS3, or some updates are included on game discs.

On the main screen a cross media bar is displayed with the following options: users, settings, photo, music, video, game, network, PlayStation Network and friends. The PS3 has the ability to store user profiles, manage photos, play music, videos, and movies. A USB mouse or keyboard can be used and the PS3 is capable of video chat, online shopping, and can be connected with the PlayStation Portable.

The PS3 has a digital rights management function which limit’s the use of data. This allows users who purchase games and content from the PlayStation Network to access up to five different PS3’s with the users PlayStation Network ID. It also limits the transfer of copy protected media to other devices.

Some available applications are photo gallery, PlayMemories Studio for viewing 3D images, video editing app, and multiple video streaming apps. VidZone was added in June 2009, NetFlix in November 2009, in April 2010, MUBI in November 2010, NFL Sunday Ticket in August 2011, CinemaNow from Best Buy in October 2011, and Amazon Instant Video in April 2012.

The PlayStation Network is a service for free multiplayer online gaming, access to the PlayStation Store, PlayStation Home, and other services. PlayStation Plus is a subscription service that allows the subscriber to access demos, automatic game and system updates, and premium downloadable content. The PlayStation Store is an online market for PS3 users to access downloadable content including games, add-ons, demos, themes, and movies for purchase, with some free content available. The Network has new content added weekly.

The ‘What’s New’ section was released on September 1, 2009, with a software update that has news from the users region via the PlayStation website is displayed on the PS3 screen. The content displayed is Our Pick, Recently Played, latest information and new content. This service is available in North America and Japan only.

PlayStation Home is a free virtual 3D social network service that allows the users to create an avatar, customize it, and is able to interact with others users. Another release is Life, which uses a virtual globe to display news and information from around the world by city. It also lets the user access the Weather Channel, University of Wisconsin-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center along with other sources. Other channels are the World Heritage channel, the United Village channel, and the PlayStation Network Game Trailers Channel – USA only.

There are currently 772 games available for the PS3 with 595 million sold as of March 31, 2012. There are currently 63 3D games available for the PS3.

Third party developers have made some USB accessories allowing users to copy original games onto the hard drive or an external hard drive. These devices were JailBreak, PS3 Key, and PS3 Break. Other devices for the PS3 are PS Groove and Backup Manager.

In November 2010 the Air Force Research Laboratory connected 1,760 PS3s together to create a supercomputer called the Condor Cluster used to analyze high definition satellite imagery.