Playstation 3 Retirement Assignment: The Family Fallback for ‘The Other Room’

The sun may be setting on the PlayStation 3's reign, but we may have one last job for the ole slab.

My parents, who fall comfortably into the ‘over sixty’ age bracket, wanted to set up an affordable multi-purpose media centre to provide a retreat to watch movies.

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It would be mainly for my Mum, as my Dad would often commandeer the living room for viewing marathons of sports, news and dull programmes about canal boats or eighteenth century chimneys. The retreat also needed to offer some low maintenance entertainment for visiting grandchildren.

After convincing my Mum that Blu-Rays wouldn’t play on her DVD-capable laptop no matter what downloadable software claimed otherwise, I directed her to a more sensible solution – the PlayStation 3.

Old people + consoles + grandchildren. What could possibly go wrong?

PS3: No Knacker’s Yard Yet

The advent of the next generation of consoles including the PlayStation 4 has turned the former luxury purchase of a PlayStation 3 (which had managed to hold its price surprisingly well for 7-year-old technology) into a cost-effective family-friendly entertainment centre for “The Other Room”.

With some judicious price-checking, you can pick up a PlayStation 3 for less than $200. There are many models available, both new and used, but only the latest 5th generation Super Slim Playstation 3s are still in production.

However, the preceding Slim and Standard models are still widely in stock and would all do the job. It’s really buyer discretion if you’re comfortable with a second-hand or reconditioned model, but wait until PS4 release (“Holiday 2013” in the US, possibly later in Europe) and some folk might be giving them away.

[PS3 Generations Timeline table courtesy of Wikipedia.]

PS3 model variations are defined by their hard drive sizes. The earlier models range from 20GB to 320GB. The current Super Slim 500GB and 250GB models are available in the US and other NTSC video regions, whereas in PAL regions like the UK, the smaller model instead has a 12GB flash drive, which was fine for our needs.

A large hard drive is only really necessary for lots of concurrent game installs, media downloads or storage. 12GB would be fine for a few games for the grandchildren and most media will either be streamed or on disk. There were plenty of other storage solutions available (networked PCs, USB sticks, external hard-drives etc.).

Out to Pasture

The PS3 was a perfect fit for the parental family home for the following reasons:

  • It was a robust, quiet device that came with a reliable Blu-Ray player.
  • It was easy to set up and had a simple, no fuss interface (referred to as XrossMediaBar or XMB).
  • It was internet-ready (LAN or wireless b/g) and the addition of Netflix, Lovefilm and other TV apps offered ample viewing material.
  • Plenty of cheap or free-to-play games were available to download (although old PS2 games only work on early PS3s)

However, there were a couple of hurdles to overcome. Namely the grandparents and the grandchildren…

NEXT: Making the PS3 Grandparent Friendly

 

PlayStation 3 Retirement Assignment Series
  1. The Family Fallback for ‘The Other Room’
  2. Making the PS3 Grandparent Friendly
  3. Childproofing the PlayStation 3: Parental Control Guidance
  4. PlayStation 3: Age Appropriate Gaming and Protecting Your Credit Card

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Author
Mat Westhorpe
Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.