Next Generation Gaming Consoles, Sony vs Microsoft

I am going to try to outline in some way here the next gen consoles and why I would choose one over the other. If for no other reason than I can get more than 140 characters here and it is easier to point to a response once when I need to… this might get long..

What I am not going to do? Run down the specs on each side down to the details. Other tech sites have done or are doing that already.

Let’s start with some history…

I have played games on computers/consoles for I dunno, almost 30 years. NES, Apple II, SNES, N64, Sega Genesis, Early DOS, PC, Gamecube, PS One, 2, 3, Xbox, Xbox 360. Wii. Some others in there. Basically have owned or played on all major systems (yeah, Dreamcast, Atari, etc).

Currently I have a PS3 and an Xbox 360. I would say I have completed/played/done more on the Xbox 360 than PS3. I own many more games, accessories, etc.

I think the main reason I have a PS3 is that I had some Gamestop credit and it was the best blu ray player around at the time. I do have some PS3 games that I have played/beat. I used to have like 40 games for PS2. I think we played PS2 through college more than anything (well, N64 was up there in the first two years)..

Looking at the current gen Sony vs Microsoft… gripes on both consoles.. every time I turn them on, most of my time is spent “updating” the main system or apps that are downloaded, or before I can play a game, etc.

Xbox 360 UI “interface” has changed 3+ times since I first had one (this is my second console, my first one from 2006 – I wore out). The PS3 hasn’t changed much to me.

Seems that PS3 has removed features that made it unique (running Linux? – I wrote about this 5 years ago).

Both consoles again, things like Hulu Plus, Netflix – are there – but to me, backup. Apple TV or Roku seem better suited for that. Recently I have been using Chromecast more and more – which works well too.

Friends: I have more friends with Xbox 360 than PS3, or at least on the “networks”. This makes things more enjoyable.

Games: For the most part they have the same games. The titles that are specific are ok but nothing that makes me say I would go with one over the other.

Like I mentioned, PS3 has the blu ray. I think if MSFT would have added blu ray to the 360, I wouldn’t have a PS3.

Now, onto the new consoles. PS4 and Xbox One.

8-10 years ago, I played games. I would get a PS2 game and play it/beat it. I would get a Xbo 360 game and get all the achievements. Time was in abundance. Fast forward to present. Working tons of hours. 2 kids. Family. House. Other engagements. There is no time to play a 150-200 hour game, at least for me. I find myself playing more of the arcade type games quick and out. Fruit Ninja Kinect. Trials HD, etc. Skyrim? I tried, I really did. Time gets in the way. Then coming back to it later is like “a child wandering into a movie

Back in the mid-2000’s, Apple TV wasn’t really around. Roku/Chromecast, etc – nothing. Xbox 360 or PS3 were the only way (easy way – besides hooking up a computer) to get things on your big screen. Back then they were the only thing hooked up to my composite or HDMI, now, they are fighting for slots.

I think looking at the two options for the next generation leave me at this.. If I do get a console, it will be the Xbox One.

Why?

First off, price comes up. To me they are the same. Xbox 360 comes with new Kinect, Sony doesn’t come with camera, that costs $100 extra, so price is pretty much the same.

Second, if history repeats itself, more of my friends will be on Xbox Live. One thing is that people that are already on Xbox Live would be on Live once they got a Xbox One.

Sidebar: Backwards compatibility. Sad story for both consoles. If either of them had backward compatibility it would totally change the game when it comes to people picking up the new consoles. This one issue and how they handle it is putting me off from getting either of them for a while. My current games and system works, why get a new one? Until there is a game or reason outside of a game to get new console, I probably won’t.

To me, the Xbox One is more of a “media center” system that plays games, whereas the PS4 is a gaming system that lets you do some media functions.

Now, being where I am at in life, mid-30’s, little or no time for gaming, etc etc – the Xbox One appeals. Give me direct integration into my TV. Let me play with Kinect. Let me Skype with family. Oh, and you want to play a game? Sure. And you can watch blu-ray or rent/download movies, it will integrate better with your Microsoft desktop and Windows Phone, etc etc.

What does Sony have? (to me): it is a third party device trying to integrate into ecosystems that are pretty much getting cemented already (Apple, Microsoft, upcomer Google). Nintendo and Sony are on the outside looking in. It doesn’t matter to me that it might play games better, or the nitty gritty details on whatever else someone who is choosing a PS4 will use as their “argument” that it is better. In all honesty, my thought is if you consider yourself a hardcore gamer, you should be getting both consoles anyways.

What don’t I like about the Xbox One from what I see? Size. The thing is huge. While everything else is getting smaller in tech, the Xbox One gets bigger.

Now, based on my current (well I guess now “previous”) generation PS3 and Xbox 360 experiences, I don’t really need another device sitting around that the majority of the time spent on it is just running updates. I would hope either of these new consoles handle this better. Also it makes my choice favor a system I would use more than for just gaming. Based on the current (or soon to be realized) functionality, my head leans to Xbox One.

I am sure I am missing this or that in comparisons and there are going to be fanboys on either side saything this or that, but I just haven’t gotten any “feeling” that is telling me I should get or consider a PS4. Microsoft has been good with the Xbox, 360 and Xbox Live, the are just going to get better. I like where they are heading. Sony just seems like an outside system to me. So no matter what your choice, have fun. I am not trying to convince anyone either way. When it all boils down, I will probably just end up playing more games on my phone anyways 🙂

So in the end: Xbox One. But guessing if I do get it, it will be after the price drops for both consoles, as they always do.

How 20$ Saved Me 100$ + A Month – HDTV Antenna

I really hate TV. I don’t even watch it. It is something that you should be able to pay for what you use, not pay for everything and use a little bit of it, so here is what I did.

I went to Best Buy and picked up and HDTV Antenna.

It rocks. I just plug it in to the coax, do a search and it finds the local channels. ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, WB, PBS, and Weather Plus. Picks up the regular versions and HD versions. Since that is all that Emily wants, to see weather alerts and crap, it’s good enough for me.

I have PlayOn setup on my Vista box so I can get Hulu, YouTube and Netflix streaming to my PS3. I can rent movies, buy movies and TV shows on the PS3, Xbox 360, and AppleTV, and I can get podcasts and YoutTube on the AppleTV. What else do I need? And if I really want something, I can get it using rapidshare or whatever, or stream it on my laptop.

So, yeah, “Hello, Charter? Cancel my cable, I don’t need you anymore, kthxbye”

It’s liberating, and adds more $$ to my bottom line every month.

The Apple Fandom.. Continues

Woah, well it has been a while since I talked about my “Media Center” experience I am trying go for, but I will get into that later.

First, yes, I have the iPhone 3G. I was off Friday for other stuff and decided to “camp out” since I had the time, hoping I would get out early. I went to AT&T on the East Side at 4:30 AM with a chair and my laptop and waited until 8:00. I was 6th in line. It was a good time, Einstein Bagels opened at 5:30 so we had coffee and bagels, and just had fun talking with fellow iPhone geeks. I already had the 2.0 Firmware beta loaded because I am in the dev program, and I was running iTunes 7.7 Confidential Beta as well.

Anyways, getting the iPhone, they let the first 9 in, and out of the 9, 2 people got activated and went home. Mine wasn’t working so they just let me go, and since they upgraded my SIM, I left with 2 bricked iPhones. Ugh. Once home I connected it and let it sit and it finally went through. Cool! I like the GPS and the 3G, Exchange Sync, MobileMe sync, the apps, it is all good. Battery life could be better, and there are always ways to improve, but my biggest gripe with the iPhone (no SDK, etc) is now gone. I find myself using my computer less and less, since I can do most “personal computing” stuff on the iPhone (read feeds, facebook, etc)

In between getting my Mac Book Pro, and the new iPhone, I picked up two other things on my Apple wishlist. First, the Time Capsule. 1 TB and AirPort Express N – this thing is sweet. The best part is my MBP is backed up every hour on the hour to the Time Capsule. I feel way more “secure”

The other item is AppleTV. I used to be a HUGE fan of Netflix and would watch 10-12 movies a month. But once you get through all the ones you want to watch, it gets stale. Also, not being able to get all of them in Blu-Ray, it is kind of a downer. I still have Netflix, but I reduced my plan down to like 1 at a time, I might re-look at Netflix now that Xbox has native streaming, and also the plugins for using MCE as an extender, but for now I am good there. The PS3 announcing downloadable movies TONIGHT!!! and with the Xbox 360 streaming, and Netflix discs and streaming, PLUS the AppleTV, I am pretty much set.

What does AppleTV bring? Well first, the HD movies , downloaded direct, and other movies, which is nice. TV shows, Music, Photos and YouTube. I have found myself watching YouTube on the couch now for like an hour straight, crazy. I really like being able to get Flickr pix or MobileMe pix as a slideshow, and also syncing with my MBP iTunes, and even better, the iPhone 2.0 firmware has the iTunes Remote which rocks, and controls iTunes on your laptop or Apple TV.

My guess is I will be cutting back my Charter lineup (I wish I could just get the HD channels, that is all I watch anyways!)

So, finally , some iPhone apps that rock.

Midomi – I use this to tag songs and buy on iTunes

GuitarToolkit – must have for any guitarist

iTunes Remote – I already talked about this, it rocks

Tuner, VisuaRadio, AOL Radio, Pandora, Last.FM – all your music needs, taken care of (check out Tuner… they have a Beatles Radio station – lovely!!!)

Loopt, Whrrl, iFob – pretty cool LBS based social networking

Others? Pownce (ok), Twitterifc (I am not impressed)

Facebook, Myspace – meh iphone.facebook.com is better than the Facebook app!

MonkeyBall – hard, but fun

I am sure there will be more, but right now I am surrounded by Apple, never would have thought (although I am writing this post on Vista on my Dell Laptop, which I fixed the Hard Drive on :))

HowTo: Hack Your PS3: Installing Yellow Dog Linux 6.0, and Actually Getting It To Work!

So, a couple of weeks ago, I bought a PS3, for the Blu-Ray disc capabilities. Since HD-DVD has died and I can get Blu-Ray discs through Netflix, and since the PS3 can be updated with new features, I figured I would give it a try. (The 100 dollar EB games credit I had made the decision easier as well)

After playing around with the PS3 (I bought one game disc ; Uncharted, Drakes Adventures, and one Online game; Pain) I figured it would be good to hack around and install Linux on it. With the PS3, Sony makes it really easy to install Linux.

linux_on_ps3

I decided to go with Yellow Dog Linux (YDL), version 6.0 (the latest). Other distros will work, but this is the main one they support – you can download it here – http://www.terrasoftsolutions.com/support/downloads/

After getting the 3.7 GB file, which took forever, I burnt the ISO to DVD using Active@ ISO-Burner (a sweet ISO burner BTW). Ok, all set to install. A few things to consider

1) You need a USB keyboard and mouse

2) You need a HDTV for this to work

In the PS3, go to settings, system settings, and then format utility. You can format a 10 GB partition for “Other OS”.  Restart the PS3

Then put in the Linux DVD, go back to settings, system settings, Install Other OS. YDL said /ps3/otheros/otheros.bld  … so, hit start. Then it will tell you how to get to the other OS.

Go then to “Default System” menu and choose Other OS, and then restart..

It should restart into Linux. It will be at a prompt, “kboot:” – hit enter, it should get into setup, you can follow the onscreen instructions from there. Everything is pretty much default and hitting yes to any prompts, a basic install. You set up a root password, etc. Reboot after it is done, it will go through some final setup steps (checking sound, etc), after that, you should be able to login.

Logging in, first thing I wanted to do was get networking set up. I am not using the wired connection, rather I am using wireless, with WPA. Here is where the fun starts, and why I hate Linux.

YDL doesn’t support WPA out of the box, isn’t that awesome? The wifi was there in network config, etc, and I could put in settings, but it would never connect. I do love the error it gives you as well… “Check Cable?” umm… well, I would but Linux, remember we are configuring a Wi-Fi Connection? No Cable?

Anyway’s.. debacle time.. found this after some searching – http://dachaac.blogspot.com/2007/08/guide-to-get-wpa-psk-working-on-ps3-ydl.html

This works… I just connected to a “linksys” for 2 seconds to download the RPM (or you can just put it on a flash drive as well), and then disconnected. Going through that tutorial though,there was one thing I was getting hung up on. The networking commands were not working for me. I was logged in a regular user, so I tried “su” to switch to root. Still no dice. I had to logout, and login as root, and run through that tutorial (unpacking the RPM with –force works with “su”).

Awesome, my networking is working and I am using WPA… yesssss! Now, just check a few things, email, reader, Facebook, cool. How about YouTube… wait… no flash. Check Adobe’s site.. no flash for PPC architecture.. WTF? So no flash at this point…which stinks..

Whew, all the Linux hacking is making me thirsty.. ok, lets boot back to the PS3 OS…wait.. how?

After doing some more digging, there should be a command “boot-game-os” you can run from the terminal and it should reboot. Wait, trying to run that command, it says “command not found”… another WTF…

After some more digging, it turns out the command resides in the “/sbin” directory, which users don’t have access to… (even root? man…)

So we need to make a sym-link. You can do this as a regular user, but you need to “su”, then run

cd /bin

ln -s /sbin/boot-game-os boot-game-os

Then, you can just go to the “start” menu in TDL, and there is an option then to “Boot Game OS” – works like a charm, reboot and you are back to the PS3