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HD Disc Players:
Toshiba HD-XA2, Panasonic DMP-BD10,
Pioneer Elite BDP-HD1, Sony Playstation 3

Bill Livolsi, June 25, 2007

Sony Playstation 3 (60GB)

Sony's new Playstation 3 is an odd bird. Not only is it the most powerful game system currently on the market, but it is also a Blu-Ray player -- one of the least expensive Blu-Ray players on the market. As such, it appeals to a wider audience than perhaps any game system yet released. Lightning-fast response times and an unbeatable price make the PS3 a unique value.

The PS3 comes in a sleek, shiny case, but you'll need to make some room on your equipment shelf. With a 13" x 11" footprint and a 4" height, it's not exactly tiny, and the curved top means that it must go on the top of your equipment stack. Luckily, it's not an eyesore.

The PS3 comes out of the box ready for gaming - its primary purpose. If you are going to use it as a dedicated Blu-Ray player, there are some items you should think about purchasing. For one, an HDMI cable or at least component cables are crucial, as the PS3 cannot output 720p, 1080i, or 1080p over anything less. Secondly, the PS3 Blu-Ray remote helps make the PS3 feel less like a game system and more like a standalone player. You'll need to purchase the official Sony remote, though, as the PS3 uses bluetooth as opposed to infrared. Universal remotes will not function with the PS3.

Video output goes up to 1080p/60 - including 1080p/24. Video quality is on par with the Panasonic and Pioneer players, which is an outstanding accomplishment for a device that costs less than half as much as the competition.

The PS3 also uses HDMI 1.3, which means that it will be compatible in the future with many HDMI 1.3 A/V receivers and processors. However, audio output options are much more limited than the other players. The PS3 can output audio over HDMI or over TOSlink optical, but those are the only options for 5.1 surround. While this is a relatively minor concern for most people, those looking for 5.1 analog outputs or coaxial output need to look elsewhere.

The real kicker, though, is that the PS3 can be had for as little as $600. For a lot of people, this brings Blu-Ray players into the realm of affordability, and gives the format a price-competitive stepping stone in its war against HD DVD. If you're not too picky about audio outputs, or if you planned to use HDMI exclusively to begin with, the PS3 is a fantastic value, hands-down.

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Review Contents: Introduction Toshiba HD XA2 Panasonic DMP BD10 Pioneer Elite BDP HD1
  Sony Playstation 3