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E3 Analysis: Two PS3 SKU’s |

PS3 BackLong time readers of will know that I set up this site because I’m a fan of the PS2 and I’m looking forward to the PS3. I like Sony stuff, but I’m not exclusively commited to it (my HDTV is a Hitachi). I like the Xbox 360 but I don’t like Microsoft. Nintendo games and hardware have a place, but that place isn’t my home. Etc. You get the picture. You’ll also note that I tend to give Sony the benefit of the doubt. I just don’t like how everyone seems to have a hate-on for Sony, and I’m trying to counter that. Sometimes it seems that Sony can do nothing right, so I often stand up for Sony, trying to point out that they’re doing good work.

But when it comes to the two SKU issue, I can’t.

In case you didn’t know, Sony will have two versions of the PS3. One version will have a 20GB HDD, no WiFi, no memory card readers, no HDMI connection. The other version will have a 60GB HDD, Wifi, SD / CompactFlash / MemoryStick reader, and an HDMI port.

And I don’t like it.

Sure, you can say that WiFi is easily added as a peripheral – that’s what the 360 does. And that you can save games to the HDD. Or that most movie studios have announced that they won’t be using the Image Constraint Token (ICT), so HDMI isn’t really needed. But what about the fact that with no memory card reader, a gamer can’t transfer game saves anywhere? Why should a gamer have to buy a peripheral for that? And studios might not always release movies without the ICT – in which case using the component video outputs for HD BD movie watching isn’t a good option any more. And what about the fact that Sony denounced Microsoft’s plan to offer two SKU’s when it was announced? It’s not good form to poo-poo something, then turn around and do the same thing.

I didn’t like the idea of two Xbox 360 systems. I thought it was a bad idea at the time, and I still do. And Sony’s now doing the same thing. (That said, I think that Microsoft’s mistake of not including a HDD in all consoles is worse than Sony’s mistake of not including WiFi/HDMI/memory readers. But that’s beside the point.) Part of the whole idea behind a console that is you have one system with one configuration. Developers can count on the fact that all consoles are the same. Where’s the incentive for a developer to develop cool PSP-PS3 integration via WiFi if they know that some PS3/PSP owners can’t use the feature? Sure the HDMI port won’t give developers the same dilema, and I don’t think the lack of a memory card reader really does either. But the WiFi thing really sticks out as a big missing feature. I just hope that Sony will offer an external WiFi connector like Microsoft does for the 360. It won’t make up for the mistake, but at least it’ll give gamers an option.

  • Gary

    My thoughts exactly. I was & still am seriously miffed at Sony offering 2 different PS3 SKUs.

    I have a few things to get off my chest.

    1) Liars & hypocrites. However you look at it Sony lied & I don’t like being lied to. Phil Harrison claimed they wouldn’t go down the 2 SKU route & criticised Microsoft for doing so & that really sticks in my throat. I’ve defended Sony on many occasions against criticism but I can’t on this. They’ve opened themselves up for criticism from all quarters & it’s deserved.

    2) Stock levels. Sony say they will ship 4m PS3s by Dec 31st. Sounds good but how many of those will be the PS3 that most people want, the 60GB pack?

    Another theory is that Sony can’t mass produce 4m 60GB PS3s by the end of the year so they removed some parts, resulting in the crippled 20GB PS3, which means they will be able to produce the 4m they say they can because the crippled version should be easier & faster to build as it has less parts….

    3) 2 SKUs. The 20GB pack is worthless to me & to most people. For a start the HDD is too small. I don’t know if you can upgrade the HDD or not plus the absence of WiFi is a huge loss as although I’m not big on online gaming it’s something I was looking to experience with the PS3 & there’s a chance I will get a PSP in the future. So I need WiFi & I want it out of the box.

    Like you said if game developers know that every PS3 has a size-able HDD & WiFi then they can design games that with these features in mind not forgetting that Harrison showed off the PSP’s compatibility to be used as an extra viewpoint in F1 ’07.

    4) The price. £410 (rough European guess) was what I was expecting all along & for the 60GB PS3 it’s reasonable & a price I would be willing to pay. Now the 20GB pack is roughly £350 just £60 cheaper than the 60GB PS3 & for a £60 difference who in their right mind would want to buy the crippled 20GB PS3!?

    I dunno if Sony thinks £410 will look too expensive compared to the 360 so maybe they are using the £350 pack to make the more expensive £410 pack more appealing…

    With no WiFi, no HDMI out & no memory stick/Flash etc reader the 20GB pack should’ve been priced a lot lower say £299 or less.

    I feel very strongly about this & if it wasn’t for games like MGS 4, FFXIII, DMC4 etc I would seriously consider getting a 360 despite my dislike for Microsoft.

  • thomas

    I completelly agree with you guys.
    Though i’m still giving Sony the benefit of the doubt. We probably know nothing.

  • francois

    I agree we don’t know enough…
    There is USB port the on Ps3? Any USB SD/flash reader could allow to share saved games, I bet you will be able to transfert saved games to the PSP using USB cable.
    Will it be possible to upgrade the PS3 with a HDMI module attached to Ps3?
    Will there be Wifi peripheral?

    I hope the anwser is yes to all those question…. I have doubt about the HDMI module.

    Also having a less expensive version will give a chance to some people to afford the system.

    Games will be the same, we got the same CPU power and a harddisk.

  • Matt

    Without HDMI developers lose the incentive to develop games in 1080p. Why wast all the time necessary to create an image twice as detailed. Especially if half of the PS3 users don’t have HDMI.

  • Francois

    HDMI or not, I think developper will not be tempted to do 1080p because all HDTV bought in the last years have a maxiimum of 720p/1080i. The games will probably benefits more using the extra power left in 720p to improve other element of the games such as physic.

    I think we will start to more 1080p games later in the life cycle of the console when the programming techniques for the ps3 have matured and 1080p hdtv become more widespread.

  • It’s not true that all HDTV’s bought in the last year have a maximum of 720p/1080i. There are several that display 1080p and even a few than can accept a 1080p signal over HDMI.