Sony PS2 Computer Entertainment System

The Sony PS2 represents a great leap in home entertainment with the merging of our favorite of home cinema cinema viewing, DVD as well as the solid game play of a the Sony Playstation all wrapped into one black sexy looking console. So now it has come to pass that I review the great beast of a machine, is it worth the asking price of $749.00? Or is it a complete waste of money at the current price? Lets find out shall we? Upon looking at the package, you are greeted with the following items inside the box.

1x PS2 Console
1x Analog Dual Shock 2 Controller
1x AV Cable
1x Power Cable
1x Instruction Manual
1x Warranty Card
1x PS2 Demo Disc

System Connections

Looking at the console, it is good to note that it is a solid and rather hefty looking unit as opposed to some systems which look like they are cheaply made and barely held together.

The back of the unit contains the following connections. Firstly there is the obligatory power switch at the which does differ from the original PSOne as you can put it standby mode for next use. A standard AV out socket is included at the back for connection to the television or receiver, as I said before the system comes with standard AV connections but there are separately available S-Video and component video cables also available.

Other connections on the back of the unit include an optical digital output to connect up to your receiver/amplifier for Dolby Digital/DTS digital sound. Also on the back is an expansion bay to install the optional Hard Disk Drive which will become available mid next year as well as a connection for broadband Internet which should come online mid next year, so long as Telstra gets there thumb out of their proverbial!

The front of the unit contains the main drive unit towards the right hand side as well as an eject button as well a button which serves as a power on/reset button. 2 controller ports and 2 memory card slots are also present and serve the same function as on the previous Playstation.

Also present on the system are 2 USB ports as well as an IEEE1394 fire wire connection for digital video connection and connection of USB devices, although they probably will not be very functional until the Hard Drive becomes available.

Gameplay Thoughts

When you first turn on the system, your greeted with a fancy PS2 intro screen which will boot into the system configuration if no disc is inserted which will allow you to change screen dimensions, sound output etc. The first disc I played with was the demo disc included with the system. This includes demos from FIFA 2001, Fantavision, Tekken TAG as well as some system demos and a personal favorite of mine, YABASIC. YABASIC is a very basic coding program that allows you to make  simple games and store them onto the optional memory card for future playback. Games wise I tested FIFA 2001, NHL 2001, Fantavision and Silent scope.

Of all the games I have played so far, NHL 2001 has been the most impressive of the lot with excellent game play graphics, realistic graphics, fun replays, good commentary and great sound. Graphically most of the games really do look sensational and very realistic, right down to the little things like characters facial movements, weather effects and more. The "Emotion Engine" looks good even though no game will fully exploit the system for at least  a year or more. There are some letdowns as well, Fantavision is one of the most fun games to play on the system but it is technically lacking when it comes to visuals. On the whole though, the PS2's graphics are far above what I have seen from any previously available console and even the SUC..... oh sorry SEGA Dreamcast. (SEGA lovers you can send hate mail here, I know how defensive you are about your console.)

DVD Thoughts

DVD playback on the PS2 is a hit a miss affair, not with the quality of playback mind you which is generally good. The DVD player supports 16:9 as well as 4:3 playback, DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, subtitles, angles and the like. The most annoying thing with the DVD playback is that there is no remote control in the box. Control of the DVD player is possible with the Sony controller, but it is cumbersome and the cable only reaches about a meter from the PS2 itself. For easy use of the PS2 DVD function, the purchase of a 3rd party remote control is required. (Sony do not yet have an official remote available yet.) The receiver portion of the separate remote plugs into the first controller port and then it acts like a standard remote, if a little ugly. Personally I would wait until the official Sony remote comes out as it has a better design than the 3rd party remotes out there.

Now onto disc playback. In a word, quite good. While not as good as say a $800 player, the performance is on par with a $500 or so level player. The picture is sharp and clean (Even better with the component cables of course.) Layer changes on several discs were quite good with only a 1/2 second wait between layer changes. The picture is a little dark on most discs but this is the only real small downside of the player.

Final Thoughts

The PS2 is certainly a leap ahead in the technology stakes. The addition of a DVD player and games console along with the future use of broadband Internet and an optional Hard Drive will one day make this a premier entertainment system. But, at the moment, I personally believe that it's a little expensive considering the extra remote,


memory card, stand and obligatory game. You could easily spend over a grand getting the extras for this console. If the stand, remote & memory card were included for $749, it would be a more value packed console, but as Sony have said, the console won't drop in price for about a year so it's either wait for the price drop, or drop for the big expense on the system now. It's your call.

Copyright 2000 by [Roger Ward].
Revised: 19 Dec 2000 21:23:41 +1000 .