The PlayStation 3 is the third home video game console produced by Sony Computer Entertainment and the successor to the PlayStation 2 as part of the PlayStation series. The PlayStation 3 competes with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles.
A major feature that distinguishes the PlayStation 3 from its predecessors is its unified online gaming service, the PlayStation Network, which contrasts with Sony's former policy of relying on video game developers for online play. Other major features of the console include its robust multimedia capabilities, connectivity with the PlayStation Portable, and its use of the Blu-ray Disc as its primary storage medium. The PS3 was also the first Blu-ray 2.0-compliant Blu-ray player on the market.
The PlayStation 3 was first released on November 11, 2006 in Japan, November 17, 2006 in North America, March 16, 2007 in the United Kingdom and Ireland and March 23, 2007 in mainland Europe and Oceania. Two stock-keeping units were available at launch: a basic model with a 20 GB hard disk drive and a premium model with a 60 GB hard drive and several additional features (the 20 GB model was not released in Europe or Oceania). Since then, several revisions have been made to the console's available models, most notably with the release of a new slim model in September 2009 to coincide with rebranding of the console and its logo.
Sony officially unveiled the PlayStation 3 (then marketed as PLAYSTATION 3) to the public along with its original boomerang style controller on May 16, 2005, during the E3 2005 conference. A functional version of the system was not present there, nor at the Tokyo Game Show in September 2005, although demonstrations (such as Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots) were held at both events on software development kits and comparable personal computer hardware. Video footage based on the predicted PlayStation 3 specifications was also shown (notably a Final Fantasy VII tech demo). The initial prototype shown in May 2005 featured two HDMI ports, three Ethernet ports and six USB ports; however, when the system was shown again a year later at E3 2006, these were reduced to one HDMI port, one Ethernet port and four USB ports, presumably to cut costs. Two hardware configurations were also announced for the console: a 20 GB model and a 60 GB model, priced at US$499 (€499) and US$599 (€599), respectively. The 60 GB model was to be the only configuration to feature an HDMI port, Wi-Fi internet, flash card readers and a chrome trim with the logo in silver. Both models were announced for a simultaneous worldwide release: November 11 for Japan and November 17 for North America and Europe.
On September 6, 2006, Sony announced that the PAL region PlayStation 3 launch would be delayed until March 2007, due to a shortage of materials used in the Blu-ray drive.
At the Tokyo Game Show on September 22, 2006, Sony announced that it would include an HDMI port on the 20 GB system, but a chrome trim, flash card readers, silver logo and Wi-Fi would not be included. Also, the launch price of the Japanese 20 GB model was reduced by over 20%, and the 60 GB model was announced for an open pricing scheme in Japan. During the event, Sony showed 27 playable PS3 games running on final hardware.
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