The Metal Gear Solid 4 PS3 bundle with a free $100 gift card from Best Buy (price matching Wal-Mart's deal) was too enticing to pass up. On a late Wednesday night, I dutifully lined-up for the midnight release and became one of 48 consumers at the Best Buy in West Patterson, NJ that night to join the PS3 nation.
I recalled the original PS3 launch-day hardware problems and inferior online experience and thought that it was prudent to wait for the kinks to be ironed out. Yet, for all the issues that have been addressed through several console variations and numerous firmware patches, much to my surprise, there are still some glaring issues that need to be addressed immediately. This is my open letter to Sony to get these items fixed ASAP.
1. No IR (Infra-Red) port
I get that Sony has a lot of new technology that they would like to push out into the market via the PS3. However, using Bluetooth for the remote control features on movie playback was a strange choice since that meant that a traditional IR port was omitted. For a game console/Blu-ray player that is suppose to attract high-end consumers—many of which whom own state-of-the-art IR-based universal remote control that cost nearly as much as the PS3 itself—this is a slap in the face. Sony is being completely insensitive to think home theater enthusiasts or people who don't like clutter in their living rooms, wouldn't mind owning an additional remote control after spending an absorbent amount of time and money to manage and optimize their entertainment spaces.
In the least, Sony could have put out a first-party IR port that plugs into a USB port and resolve this issue. Instead, Sony has left third-party manufacturers to fend for themselves and to date, there hasn't been a decent solution that provides a full range of controls over movie playback functions—leaving many PS3 owners having to find defunct PS2 remote ports/adapters to create their own hack solution.
2. Ridiculously long system update
Once I had my PS3 setup and ready to go, I wanted to visit the online store to download some demos and peruse the original arcade titles. Well before I could do that, I needed to do a system update. When it first began, it stayed stuck on zero percent for several minutes. Convinced that something was wrong, I restarted the process only to realize nothing was wrong. It took several minutes before the progress bar read 1%. Rather than stare at loading screen, I decided to watch the new Rambo movie on the Xbox 360.
About midway through, I paused the movie to check on the progress of the update and it still wasn't done. At that point, I was more interested in the movie. So it wasn't until it finished that I check backed on the PS3 and low and behold, the system update was done. You would think that Sony would realize that when people get their shiny new PS3s home, they are excited. The last thing you want them to do is sit there and wait for over an hour before they can fully enjoy what the console has to offer.
3. Fonts too small on PlayStation Network
I've never seen the old PSN so I don't know how the new one compares. I hear it's much improved from what it used to be, but regardless the screen text is WAY too small in certain areas. Most people sit over 6 feet away from their couches so the last thing you want people to do is have to squint. This was never an issue with Xbox Live and I'm shocked that with a company as big as Sony, this wasn't caught during user-testing before rolling it out to the public. Or perhaps all the user testing efforts are being devoted to the upcoming PlayStation Home feature.
4. USB charging cable too short
In theory, a rechargeable game controller that doesn't require batteries sounds like a good idea, but in practice, there are some problems. The first problem right out of the box is that the controller won't work unless you charge it first. You can get around this plugging in the controller to the PS3 USB port so you can charge and play at the same time, but the geniuses at Sony only included a four foot long USB charging cable. So I'm literally sitting on the floor beside my coffee table instead of relaxing and grooving on my couch. Not cool.
The issue that concerns me is what happens when the battery on the controller starts to die. If this was for the Wii or Xbox 360, I'd put the game in pause and swap out the dying batteries for some fresh ones sitting in my charger and I'm back in action with only a minor delay. This isn't an option with the PS3, so I either have to keep another PS3 controller plugged into the PS3 or some other USB port or I buy a 10 foot long USB cable and plug in the controller when the batteries get weak. I opted for the latter and this wouldn't have been such a dilemma had Sony simply provided a 10 foot long USB cable out of the box. Is that too much to ask?
5. Lack of PS2 controller adapter
Since the original PlayStation and PS2 were the most dominant consoles of the last two generations and with the mainstream success of accessory-based games like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero, gamers own a lot of PlayStation and PS2 dual shocks, dance pads and guitars. Since all the PS3 consoles have some degree of backwards compatibility, you would think Sony would offer a port like the Wii or at least sell an adapter so all those old guitars and dance pads don't collect dust in the attic. It's completely baffling that Sony would have the foresight to sell a memory card adapter, but stop short of providing some option for the controllers. Here's a wild suggestion: wouldn't it be amazing if the memory card adapter did both!
So like the remote control issue, without Sony providing a workable solution, they've left third-parties to haphazardly fend for themselves and with the recent return of rumble force-feedback, what was once an annoying problem has become an outright conundrum in trying to figure which adapters will support guitars and rumble features properly. The problem is so trying that third-parties appear to have given up and pulled adapters from the market to avoid further confusion. Over one year since the debut of the PS3 and Sony still hasn't responded to the plight of its consumers. Maybe it's just me, but perhaps I'm seeing a pattern here.
Somewhere between all the gaming, Chi some how managed to finish high school and get into the New York Institute of Technology. At the same time, Chi also interned at Virtual Frontiers, an Internet software consultancy where he learned the ways of HTML. Soon after acquiring his BFA, Chi went on to become the lead Web designer of the Anti-Defamation League. During his tenure there, Chi was instrumental in redesigning and relaunching the non-profit organization's Web site.
Today, Chi is the webmaster of the American Red Cross in Greater New York and somehow managed to work through the tragic events of September 11th without losing his sanity. Chi considers GameCritics.com his life's work and continues to be amazed that the web site is still standing after the recent dotcom fallout. It is his dream that GameCritics.com will accomplish two things: 1) Redefine the grammar of videogames much the same way French film critic Andre Bazin did for the art of cinema and 2) bring game criticism to the forefront of mainstream culture much the same way Siskel & Ebert did for film criticism.
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