Comparing: Xbox 360 and Playstation 3

(Image from counteragent.com)

Once again I'm a little late to the nerd party but yesterday I got my hands on a Playstation 3, so I thought I'd do a little compare and contrast about the various merits and otherwise of it and the Xbox 360.

I should mention that I haven't played games on the PS3 yet or watched a Bluray movie, this is much more of a first impressions kind of deal.

For the record, I'm comparing the PS3 with the 40GB hard drive, which retails for around $700 (Australian) to the XBOX 360 Pro, which comes with a 20GB hard drive and retails for around $500 (Aus). The PS3 came as a bonus with the new tv and given the pricing, I probably wouldn't have bought one otherwise.

Setup: The PS3 was marginally simpler to physically connect - just the three cables - power, controller (not always required) and HDMI connection to the tv. (Not included but better than the perfectly adequate A/V cables. The PS3 manages to do without the brick sized power supply of the 360. The 360 has a similar set up configuration but the HDMI slot is in the same space as the A/V cables (including the optical audio slot) which is a little problematic if you don't have a digital tv.

Initial onscreen setup was similar for the two - though the PS3 seems to have more options.

PS3 narrow win for the lack of the brick power supply.

Look and feel: Sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and until I had actually seen the PS3, I was perfectly happy with the friendly yet robust appearance of the 360. I like its big easy buttons and the circle theme it has going on, with the 4 way divided circle around the power button telling you which controllers are being used. The PS3 however has a sexy black finish like a concert piano and smooth curves. The power and eject buttons - well controls really - are simply touch areas on the pretty pretty surface. Very slick.

PS3 wins.

Controllers: The PS3 controller is pretty much the same as the ones used in the last two playstations - except now it is wireless. It connects via a standard USB to miniUSB cable to the PS3 and uses this to recharge. (It doesn't have removable/replaceable batteries). I haven't put this through its paces yet with a lengthy gaming session but the supplied cable is just a tiny bit too short to play with comfortably. Overall it feels a little too light. It does however seem more responsive than the 360 controller in terms of the way it talks to the console.

The 360 controller has a nice solid heft to it and the triggers seem a more natural shape for the fingers to rest on. Again, I haven't played games on the PS3 so it's not a fair comparison necessarily but I've played enough on the PS2 to be able to make some assumptions. The battery chewing ways of the 360 controller can be kind of maddening however.

360 for the win on design and feel.

Media playback: Again, I haven't had a lot of time with the PS3 though I did watch a few episodes of Heroes on DVD and didn't notice any real difference between this and the 360. It also found my media server pretty quickly and painlessly. The interface on the 360 for media is a little simpler and more user friendly. I haven't tried bluray yet but I'm assuming it will be better.

The PS3 is also whisper quiet, compared to the whirry whirry 360.

PS3 by a nose.

Games: There aren't a lot of games that you can't play on either system (or at least ones that I'm interested in) so for me this is neither here nor there. Not having played any games on the PS3 yet, it's not something I can comment on either, though from reports the graphics are meant to be slightly better. Backwards compatability however is an issue that I've already bumped into - the PS3 that I have doesn't played PS2 games (of which I have maybe a dozen) whereas the 360 does play Xbox games. (Strangely enough, the PS3 will play PS1 games - go figure.)

Given that the more expensive 60GB PS3 can play PS2 games, this is kind of annoying.

XBOX 360 wins.

Online: Online gameplay costs you money on the 360 but is free on the PS3. I haven't spent much time in the PS3 online store but the 360 online store has a great range of demos, game addons and videos/movies in an easy to use space. The PS3 has an Internet browser though. (Seriously Microsoft - what's so hard about that?). In terms of connectivity - the PS3 allegedly has wireless (it could see the wireless router but wouldn't talk to it - a widely documented bug apparently) so technically it's better though not functionally.

PS3 wins.

Other stuff: The main other functionality that the PS3 offers is that it can connect to the PSP and you can do pretty well anything you like on the PSP that you can do on the PS3. (Except watch dvds). I was able to play one of my PS1 games and watch a video from the media server. Oh and watch YouTube videos - something that the PSP itself still doesn't support. Don't ask me why exactly you would bother doing this if you have the big screen right there in front of you but it is kind of nifty.

PS3 by a knockout.

So by my count, it's the PS3 up by 5 to 2 at this point. (Acknowledging that this is a very preliminary overview)