This is the inevitable question that every gamer who buys a new system is faced with. This dilemma has been made more complex by the shear raw power of the next gen consoles. What I mean to say is that the majority of PS3 owners are probably only doing 25-30% of what they could actually be doing with their PS3. But have no fear, Zo is here.
So you got this thing out of the box you have it hooked up and your at the home screen, now what? So the first thing I am going to tell you to do is get all your settings and stuff out of the way.
To start, if you have this baby hooked up to an HDTV that does 720p, 1080i, 1080p or any of the other higher definitions you are going to want to tell the PS3 that. A lot of people think that the PS3 will automatically upscale for games that go high definition but it won’t UNTIL you tell it that the TV can, otherwise it will render those games in regular old SD. To do this simply go to display settings and there is a section for video input. Tell it how you have the PS3 connected either with HDMI or D component cables I think. Anyway after that, it will go to a screen that ask you to select all the resolutions that your TV supports, by default only SD will be selected. Highlight all the resolutions its supports. The next step is telling your PS3, what is the default it should render in, set this to the highest resolution your TV supports. This will actually affect how a lot of other features appear because some of them like the PlayStation store are rendered differently depending on the resolution. So finish this step out and your done. Now anytime you play a game, the PS3 will upscale to the highest definition that either your TV or the game supports. Trust me this makes a real difference when playing some games that support the higher resolutions, so if you have an HDTV and don’t do this your are doing yourself an injustice.
The next thing I am going to tell you to do is hook that baby up to the Internet. Now if you don’t have internet you can skip this part, but I suggest you get Internet and come back to this section, a lot of the PS3’s coolest features are enabled through the Internet. (Note: If you do not have an Internet connection, you can stil get the system updates but you need to copy them to a USB stick first.) Now as you can probably figure out there are two ways to connect to the Internet, you can either run an Ethernet cord to it (wired) or you can go wireless. So the choice here is personal preference and what you have. After running a cord to it, the first few times I just got tired of it and decided to go wireless. I am an IT guy and it took the PS3 coming out for me to finally set up my wireless network lol.
So anyway either way you do it is pretty simple, if you do go wireless and have your own wireless network PLEASE make sure that it is secure. You do not want to broadcast your SSID, maybe set up an access control list, set it up not to respond to most queries over the Internet, and use encryption preferably WEP+TSA if your router supports it. Let me not get off track, that’s another post but if you guys really want me to write a post about how to properly set up and secure your wireless network, just leave it in the comments if there are enough people I will put it up on my Zo Knows Tech blog okay. Ok, so once you have got this baby hooked to the Internet your in business.
Now at this point what you are going to want to do is download the system update. Yes, yes I know that they are big and take anywhere btw 10-20 minutes depending on your connection but trust me they are worth it. Oh yeah, so the major question you really wanted answered about whether to go with a wired or wireless setup on your PS3 is “How is the performance online and is there any difference?”. The answer is in my opinion, No. As long as you have a pretty fast connection from your internet provider, and a good wireless router which should give you an “excellent” signal considering the proximity of the PS3 to the router your fine. I have played Madden 2008, where there is always some lag but I play Call of Duty 4 online all the time over my wireless connection and there is no lag at all. So I would say go wireless the performance is pretty much equal and it just looks cleaner to me personally.
So what’s next? You need to sign up for the Playstation Network. It won’t cost you anything but about 10-15 minutes to set up your account. The value of being signed up for the PlayStation Network is that you can send text and images to any of your friends that may be signed on at the time. This is also what allows to connect to the PlayStation Store. In the PlayStation Store you can download lots of old games and save them to your PS3’s hard drive, some of the games are classics and for an average of btw 4.99-9.99 a pop they are not a bad deal if you have a game from the old days you really love. But that’s not the best part you can also download video trailers for upcoming games (GTA4 and DMC4), movies (Untraceable and Dark Knight), and DVDs.
But wait that’s not even the best part, you can actually download playable demos of upcoming games for free. This is my favorite feature, not all the games are demos before they come out but some pretty good ones do come there like Timesplitters, Uncharted and Ratchet & Clank were both demos before they came out. This way you can play them before you buy them and save yourself the disappointment. You can also get Themes and Backgrounds for your PS3 from here too.
So now you are saying well what else is there? Plenty. So the PS3 can also import all your favorite CD’s right to its hard drive for play later, you can’t listen to them during gameplay yet but it is still good to be able to do so you won’t have to keep up with CD’s. An even cooler option is to set up either a video or music media server from which you can stream content straight to the PS3. This is cool and with the right software you can be up and running in less than 15 minutes, just search “media server” on the site for the details. Did I mention you can control your PS3 remotely using your PSP?
Before you even say it, yes it annoyed me too that whenever I put in a game or movie that it autoplayed. To either stop this or for folks just setting it up to never have this problem, simply go to settings and I think its BD/DVD settings and disable autoplay. Save yourself the headache now. If you are feeling generous and want to help a good cause, when you are not using your PS3 you can become part of the Folding@Home project which is under the network tab. Every computer and PS3 takes the project closer to their goals. Folding@home uses novel computational methods coupled to distributed computing, to simulate problems millions of times more challenging than previously achieved.
Sony really had the right idea when they made the PS3 really software based as far as its mechanism for expanding the capability and functions of the PS3. This way they have given themselves the ability to make sure the PS3 is relevant for years to come because they can add new capability as they come out all through software updates. Now there are a lot of other things to do, but if you have done all these things then you have the basics down, now get playing.