Having debuted back in 2006, before the advent of the smartphone and before tablets became popular, the Sony PlayStation 3 isn’t new. After more than a decade on the market, the PlayStation 3 may not offer the glitzy graphics and cutting edge features of current-generation systems, but it’s still a great option if you’re on a budget. The long-lived video game console can be purchased new or used, boasts a giant selection of games, and has many of the same media and entertainment features as newer systems. If sheer entertainment is your goal, the Sony PlayStation 3 is an affordable and compelling choice.
The PlayStation 3 has had more than a decade to amass an enormous library of games, and more than 1,000 titles have been released for the system, including entries in popular franchises like Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and Mass Effect. Several well-known game series are exclusive to the console, including Uncharted, Metal Gear Solid, and Ratchet and Clank. Sony still manufactures and sells the PS3, and there are even new games coming out for the system, including compatible versions of The Last of Us, Destiny and Grand Theft Auto V.
These are just major titles with disc-based releases; the system has access to hundreds of other games large and small through the PlayStation Network, and that library is still expanding. Through the PlayStation Store you can purchase games from not only the original PlayStation and PlayStation 2, but also other older systems like the Sega Dreamcast.
The PS3 comes with a single wireless DualShock 3 controller. The controller connects wirelessly via Bluetooth and is charged with an included micro-USB cable. The controller has two analog sticks, four directional buttons, four action buttons (triangle, circle, cross, square) and four shoulder triggers. The DualShock 3 traditionally comes in black, but it can also be found in white, blue, red, pink and digital camo.
Over its 10 year life span, numerous accessories have been developed for the PS3, both by Sony and third-party manufacturers. Sony offers both wired and wireless headsets for the console, along with traditional media remotes, a charging stand for the DualShock 3 controller, and a keyboard and touchpad attachment for the controller.
Other notable accessories include the PlayStation Move, Sony’s answer to the motion control options found on other consoles. It uses a wireless controller wand in conjunction with another accessory, the PlayStation Eye webcam. The webcam can either be purchased alone or in a bundle with the PlayStation Move.
While Sony dabbled in online features in previous gaming consoles, the PlayStation 3 was the first to offer built-in hardware for online connectivity and to use the connectivity to download software updates. It also has the PlayStation Store, which lets you purchase full games and other media, such as movies and shows, along with delivering apps, free demos of titles and even completely free games.
An additional subscription service provides a number of perks to players, giving you free games and demos, early access to new titles, and discounts on regular items in the PlayStation Store. It also includes a rolling selection of free games and online storage for game files, freeing up local storage space. Unlike the newer Playstation 4, which requires the paid subscription service for online multiplayer, there is no paid requirement for online gaming on the PS3.
With playback support for both Blu-ray and DVDs, the PS3 can effectively function as an home entertainment unit, with HDMI and Composite video outputs for HDTVs and support for uncompressed 7.1 Surround Sound through either HDMI or TOSLINK digital audio.
On top of this, it also supports a variety of media streaming services, with apps for YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO GO, Hulu, Vudu and Plex. Sports lovers can get apps for content and live viewing for MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, Red Bull and WWE.
For those willing to pay for an extra monthly subscription, Sony also has a cable-esque media package called PS Vue, which gives you dozens of channels, like AMC, Comedy Central, USA and Food Network, along with sports channels like ESPN, Fox Sports and several varieties of each. For cordcutters who have struggled to enjoy live TV and sports without a cable subscription, this might be good replacement.
The PlayStation 3 has gone through several iterations in its decade-long lifespan, but the current version is relatively trim, measuring 11.4 x 2.4 x 9.1 inches (WHD) and weighing just 4.6 pounds. The console has a plastic chassis with a curved top surface and a combination of glossy and matte finishes. A top-loading optical drive lets you insert and remove games without the worry of a motorized slot that could wear out and leave a system useless. The optical drive offers read-only support for both Blu-ray and DVD discs, allowing you to use not only PS3 game discs, but also Blu-ray and DVD movies.
Internally, the PS3 uses a proprietary processor and graphics solution, with a PowerPC Cell microprocessor (with just 256MB of RAM) and an NVIDIA RSX graphics processing unit. Being 10 years old, these components aren’t necessarily impressive and don’t hold a candle to current generation consoles in terms of graphics capability, but the entire PlayStation 3 game library is designed to make the most of it, so you’ll rarely feel its limitations. You are likely to notice that most games run at 720p resolution, with some settings tweaks allow upconversion to 1080p. When compared to current generation systems there’s a noticeable difference in textures and shading.
On the front of the system are two USB 2.0 ports, which can be used to charge the wireless controllers or to connect storage and other peripherals. On the back of the console are connections for power, LAN, HDMI, digital audio, and a proprietary AV output for converting to composite and RCA connections. The PS3 also has a built-in Wi-Fi adapter. In the box, the PS3 console comes with an AC power cord, a wireless DualShock 3 controller, a USB charging cable for the controller and an AV Composite multi-cable – you need to provide your own HDMI cable if your TV doesn’t support Composite connections.
Current models of the PS3 are available with either a 250GB or 500GB hard drive for storage of games and save files. Over time, that storage will fill up, requiring you to uninstall some games to free up space before you can install others, so we recommend opting for more storage whenever possible.
While many folks opt for newer systems, there’s still a lot to recommend the Sony PlayStation 3. The console itself is far more affordable than current-generation consoles, and with years to mature, the PS3 boasts a giant catalogue of games, most of which can be purchased for reduced prices. Most of the media and entertainment options available to newer systems are also available for the PlayStation 3, making it a well-rounded alternative to the latest and greatest systems on the market.