Updated PS3 MultiMedia Details
We reported on Phil Harrison's brief demonstration of the PS3 Media Cross Bar (XMB) at TGS last month, and now more details have come to light. Thanks to Impress Watch, a recent feature has outlined some juicy new tidbits of info regarding the PS3's MultiMedia.
Getting right down to business: by selecting "Display Settings," you gain access to a menu for closing your display connection. You can also choose from "Component or D Cable," "Composite or S-Video," and "AV Multi or SCART." The menu clearly displays pictures for each plug, so even the most technologically challenged shouldn't have any trouble getting set up.
The PS3 will be able to select resolution settings automatically, but if you want to take care of this manually, you can select 480p, 1080i, 720p, 1080p, and "custom." You'll even have full control over the form of audio chat on the PS3. By going into the Audio Output section, you can select from Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, and AAC, as well as Linear PCM with 2ch, 5.1ch, and 7.1ch available in 44.1kHz, 88.2kHz, 48kHz, and 192kHz. You may set this to automatic if you so desire, and there are three more simple cable options- HDMI, optical, and AV Multi.
To enable Blu-Ray playback, you need to head over to the HD/DVD section of the settings menu. Then you can choose the disk's menu, default audio, and subtitle languages, which should be familiar to PSP owners. And if you're concerned about slow start-up times with next-gen optical disc players, don't fret; the PS3 loads up a Blu-Ray movie very quickly. Impress tried out the U.S. version of Fifth Element, and it took less than 10 seconds to start up the disc after having selected it from the video section of the Media Cross Bar.
One additional footnote to the Blu-Ray playback, though- it appears there is a difference between how the system handles a movie and a game. When you load up a game, the PS3 starts it automatically, but for a Blu-Ray movie, you have to select the disc from the video menu before it starts. The Impress article didn't talk about a menu option that can switch auto-playback for either on or off.
Overall startup does appear to be relatively fast. The feature reports that the time from power-up to the appearance of the Sony logo is about 10 seconds. After that, it's another 2-3 seconds before the XMB appears. They describe the PS3's Blu-Ray playback as "simple," and the site reports no problems with pop-up menus and other Blu-Ray disc features.
Of course, the PS3 is about more than just Blu-Ray. It also has the capability of playing back video directly from the hard drive. Impress was able to play a 1920 x 1080 MPEG2 from hard disk, although we're not certain if users will be able to play back VC-2 and H.264 encoded files. Still, these high-powered codecs are certainly playable via Blu-Ray discs.
Next up, the PS3's music features. The system can rip CDs to MP3, AAC, and ATRAC3 formats, allowing for bit rates of up to 352 kbps. The PS3 can also go online to read into the AMG music database so as to acquire track information. For another bit of good news, the PS3 can actually play back external files. By connecting a PSP to the PS3 via USB, any music, movies, and images on the Memory Stick become accessible from the video, music, and photo menus on the PS3. We don't know if this holds true when the two systems are communicating by Wi-Fi, however.
Unfortunately, Impress wasn't able to get specific details on the shrouded-in-mystery "Remote Play" icon. One theory is that this option will allow you to play your PS3 movies and music on the PSP, but it's hardly official. There is a PSP update scheduled right alongside the PS3 launch, though, so that should help clarify things.
One other virtually unknown icon is the "Other System Install" in the system settings section, and as far as we know, nobody knows exactly what that means.
What's listed above is just a small sampling of all the PS3's features; a good many have yet to be tested or even explained. But as launch day gets closer and closer, expect to see more details from those lucky enough to go hands-on before November 17.
10/19/2006 Ben Dutka