You've heard that old story that we only use about 10 percent of our brains? Well, turns out that's a myth. But it is probably true that, for most of us, we only use about 10 percent of our gaming console system.
In the last few years, the Big Three (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii) have been jockeying for position to take over your living room. Consoles aren't just for gaming anymore, and each system wants to be your home entertainment hub for TV, movies, music and online.
Here are 10 tips and tricks for getting the most out of your PlayStation 3. Watch this space for future installments on the Xbox 360 and the Wii.
Add a remote control
One of the big selling points of the PS3, when it first came out, was its ability to play Blu-ray movies in HD with a compatible TV.
If you want to use the PS3 as your primary Blu-ray player, consider getting the Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray Disc Remote, which makes navigating the trickier interactive Blu-ray options — picture-in-picture, pop-up menus — much, much easier. It's also better for navigating music and photo files, or browsing around Netflix.
Watch TV and movies on-demand
When PlayStation redesigned its XrossMediaBar (XMB) user interface a couple years back, they created a new dedicated domain for TV/Video Services. Since then, the number of partner services has expanded radically, and you can now get pretty much any movie or TV show via PS3 that you can get from the neighborhood rental store or kiosk.
Taken together, the PS3's video services cover just about everything. Vudu is good for new movies; Hulu for new TV episodes; Amazon Instant Video for both; and Netflix for anything else. (Actually, Netflix's library of streaming videos is a treasure trove of award-winning independent documentaries, if you roll that way.) Hulu and Netflix require monthly subscription plans, but Amazon and Vudu are essentially pay-per-view on-demand services, with individual TV episodes and movie titles in the $2 - $4 range.
Check your controller batteries
The PS3's rechargeable wireless controllers don't let you know they're low on battery charge until they're about to die. But you can always check them yourself — just press and hold the PS button on controller. The indicator appears in bottom left corner with controller number and battery icon indicating level. (It works with the Blu-ray disc remote, too).
Lock your Internet browserParents can tell you — kids are crafty. The PS3's built-in browser isn't the greatest way to surf the web, but it's entirely functional, and kids can use it to get to those forbidden websites you may already have blocked or monitored on the home PC or mobile device.
To engage the web browser lock, go to Settings > Security Settings > Internet Browser Start Control and set-up a four digit passcode.
Import Saved Games
Hypothetically, let's say you spend four months of discretionary time solving Fallout 3. Then let's say your house gets broken into and your PlayStation 3 stolen. Let's further say that three excellent DLC titles for Fallout 3 get released, but you can't play them on your replacement PS3 without spending another four months leveling up your postapocalyptic wanderer again.
I had this exact experience, non-hypothetically.
Happily, there are ways to back up saved games online now, and even download others' save files. GameFAQs has a good selection, or search for "PS3 game saves." Download the save file you want, transfer it to a USB flash drive, and stick it in your PS3. Go to Game > Save Data Utility (PS3) > USB Device. Find your save file and hit Triangle to copy to your PS3 hard drive.
Speed up your browser
If your browser is running slow, you can shed some ballast by deleting your cache and cookies.
Hit Triangle from any page, go to Tools > Delete Cookies and Tools > Delete Cache.
(You can also wipe search history and authenication information from this menu.)
Upload photos to Facebook or Picasa
The PS3's Photo Gallery program allows you to import photos directly from your camera or storage device via USB. You can do all the things you might expect — view, arrange, zoom. But if you explore the nooks and crannies, you'll find some additional semi-hidden goodies.
One interesting features lets you upload photos from your PS3 directly into Facebook photo albums.
Go to Photo > Photo Gallery (you can download the free Photo Gallery if it's not already installed). From any screen, hit Triangle for a menu, then select Upload. You'll be prompted to enter your password info, and from there you can upload to individual albums on Facebook or Picasa. This is particularly useful for moving in-game screenshots online — triumphant Fallout 3 victories, for instance.
If you're already a subscriber to MLB.tv, you know that you can get most out-of-market baseball games streamed directly to your PC, laptop or mobile device. What you may not know is that your subscription also gives to access to those games via your networked PS3. And if you have an HDTV setup, you can get those games in high-def, on the big living room screen, in front of the couch — where they're meant to be.
In my occasionally obsessive opinion, it's the best deal out there for baseball junkies who are otherwise cut off from broadcasts of their favorite teams. With the regular season in the home stretch, you can get a pro-rated deal from MLB.TV (currently $40) and tune in for the rest of this season. Go Tigers!
Download music and images
When using the PS3 web browser, you can download and save online images, music, video and other files and store them directly on your PS3 drive. Just click on the file you want and hit Triangle.
From the pop up menu on the right, choose File > Save Image (or Target or File). So long as the target file is in a format recognized by the PS3 (.mp3, .jpg, etc), it will do downloaded and stored in the correct place on your system — audio files go to Music, images go into Photos, and so on.
Reboot your video output settings
If you ever need to reset your PC3 output settings on the fly — if you're using a new TV or taking your console on vacation, say — you might find yourself facing a blank screen. (For instance, you're set for HDMI output and only have AV on the TV.)
Here's a simple trick: Turn off the PS3 (make sure the red light is on) then hold the power button for 5-10 seconds, until you hear a second beep. The system will power up with minimum video output and you can switch up your video setup at Settings > Display Settings > Video Output Settings.