The PlayStation 3 (officially marketed PLAYSTATION 3, commonly abbreviated PS3) is the third home video game console produced by Sony Computer Entertainment and successor to the PlayStation 2 as part of the PlayStation series. The PlayStation 3 competes with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Nintendo’s Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game systems.
A major feature that distinguishes the PlayStation 3 from its predecessors is its unified online gaming service, the PlayStation Network,which contrasts with Sony’s former policy of relying on games’ developers for online play. Other major features of the console include its robust multimedia capabilities, connectivity with the PlayStation Portable, and its use of a next-gen optical media, Blu-ray Disc, as its primary storage medium.
The PlayStation 3 was first released on November 11, 2006, in Japan, November 17, 2006 in North America,and March 23, 2007 in Europe and Oceania, with two stock keeping units (SKUs): a basic version with a 20 GB hard disk drive (HDD), and a premium version with a 60 GB HDD and several additional features. (The 20 GB version was not released in Europe or Oceania.) Since then, the console has had several revisions made to its available SKUs and has faced stiff competition from the other seventh generation consoles. As of December 20, 2007, the PS3 is in third place in home console sales for its generation.
Sony officially unveiled the PlayStation 3 to the public on May 16, 2005, during the E3 2005 conference. A functional version of the system was not present there nor at the Tokyo Game Show in September 2005,although demonstrations (such as Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots) were held at both events on devkits and comparable PC hardware.Video footage based on the predicted PlayStation 3 specifications was also shown (e.g. Mobile Suit Gundam).
The system was initially planned to have two HDMI ports, three Ethernet ports and six USB ports, though, as shown at E3 2006, this was later reduced to one HDMI port, one ethernet port and four USB ports, presumably to cut costs. Also announced were two configurations of the console, a “60 GB” and “20 GB”, for $599/€599 and $499/€499 respectively. The 60 GB would be the only configuration to feature a HDMI port, Wi-Fi internet, flash card readers, and a chrome trim with the logo in silver. It was announced for a global release date, November 11 for Japan and November 17 for North America and Europe.
On September 6, 2006, Sony announced that the PAL region (Europe and Oceania) PlayStation 3 launch would be delayed until March 2007 due to a shortage of diodes used in the Blu-ray Disc drive.
At the Tokyo Game Show on September 22, 2006, Sony announced that it would be including HDMI on the 20 GB system with a silver logo, but not the chrome trim, flash card readers, or Wi-Fi. Also, the launch price of the Japanese 20 GB model was reduced by over 20%and the 60 GB model was announced for an open pricing scheme in Japan. During the show, Sony demonstrated 27 playable PS3 titles running on final.
The PlayStation 3 version of the XrossMediaBar (pronounced Cross Media Bar, or abbreviated XMB) includes nine categories of options. These include: Users, Settings, Photo, Music, Video, Game, Network, PlayStation Network, and Friends (similar to the PlayStation Portable media bar). The PS3 includes the ability to store various master and secondary user profiles, manage and explore photos with or without a musical slideshow, play music and copy audio CD tracks to an attached storage device, play movies and video files from the hard disk drive, an optional USB mass storage or Flash card, or an optical disc (Blu-ray Disc or DVD-Video), compatibility for a USB keyboard and mouse, and a full web browser supporting in/compatible file download function.The Friends menu allows mail with emoticon and attached picture features and video chat which requires an optional PlayStation Eye or Eyetoy webcam. The Network menu allows online shopping through the PlayStation Store.