PS3 Gets Into Next-Gen Video Game
Microsoft's designs on the living room entertainment experience have always been crystal clear in the Xbox 360. They wanted to run video and advertising here pretty much from Day 1. Sony's ambitions with the Playstation 3, aside from winning the hi-def disc wars with Blu-ray, were less clear. They were slow to expand their video library and have always suffered from a poor content navigation interface, I believe. This week, however, Sony poured it on. They announced today the availability of Hulu Plus for select members. This finally brings Hulu formally into the living room. They claim to be the only game-dedicated console that will have Hulu in 2010, which makes me wonder whatever happened to the purported Xbox 360 deal.
But wait, there's more. Replaying the Blu-ray scenario, Sony is also using the PS3 as a wedge to advance the 3D phneom that is driving so much of the TV market. They pushed out a firmware upgrade recently that makes the PS3 compatible with 3-D games and upgrades the HDMI output to 1.4 to handle the signal. A September upgrade will support Blu-ray 3-D movies and later in the year there will be support for 3-D photos, camcorder video and 3-D broadcasts. It expect to stream and support YouTube's upcoming 3-D implementation.
The difference between Microsoft's strategy and Sony's is that Microsoft wants to get media, marketing and advertising into the living room via its box. Sony seems more interested in using the PS3 to sell the other hardware in its massive portfolio. In playing around with the PS3 it is easy to forget that Sony also owns a major film studio and TV production company and online video hub.
The problem with the PS3 is that it is still a lousy streaming media box with a horrific interface. I am not sure if they even bothered upgrading the anemic WiFi-G connectivity in later models, but wireless bandwidth sucks for me compared to my 802.11n/a Xbox and Apple TV. The dual-axis interface and Playstation Network Store are nightmares to navigate even with a dedicated remote. Even the Netflix implementation is whacked. It requires having a disc in the player to access the online movies.
I have to admit cringing when I heard that my PS3 would be the first best route to Hulu plus on my TV. The company continues to leverage its PS3 in a ham-handed way that appears to serve its business interests before the needs of the consumer. Maybe they need to revisit this console with their 3-D glasses on.