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Under the Hood: PlayStation 3

On display for the first time at E3 2006, the PlayStation 3 has evolved since its announcement last year. As expected, the specs have been scaled back and Sony has chosen to offer two versions of the PlayStation 3 in an attempt to appeal to the cost-conscious.

Retailing for $599 is the system that most gamers will want when they head to the store this November. Featuring a Blu-ray Disc drive, a 60GB hard drive, four USB ports, memory stick slots, Ethernet and WiFi for Internet connectivity, and the highest-end video output (HDMI), the system is fully loaded.

thumb_screen017.jpg  20 GB  Version

The cheaper version of the PlayStation 3 will retail for $499 and keeps the Blu-ray drive, but the hard drive is reduced in size to 20GB, there are no ports for memory sticks, and WiFi has been removed. The HDMI port is also absent. Unlike the two Xbox 360 versions, it's impossible to fully upgrade the basic version of the PlayStation 3. If you want to snag all of the advanced features, you must pick up the more expensive system at the outset.

Missing from both versions is the promised dual-screen, 1080p support (that's 1920x1080 resolution in progressive scan), as well as the multiple Ethernet ports. The controller has also been changed. Last year's boomerang design is out and the standard Dual Shock is back in. Only now the controller has gone wireless and it's lost the "shock" (the rumble feedback).

thumb_screen018.jpg  60 GB Version

According to Sony, it had a choice between adding motion sensing technology similar to the Nintendo Wii or keeping in the rumble feature, and it opted for the former. Skeptics have speculated that the choice had more to do with Immersion's lawsuit against Sony than with technology, but the company is keeping mum on that front. The lawsuit alleges that the popular PlayStation 2 controller infringes on Immersion's patents and asks for nearly $100 million in damages.

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