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- March, 2010

James Rolfe: Within the past year I started watching movies on a PS3 and only within the past month or two I started trying out Blu-Rays. So I figured I'd just relay my own experience I have with this and share my trials and errors.

Now the first PS3 I had went dead within 5 minutes... No joke. I used the fucking thing for 5 minutes and it shut down. I got a blinking light and I could never get it to power on again. This is my second one. I've had it for a while now and it has been okay. I use a fan on the front of it here trying to prevent it from overheating. But if it overheats in 5 minutes that's some faulty design. 

Before I talk about Blu-ray I gotta say I love the DVD-player on the PS3. The image looks great and I like the wireless technology on the controller that I don't have to point the thing at the TV. No matter where it is I can just reach over and push the button. The only downfall of this is if you accidentally bump it or throw it aside you'll end up stopping the DVD or skipping a scene. But usually I don't encounter this problem. The battery sucks! It seems like I can only get through two or three movies before it goes dead and then I have to charge it. I like when you hit 'Select' it shows all your stats, like how long the movie is and all that stuff. It's unobtrusive and it looks good. 

As for the picture since I've owned an HD-TV it's the first time I've been able to actually watch movies in the prober screen size. Like if it's a regular 4:3 movie it doesn't stretch it to fill the screen. If the movie is in widescreen then it actually fills the TV. On my old DVD-player a widescreen movie would get letterboxed and it stretches the whole thing out. I think the problem is that the old DVD-player did not have an HDMI output – it only had the regular RCA-cables. So what I've come to learn is that going from this (referring to RCA) to that (HDMI) makes a huge difference. No wonder the image is so much clearer. 

Well, on the downside I'm now starting to learn how many of the DVD's in my collection are not formatted for widescreen TV's. In this case the letterbox area is part of the image, so the TV doesn't know it's supposed to fill the whole thing and it really sucks. Whenever this happens I have to use the TV's digital zoom to get it to fill the screen. Now I understand why everyone was complaining about the original "Star Wars"-trilogy never being released in this format. In other words the special editions will fill the screen, the original unaltered versions will not. 

So once I felt confident using the PS3 as my DVD-player I decided to get myself some Blu-Rays and try them out. 

Well, listen to this; there was no sound on the movies. There was sound on the opening logos, the trailers in the beginning, the bonus features, everything-- but when you play the main movie – no sound. It seemed to be a problem related to Blu-Ray as it never happened on any of my regular DVD's. I went into all the menus and messed about with the audio settings – nothing solved the problem. That was until I tried the other menu you get by pushing the triangle button. It brings up a bunch of vague symbols. I tried them all out to see what they do. One of them turned out to be another menu for audio settings. This menu had some options that were not in the main menu that you see when you first turn on your PS3. I changed some PCM or bitstream or some shit and finally the sound came on. 

There's another problem I'm having with the controller, but it's more like a minor inconvenience. When you're playing a Blu-Ray the controls are different than if you're playing a regular DVD. Play and pause is no longer 'X', now it's 'Start'. Fast-forwarding and rewinding; on a regular DVD it's left and right on the control pad, but on a Blu-Ray you have to use 'L' and 'R'. It was much easier before because I could use one hand or even just reach over. But now I have to pick the thing up and use both hands. I'm aware that there's a special controller specifically made for the Blu-Ray but I was fine using the regular game controller until they changed the controls. Another thing I noticed was that while the trailers are playing you can't jump to the menu like you usually can on a DVD. But you can use the chapter-skip, so this means you have to skip through each trailer one at a time until you finally get to the menu. At least this is what happens on the Blu-Rays that I own. 

The image quality is crystal clear but unless you're sitting close to the TV it doesn't make that big a difference. Not worth the headache and the higher prices. The biggest difference I saw was going from RCA to HDMI. The PS3 made my standard DVD's look way better. As for Blu-Ray it looks nice but I'm in no hurry to replace my DVD collection. You know how long it's been taking to get all my VHS movies on DVD? Still, half my collection is VHS. Remember HD-DVD's? Guess we can forget that ever existed, right? 

In the next few days I'm gonna talk about some more obsolete video formats that some people may not remember. So check in real soon. 

Oh wait! And one last thing about the PS3; this thing plays games too, right? I almost forgot. Well, I have yet to play a PS3 game. As funny as that is, it's true. 

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