The first thing you notice after unboxing the PS3 is that it's sexy as hell. It has nice rounded edges and a high-gloss black case (with chic chrome accents in the stepped-up 60 GB version). The console just screams high tech and will certainly look right at home in any A/V rack. The PS3 can stand on its side, and if you have a finite amount of space next to a TV, that might be an important feature. Like your black iPod, however, the case is a CSI crime lab dream when it comes to fingerprints and smudges, so you may want to enforce the grade-school "look with your eyes, not your hands" rule with any visitors.
Al lamented the PS3's fan noise, but it is obvious that this fan is needed. The PS3 runs hot. Put your hand behind it and you can feel hot air pouring out of the back. While I never had any thermal shutdowns, don't expect the console to cooperate with a marathon gaming session if you have it cooped up in a confined space. It also draws mucho power - somewhere around 2 amps. That's more than my 7 x 120-watt THX Ultra receiver or my 61-inch HDTV. Interestingly, Sony managed to keep the power supply internal, in stark contrast to the giant-ass power brick that accompanies the PS3's closest rival, Microsoft's Xbox 360.
Sony has kept the chassis as sleek and aerodynamic as possible, with nary a raised button on the front panel. In fact, there are only two soft buttons: Power and Eject. Discs feed into a slot (similar to a car stereo's), which is a welcome feature for a gaming system because it eliminates the worry that someone will walk by after too many beers and accidentally break off the disc tray in mid-load. A small flip-up door conceals Compact Flash, Memory Stick, and SD card slots, and four USB jacks reside on the bottom half of the front panel. As clean as the system looks, it would have been nice if there were one or more USB connections on the back panel as well. If you want to have a permanently attached USB device (such as additional storage or a wireless USB keyboard receiver), the wiring will constantly stick out the front, marring the otherwise slick look.
Music and Photos and Internet, Oh My!
You might think that being a Blu-ray player and a next-gen gaming console would be enough, but with companies fighting for real estate in the digital living room, you have to do more these days. After experiencing the Xbox 360's media extender features with a PC running Media Center Edition, I must admit that my bar was raised pretty high indeed.
Unfortunately, the PS3 doesn't offer any of the 360's streaming functionality. If you want to enjoy any media, it needs to either be stored on the PS3's hard drive or directly connected to it.
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