It came as no surprise that the main focus of the huge Sony stand was PlayStation 3 – the entire central portion of the stand was given over to PS3, but PSP was also given a huge area. With an official price of almost $600, Sony needed to make it perfectly clear that its next gen console would be worth the asking price. Of course you can pay less for a PS3, but for your $499 you only get a 20GB hard disk instead of a 60GB one and HDMI is off the menu.
But it’s not just the hard disk and digital output that get cut on the cheaper PS3. The 60GB version also has a MemoryStick slot (something that the PS2 should have had), but if you’re not a fan of Sony’s memory card format, this PS3 will also accept CompactFlash and SD cards. But the most compelling reason to go for the 60GB unit is that it has integrated WiFi – this is something that the Xbox 360 should have had, but I guess MS wanted to sell those USB WiFi adapters. Of course using a USB adapter or a wireless bridge works, but integrated WiFi is a far more elegant solution.
This was the first time that I’d seen the PS3 up close and it was a lot larger than I had expected. There were silver and black consoles on display, although considering that both iterations of the PS2 were black, I think I prefer the look of the silver one. Also on show was the “new” PS3 controller. Gone is the boomerang shaped unit that debuted with the console last year and in its place is, well, the same old PlayStation controller. OK, to be fair it’s not the same old controller – these ones are wireless and will charge via a mini-USB socket on the front of the controller. The controller should be able to last for around 24 hours on a single charge. There will also be a motion sensor implemented into the controllers to allow basic tilting controls much like the Wii, although the controllers on show didn’t have this feature.
Although the PS3 controller may look almost identical to the older versions, once you grab hold of it and start playing a game you realise that Sony has made some major improvements. Most evident is the sensitivity of the analogue sticks – whereas the analogue sticks on the PS2 controllers felt very clumsy, these ones allow far more subtle movements. The trigger buttons also have a far more tactile feel to them and actually feel more like triggers than before.