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Potshot goes console

03 Apr

Ok, not exactly. Its probably been 25 years since I’ve been seriously interested in a console.

pitfall.jpg

To tell the truth, I’m still not particularly interested in console gaming systems.

Confused? So was I and then in a fleeting moment of clarity, it all came together: I needed to buy a Sony Playstation 3.

Two things led me to this conclusion: 1) Blu-ray Disc won the format wars and 2) I wanted to set up a media server so I could access music, video and photos from our home theater complex(tm). For us, that means the place where we watch TV and have a modest surround sound system hooked up. I’ve been jealous of a buddy of mine who archived all of his cd’s in FLAC and streams them all over his house using a SlimServer/Squeezebox on his home network. I wanted to do something similar. I also wanted to step up to Blu-ray since we love HD but are growing increasingly dissatisfied with anything on cable.

Two hardware purchases were not in the budget. So, after poking around a bit, the PS3 seemed like a pretty decent solution. They recently released a bluetooth “normal” remote so you can watch DVDs without having to do everything by game controller and a series of relatively recent firmware upgrades allows the PS3 to recognize DLNA compliant media servers. With a bit of wrangling, most internet radio is supported as well. In researching a bunch of this stuff, I’m now nearly cool having learned an entirely separate set of technology subculture jargon.

So in classic Potshot fashion, I went shopping for a DVD player and came home with a game system.

Sony seems to have a way of making neat things and then totally screwing up the support and marketing. PS3 today seems to be more of a media center/extender than a game system. Too bad they’re only just figuring this out. Something Microsoft seemed to figure out with Xbox earlier. Too bad they bet on HD-DVD. Oops.

I must say, hooking it up and getting it on our wireless network was pretty painless. Likewise, upgrading the firmware over the internet was one click simple. Downloading and setting up a media server on one of our other machines to share music, etc. was very easy. There are a number of decent free or low cost options out there (like TVersity). Enough that I probably downloaded and installed four or five and will continue to play with them to see which we prefer. Unfortunately, Squeezecenter (the new name for Slim Server) is not one of them. Its free and pretty slick, but its not DLNA compliant so the PS3 wont recognize it.

Overall, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. One box, two solutions. So focused on the Blu-ray and media center aspects of the system, I didn’t even bother to buy any games for it before it arrived. So it occurred to me, maybe I should pick up a game or two to play. But which one?

Of course, all the usual blam blam blam games came to mind, but I thought I might want something that was, well, more Mrs. P friendly and that we could both play. Now anyone whos gone PvP with Mrs. P knows she’s not afraid of fragging yer ass or getting fragged, but lets say the CODs and Ultra-Mega Death Champion fighting games of the world are not her strong suit. She does have a weakness for cute though.

Only one solution for the inaugural console game then: Lego Star Wars: the Complete Saga. I’ve gotten lots of feedback from friends that they’ve really enjoyed the game despite playing it with their kids. To paraphrase much of what is written about it: peeps love Star Wars, peeps love Lego, what’s not to love?

We’ve only just taken the plunge, but so far its proving amusing and entertaining. I’m sure there’s more where this came from.

Not bad for a blu-ray media center.

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7 Comments

Posted by on April 3, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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7 responses to “Potshot goes console

  1. Wilhelm2451

    April 3, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Wow, cool stuff!

    Before I start thinking about BluRay and the like, I have to first upgrade the rest of the stuff around my TV, including our 15 year old, “S-video is as good as it gets” TV itself.

     
  2. p@tsh@t

    April 3, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Pretty fun to serve up those vacation slideshows and videos or nostalgic recordings (or the thrilling sounds of your favorite podcast) in the family room at the click of a remote.

    Web browser too, but keyboard input without a keyboard is a bit wonky for those of us that haven’t had to type with a game controller since we last put our names up on the high score list for Ms. Pacman. Not that one isn’t available for it…

    Ultimately I blame Earlthecat and Bungho. Earl is the home theater nut and Bungho’s the audiophile, so this makes for a nice convergence.

     
  3. dmosbon

    April 3, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Hey Potshot are we on the same wavelength or what?! Am waiting on my very own PS3 & Wii systems to arrive…spooky stuff! Enjoy your new lease of gaming life!

     
  4. p@tsh@t

    April 3, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Indeed! Just read your April 3 Wii post re online connectivity. Haven’t even gone there yet, but I’m sure I will eventually with the PS3. Still with an uncertain year for MMOs out there, I think it will be fun to have a second platform to explore.

    Interested in hearing about your new gear when it arrives.

     
  5. Marchosias

    April 6, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Very interesting… With my upcoming move I’ve decided to lose a bunch of my old hardware (old TV, old DVD player, old surround reciever, etc) and upgrade once the move is complete – The thought of using a PS3 as my BlueRay player and media reciever hadn’t even crossed my mind, but it sounds like a good way to go. I already have my in-house webserver streaming all of my music in three formats (mpu, rss, and wpl) so I can stream to my PC’s, Macs, and my PSP. Eventually I’ll get all my movies/DVD’s converted and streaming as well. I’ve already got an analog-to-digital converter to capture my old VHS collection. I’m assuming if streaming is working to my PSP it will work for the PS3? Never heard of DLNA but I’ll start looking into it now.

    Now you’ve done it! You’ve got me thinking, and that’s very dangerous! LOL

     
  6. p@tsh@t

    April 7, 2008 at 9:51 am

    I think you’re probably right if streaming to PSP is working.

    Extremely easy to get audio streaming set up. Basically get a DLNA compliant media server like Tversity, Twonky, Winamp Remote, Fuppes, Simplecenter and probably a few others. Install that on the machine that will act as a server, flag which files or folders you want to share and voila. Better performance if you can server a format that the PS3 can play and avoid having the server transcode on the fly.

    There may be some codec voodoo you need to do (depending on the media server and your preferences). Lots of lore and little definitive knowledge as to whats truly “better” etc…

    Once you’ve got the PS3 on your network, it should be able to see the media server. Browse to your media of choice and voila. Don’t expect to be able to play DRM protected media.

    Wired better than wireless, but I haven’t had any trouble on 802.11g wireless so far. Video will require more tweakage than audio and I haven’t really messed with that yet, but it seems doable.

    Internet radio is still a bit wonky. With Tversity you can set up most shoutcast stations, etc. but I suspect that we’ll get better support in the next firmware upgrade. I’d like to have it display the station and the artist/title playing (a la iTunes), but have had zero luck with that so far.

    Give it a go and let us know what happens!

     

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