It's 6.00am on a hazy Sunday morning in Mumbai. I sneak out silently to our living room, trying not to wake the wife and kid. The low morning light reveals my Denon powered home theatre system and my series-5 Samsung LCD TV—both purchased in the year 2005, and now begging to be upgraded. I draw the curtains, and I slip Gran Turismo 5 into a glossy Sony PlayStation 3. I begin cranking out blistering laps, and then lean back satisfied while the screen loops a replay. This was when it first occurred to me that the PlayStation 3 is the only piece of tech in my house that has really stood the test of time.
The console has now been with me for about 5 years, an eternity in today’s age of use-and-throw tech. In the last half-a-decade or so, I’ve been through more mobile phones and notebooks than I’d like to admit, but this shiny black box has stayed put. It has monopolized the space under my TV. And nothing to date has come even close to dislodging it from its throne. Who would’ve thought that the PS3 would’ve been so phenomenally future proof? In fact, it’s only now that its entertainment and gaming potential is fully being realized. I can’t think of any other consumer device, apart from home appliances, that have this sort of legendary longevity. I also own the Xbox 360 and know that it was launched a year or so earlier than the PS3, but I still think the credit for creating a future-proof console with a Blu-Ray player, which could also double-up as a media center hub goes solely to Sony.
Its entertainment capabilities are more relevant to me today, than they ever were. Over the last few years I’ve gone from a hardcore gamer to a casual weekend gamer and the PS3 in recent times has done more entertainment and movie duty than gaming. It’s amazing how versatile this console is, and to think that the device was launched in 2006 makes you wonder if we’d ever have another launch of this kind.
For me 3 major features have helped the PS3 win this marathon run. Yes, all of the features I will explain below will sound a bit old and obvious. But it’s rare that technology even gives you a chance to list what was cutting-edge back then as top-of-the-line today:
Blu-ray from the get-go
During the first couple of years of my ownership I struggled to get the movies I loved on Blu-ray, and would often hunt for them whenever I traveled out of the country. Today I have a decent sized collection, and I watch them all on my PS3. It all sounds trivial now, but when I first bought the PS3, even the most basic of all Blu-ray players were selling for nothing less than Rs 50,000, and the PS3 was retailing for about half that price. Sure the HD-DVD and Blu-ray battle settling in Sony’s favour greatly helped this cause, but they sure as hell placed the right bet back then. With regular firmware upgrades, the player’s capability set has also kept pace. The console can now play 3D Blu-ray discs, and can be connected to a 3DTV purchased in 2011 without the need to buy a separate player.
Blu-Ray player built-in
Media Center capabilities
There was a time when a purpose-built home theatre PC was connected to my TV all the time. It was my media server: music, movies and games were all played via that box. But the thing required a mini nuclear power-plant to run. It was ugly and unwieldy to move around and keep in the living room. But most importantly, it made too much noise, and collected too much dust in its innards. I slowly migrated to the PS3, and although there are some storage related limitations, everything now gets routed through the PS3. The PS3 also has optical out and I route digital audio directly to my A/V receiver to power my speakers. The PS3 is also fully DLNA compliant, and I have it up via Wi-Fi and a wired connection to my PC to stream content.
Simple and user friendly
Crossbar XMB Interface and Wireless Controller
I think this one’s quite a big deal. My PS3 controller keeps its full charge for weeks on end. Sure my usage is low, but it keeps its charge, and that’s what matters. For casual gamers who fire up their console on the odd weekend this means a lot, because looking at a dead controller means lost time for charging, just when you have a little time to play. The controller is easy to figure out and with the XMB interface makes for a combination that I haven’t yet seen beaten. The interface is what really nails it for me and is what has made the PS3 open up to non-gamers. Having used it for so long, I can use it blindfolded, but that’s no big deal. What is definitely a huge deal is the fact that it is one of the few controller-menu combinations that my mom is not intimidated by, and is able to use without ever getting stuck.
I think the Sony PS3 should become a reference benchmark of sorts, one that manufacturers should aspire measuring up to. Not only has it held its value over the years, but it has also gone on to enhance its capabilities, and is still considered to be as good as it gets.
But you know what really makes me doff my hat? The PS3 has kept the most vociferous, cantankerous, and perpetually dissatisfied bunch of consumers hooked and addicted to it. Now go and find me a mobile phone that will remain top of the heap for the next 5-years.