Apr 282007

I am one of those weird people who have bought the PS3 primarily as a film player … to play DVDs and BD-ROMs (Blue-Ray). Oh, I will play the occasional game, but I’ve rarely found a game that is worth spending hours on … not that I have a problem with games or anything, it is just I’m too busy to dedicate that much time to them. This little piece is about the experience of using PS3s to play movies; it could be called a review, but I am not being that formal.

Firstly the experience of setting up the PS3 to talk to an HD TV is not pleasant. This is probably not solely Sony’s fault, but when using the HDMI cable my TV shows no picture. This is probably due to my TV not supporting 576p and the PS3 defaulting to this resolution whilst asking what resolution to use. Resorting to a component cable works fine. However this is hardly plug and play!

Playing back DVDs using the included SCART lead produces a picture that stomps my ancient Toshiba into the ground. Playing back DVDs over the component cables is not quite so good probably because the necessary upscaling is done by my TV which does not do a great job. Overall, good enough that the Toshiba is being retired.

Playing back BD-ROMs is as good as I expected … a big improvement over DVD although not quite as noticeable as the improvement from VHS to DVD.

Lastly there have been quite a few PS3 reviews that have criticised the use of the game controller to control film playback. The common theme is that the controls are somewhat inconvenient to access all the features. Well, I find it perfectly adequate … if all you generally do is hit “Play” and “Pause” (as I suspect most people do) then the controller works perfectly well. Just hit the big X button to do both. Now those who want to playback films upside down at 1/16th the original speed may find the controller inconvenient, but they can buy a more conventional controller.

Using Bluetooth as the protocol for the remote instantly struck me as a bit of an issue … I won’t be able to use my Phillips Pronto to control the PS3. Howvere whilst I would still like that, on using it, Bluetooth strikes me as much better than Infrared. Ever waved a remote at the TV only to find that some component on the floor is blocked and is not listening ? Bluetooth ends that.

Overall the PS3 is a pretty good film player although putting DVD upscaling into the PS3 would be beneficial (this is rumoured to be coming in a firmware update) and adding a USB dongle to allow infrared remote control would be a bonus.

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