Operating System

PS3's Operating System interface

The PS3's operating system is based on the PSP's OS, which means many left/right selections with drop-down menus under each. Sony's monochrome startup screen is intuitive if not Spartan by design. Working through the most basic operations is quite easy.

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After a rather simple initial setup you're on your way. Connect to a router, and the Playstation 3 easily grabs an IP. Now that you're connected, you'll get the first update to 1.10 of Sony's PS3 operating system.

Sony has made a slick, tidy operating system Zen-like in its simplicity. With that said, Microsoft makes operating systems. The latter has far more experience with user-based operations and it shows via the Xbox 360's "blade" interface. Microsoft's console features an operating system that is, quite simply, a pleasure to behold. Sony's design for the Playstation 3 – while not offensive – isn't about to win any Miss Console beauty contests in the near future.

Xbox 360: Superior operating system

PS3 on-screen keyboard

Note: If there is one nit-to-pick in Sony's OS it's the 'on screen keyboard'. It's so bad we'd love to give it a special category outside the operating system just so it can lose. What's wrong with scrolling a mouse over a keyboard with the controller? Well, the Xbox 360 gives you an intuitive on screen keyboard that lets you select letters like you type. Sony attempts to reinvent oatmeal and ends up with something inedible.

Online community

Sony may never get as far as Microsoft in terms of creating a sophisticated and feature-rich online community. That's because Sony is offering its online play for free, clearly sacrificing profit and pretty pictures for popularity. If you want to play Call of Duty 3 on Xbox Live, it'll cost you a gold membership (around $50/year) plus the game and a network connection. PS3 owners avoid having to pay for such a subscription, instead only being responsible for the necessary hardware and hook-ups.

Playstation store

Speaking of Call of Duty 3, testing the game via Sony's online community proved futile. A connection full of players was simply not to be found, although it was easy enough to connect to (nearly) empty games while running around in a practically empty but expansive multiplayer map. Movement in the online environment was as flawless as a single player game (although again that doesn't say a lot when the connection features almost no other players). Trying to connect to a game with more than five people (the game supports up to 24) resulted in an error saying 'could not connect to user'. To be fair, it's still too early and hardly anybody is playing.

Sony Network's online store is pretty lean, perhaps as expected for a system that just opened its doors. There are downloadable games, demos and trailers – just like Xbox Live – but it's not nearly as slick. The Sony Network looks like a single web page with a few tabs and that's about it.

This one's a split so no point will be awarded. Xbox Live is clearly the superior online gaming community and it's likely the Sony Network will never be as deep. But Sony Networks is free.

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