PC Magazine was able to gets its hands on a Sony PlayStation 3 in advance of the Nov. 17 official launch. It is a debug unit, so not all of its features are functional, but, hey, that didnt stop us from loading up some games and taking this slick piece of hardware for a spin. At twice the size—and price—of its predecessor, the PS3 makes Sonys lofty ambitions pretty clear: This is much more than a gaming system. Sure, playing games is still the primary function—and drifting around corners in Ridge Racer 7 at 1080p is heart-stopping—but this system is clearly designed to do more than that. From replacing your DVD player to enabling you to view pictures, play music and watch YouTube videos on your TV easily, this is a set-top box for the next generation.
The PS3 will come in two varieties, neither of them cheap. A basic model costs $499.99 (direct) and comes with an upgradable 20GB hard drive, Gigabit Ethernet, Blu-ray drive, four USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI port. The premium version is even pricier, at $599.99, but it uses a 60GB hard drive and adds built in 802.11b/g plus card readers that support SD, Compact Flash and, you guessed it, Memory Stick. Neither of these systems comes with an HDMI cable, so if you have an HDTV, you will want to make sure you buy one of those as well.
I connected the PS3 via HDMI to the HP Pavilion md5880n, and the results were impressive. The system offered to choose the best possible setting for the TV and then automatically set itself for 1080p. The whole process took 8 minutes.