Five Things You Should Know About Your PS3

So you just got your shiny new PlayStation 3. Of course you know it can play Metal Gear Solid 4 and Blu-rays, but there’s much more this beast can do than meets the eye. Well, as it turns out, the creative minds over at Sony have built in some great features that you may not be aware of. Some are gaming-related, some are there for ease of use and some are just downright brilliant. Here is a list of features that new PS3 owners may have overlooked.

1) Playing PS1 games

While the original 20, 60 and 80 gig PS3’s could also play your old PS2 games, the feature has unfortunately been removed from newer models. What many gamers don’t realize, however, is that all PS3’s play PS1 games. Regardless of the model or hard drive size, every PS3 system is backwards compatible with PS1 games. So get out there and find some old classics for gaming on the cheap!

-Ever since PS2 backwards compatibility was removed, rumors have reverberated around the internet that a patch will eventually add the feature back in to all PS3 models. Will this rumor ever come true? It would be nice, but at this point, over four years into the PS3’s lifecycle, it seems unlikely. If you want to play old PS2 favorites, you better hold on to your PS2 console for now.

2) Sharing PSN games

Yes, you read it right. You can legally share games that you download off the Playstation Network. Most games that you download allow for five activations on five different consoles. All you have to do is let your friend sign in to your account and download the games you’ve purchased! It’s a surprisingly simple feature that seems too good to be true. Thanks Sony!

-Never share your account information with someone you don’t trust. Scammers will promise you a trade some other sort of deal and then hijack your account by changing your password once you’ve given up your information.

-Even if sharing with a friend, it’s a good idea to remove any billing information beforehand.

-If you run out of activations, you can deactivate accounts from the consoles you have shared them with in order to recollect your activations.

3) Upgrading the hard drive

Sony has made it extremely easy to upgrade the storage capacity of your system. All you need is any 2.5” SATA internal hard disk drive (a standard laptop drive). The original PS3 drive runs at 5400 rpm so it would be wise to look for comparable specs when making the change. The swap is simple: You back up your information, remove the old hard drive, insert the new one, format and restore!

-You’ll need an external hard drive formatted to fat32 in order to back up your data.

-Be careful with the screws on the hard drive caddy, they’re easy to strip.

4) Output audio and video via different cables

If you ever wanted to output video to your TV and audio to, say, your stereo, it’s a simple process. Simply connect your video with one cable, most likely HDMI if you have an HDTV, and your audio with RCA (the red/white cable). In audio settings, you can output audio through RCA while your video is simultaneously being fed through HDMI. This is a great way to bypass often-terrible stock TV speakers. If you have surround sound, you’ll most likely use the “optical out” option for your audio needs.

-You can find stereos with RCA inputs that cost significantly less than surround sound systems and will bring your audio up to par with the image on your TV.

5) Reset video/audio settings without the controller

This one has saved me a ton of frustration. Say you unhook your PS3 from your huge 1080p LED LCD TV and bring it over to your friend’s house to play some co-op games together. Unfortunately, you forgot he has a tv that doesn’t support your TV’s insane resolution. Now, when you turn on your PS3, it just shows a black screen. Instead of calling one of your PS3-owning friends and having him walk you through the XMB display settings click by click (trust me, not a fun process!) you can utilize my favorite feature of the PS3. When the PS3 is off, press and hold the power button. Do not let go until you hear a second beep from your machine after about seven seconds. Voila! Your Display and audio settings have been detected and you can now play on your friend’s crappy old tv!

6) Expand your black levels (extra, extra!)

If you’ve got a high-end HDTV, it may be capable of displaying a huge number of shades between black and white. The PS3 has an RGB setting, which can be set to either “normal” or “full.” By default it is set to normal. Go to the display settings and go down to RGB full range (HDMI) and select full. You should notice a more vibrant picture. If your TV supports it, this feature will show richer colors and darker blacks. If not, you may lose detail in dark images. You can check your TV’s manual or look online to determine whether your TV supports this mode. If, for instance, you go to change your brightness in an in-game menu and you can’t see the brightness test (commonly a logo on a black background that is supposed to be faintly visible), then you should keep the setting on normal.

These are just a few PS3 features that will help you get the most out of your system.