PS3 1.80 Firmware – Should have been called 2.0

Posted on July 9th, 2007 in Hardware & Software,Video Games by andrija

I have never seen as much functionality added with a “minor” update.  Not to a mainstream consumer product at any rate.  Or perhaps my memory is short, and this used to be the norm – I would not be surprised.

The three most useful new features:

  • DVD upscaling
  • PS1/PS2 game upscaling
  • Media Streaming (DLNA support)

DVD upscaling is simply amazing.  This is the best implementation that I’ve ever seen.  People still claim Toshiba is doing it slightly better – but I don’t have that.  What I do have is HQV benchmark and that one when run on PS3 gives me the best score I’ve ever seen.  Only one frame sequence failed to deinterlace properly!  And apart from not doing all the noise filtering that it could do, I have no complaints whatsoever.  It only does 1% overscan on top and 0% on all other sides!  The picture looks great.  I turned off my DVD player and am using my PS3 for DVD playback all the time.

Game upscaling is also great, though I have not been able to establish quantitatively how good it is, other than it is considerably better.

Media streaming… it took a while to even get it to work.  Photos and music were not too tough but video took me more than a week.  It took much longer to get it to play back my lossless audio, but it can do even that now.  The only remaining problem is video – the quality isn’t all that good but more importantly, other than 1.5x fast forward, you can’t do anything else without it restarting.  So it’s not really useful for video at all.  Hopefully this will be improved in the near future.

Xbox360: Yes, the Red Ring of Death has visited me, too

Posted on July 9th, 2007 in Hardware & Software,Video Games by andrija

Well, I never doubted reports of Xbox360 consoles dying in large numbers, but I never knew how likely it was to happen. Seven and a half months later, it happened to me too. All it took is playing back a HD-DVD for 10 minutes while it was 30C in my apartment. The box froze. After reboot it froze on the splash screen. I insisted and eventually was able to continue playback… only to have it freeze again. I switched to playing a game – Enchanted Arms, not a very demanding game – and except for the initial freeze during load, I was able to finish an entire chapter, playing for over 3 hours. Then suddenly, during a boss fight, it froze. After reboot I was greeted with – you guessed it – the famous Red Ring of Death. I plugged and unplugged the hard drive with various success, occasionally managing to get into the dashboard and rarely getting the red ring, but eventually it stuck and didn’t let go. Microsoft was nice and courteous but this was Wednesday. It is Monday today and my shipping box (so-called “coffin”) is still not here.

Of course, the big – very big, billion-dollar news – happened on Thursday. Micro$oft will be pruning that $ tree of theirs and grant all of us owners a godly extension of warranty – to 3 full years, worldwide. They also apologized for the mistake in their hardware.

So I know I will eventually end up with a permanently fixed Xbox360. I just doubt it will be my next one.