Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Friday, 10 November 2006

Factfile: The PlayStation 3

Sony's PlayStation debuted in Japan in 1994 and has been widely credited with making gaming a much more mainstream activity.

The latest in the series, the PlayStation 3, was first launched in Japan on 11 November 2006. Get a taste for the machine by clicking on the links below.

Internal HardwareBlu-ray driveUSBHDMISixaxis controllerEthernetMedia readers

INTERNAL HARDWARE

Cell processor: The IBM-designed Cell processor is the heart of the PS3. It has 234 million transistors and the first versions run at 3.2GHz. It is split into different processing cores that can handle different types of task at the same time.

PRICE CHECK

Nintendo Wii: 249 euros (179)
PlayStation 3: 399 euros (299) for the 40GB version
Xbox 360: 370 euros (260) for the 120GB version, 270 euros (200) for the Premium system (20 GB hard drive) and 200 euros (160) for the Arcade system

Games developers are only just getting to grips with the processing power of next generation consoles.

While games for the Xbox 360 and PS3 look a lot better than games for older consoles, they feel much the same in terms of how on-screen enemies react, the physics of the game worlds and range of facial expressions shown by computer controlled characters.

Graphics chip: Designed by Nvidia for the PS3 the RSX graphics processing unit helps the console create high-definition images. The unit runs at 550MHz and uses 300 million transistors.

Hard drive: The console has a 20, 40, 60 or 80GB hard drive on board - depending on which bundle is bought and in which country. Sony has said the hard drive can be upgraded - this might be essential for those using it as a media hub. Only the 40GB version is available in Europe.

Wi-fi net connection: This is available on all but the 20GB version and uses standard wireless technology to make it easy to hook the console up to the internet. It also allows a PSP to be connected to the device.

HDMI PORT

The High-Definition Multimedia Interface [HDMI] serves as the link between the PS3 and a high-definition display which you will need if you want to play PS3 games in their full graphical glory.

It is on all versions of the console and enable games and movies to be shown in high-definition.

SIXAXIS CONTROLLER

Resembles the old dual shock controller, but it has motion sensors on board rather than the vibration system. This allows it to be used in a much more intuitive way to control equipment, such as swords or rackets, in games. It works via cable or wireless and comes included within the console package.

An earlier "banana", or "boomerang" design for the controller has been abandoned.

BLU-RAY DRIVE

A drive that can play high-definition movies is included in both versions of the PS3. This could make the console attractive because, although it is expensive for a game-playing gadget, it is cheap compared to many Blu-ray players.

Most people will probably use this to connect their console to the net to get at the Sony online gaming system - the PlayStation Network. Via this online gaming service users are able to take others on or download updates and extras for the games they own. The net link can work at 10, 100 or 1,000 megabits per second.

The power supply adaptor is built in to the machine, so the PS3 does not have the "brick" seen on many other gadgets such as laptops.

Six USB slots (two front and four back) will make it possible to connect a variety of peripherals including a keyboard, so the console can be used for text chat via the PlayStation Network.

MEDIA READERS

The 60 and 80GB versions of the PS3 comes with a flash memory card reader that can handle memory sticks, compact flash or SD cards. This is hidden under a flap on the front left hand side of the console.

The cards can be used store save game information for any PlayStation game.




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