Saturday, December 20, 2008

My New Sony PlayStation 3, Part I

The Sony PlayStation 3 is a games machine and a Blu-ray player. I got it mostly for the latter purpose. I mentioned in Good Deal on Sony PlayStation 3 that I've bought a PlayStation 3 in hopes that I would be getting it for its normal price of $399.99 minus a $150 credit for getting a Sony PlayStation VISA card. I have run into problems actually securing the credit, but I do have the PS3, and I love it!

The PS3's nominal $400 price tag is a bit high, just for a Blu-ray player — but if my $150 credit comes through, my total outlay will be just a reasonable $250, plus shipping. For that amount, the buyer (me) gets what amounts to pretty much a state-of-the-art Blu-ray machine ... and a game player, too!

For those who have been living under a rock recently, Blu-ray is the videodisc format that is heir-presumptive to the DVD. Where a standard-definition DVD looks pretty darn good on an HDTV, a Blu-ray disc, or BD, is high-definition and looks superb. To play BDs, you need a Blu-ray player. It will also play DVDs just like a DVD player does, so your DVDs will never be orphans.

BD-Videos (commercially recorded BDs that physically look like DVDs, but aren't) can record movies and other fare in 1920 x 1080p high-definition. Movies use a frame rate of 24 frames per second, just as they do on film. My New Samsung LN52A650 TV, a 52-inch flat panel LCD HDTV, accepts 1920 x 1080p/24 input from the PlayStation over an HDMI cable, as will many current HDTV models on the market today. That means its 1920 x 1080p display screen is being fed, pixel for pixel, with exactly what's on the disc.

In other words, each pixel in the TV's array of 1,080 rows of 1,920 pixels per row has a different pixel to display every 1/24 second. Each screen pixel is equivalent to a tiny picture detail. You can't get better spatial resolution than that! Moreover, from movies shot at 24 fps you get every frame as is without the compromises inherent in conforming the video signal to a "normal" television rate of 60 fps.

Today, virtually any currently sold model of Blu-ray player, when combined with just about any current model of 1080p HDTV, and connected to it by HDMI, can do the same thing. This stunning video capability, even if it is head and shoulders above high-def broadcast TV, is nothing unique to either my PS3 or my Samsung TV. (It is unique, however, to the Blu-ray disc.)

Where the PS3 really excels, though,
is in its support for BD-Live.

BD-Live is also known as BD-Video Profile 2.0, and not all current Blu-ray players support it. Many earlier players still on the market today support only Profile 1.1 — a.k.a. "Bonus View" — which is not BD-Live — and some very early Blu-ray players supported only the "Grace Period" profile, Profile 1.0.

BD-Live, if also supported by the particular disc you are playing on the PS3 or some other BD-Live capable Blu-ray player, allows richer interactive content, linked to over the Internet — assuming you do as I did and point your PS3 to a wireless (or Ethernet-based, wired) network in your home.

That's right: if your Blu-ray player is like the PS3 and supports BD-Live Profile 2.0, and if the disc you are playing also supports it, you can in effect hop on the Internet from your Blu-ray player and do things like play additional bonus material like director's commentaries. There are various types of interactive content unlike anything on DVD. Among the types of special BD-Live content that I have found with the BD of Disney's WALL-E, the first BD-Video I looked at, are chat rooms and interactive games based on the movie.

In the future, all new Blu-ray players and all newly released BD titles are expected to offer BD-Live. You should not — repeat, should not — buy a player today that does not support BD-Live, a.k.a. Profile 2.0. Remember: if you fail to heed this advice, you may wind up with a player that is already obsolescent.

People who bought any of the early PS3 models that were sold before BD-Live appeared on the market are the exception to the obsolescence rule. The PS3 has always been firmware-upgradable, and firmware upgrades (the current level is 2.50) have given it, among numerous other crucial improvements, BD-Live capability.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for giving us a overview to this kind of purchase. I'm also trying to purchase the 80 GB PS3 by using the $150 Rebate offered by Sony Rewards. Can you please give me a quick summary of the best and easiest way in doing this?
I don't have a sony card or a playstation card. I'm referring to your post; and you said that it is required to wait for this card inorder to do this purchase. It's current December 20 and I'm afraid that the limited offer will be canceled before I'll even get the card. Will that really happen? What should I do?

Anonymous said...

How did u get instant approval? I didn't get instant approval and in stead of giving me the account number; they gave me the bank number which ment my application is pending for approval. Is it because of my income or occupation that I submitted. And because its currently December 20th, the limited offer is going to end before the card is even going to arrive which is about 2 weeks. What should I do, please help and answer back; Thank You

eric said...

This is in reply to the first anonymous commenter, who wanted the best and easiest way to take advantage of the $150 rebate. Click on this link:

Then click on "apply now" and go through the process of applying and getting instant approval for a PlayStation Card. If you do get approved instantly, be sure either to print out the approval page or at least write down the account number, expiration date, and CVV2 code for your new card. Then return to the link I gave above and click on "redeem now," which will take you to the Sony Rewards website, where you can establish an account, register your new PlayStation Card, and buy the PS3. I believe you will instantly get the $150 taken off the price of the PS3. (But note that you will have to pay a shipping charge.)

eric said...

This is in reply to the second anonymous commenter, who asked how I got instant approval. I assume you did not get approval right away because your credit rating is not good. Or maybe, as you said, it had to do with your income or occupation, or maybe with a combination of factors. I have to think the bank will either approve you or disapprove you quickly, though. If they approve you, there's still time for them to mail you your card in time for you to get it before the offer expires. When you get it, first use the telephone number that comes with it to authorize the card's use, then click:

to go to the Sony Rewards site and buy your PS3. (But see Getting My PlayStation 3 $150 Rebate for a rundown on some problems I had doing it that way.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reply to the second comment. How do you know if you instantly disapproved? I called the sony rewards line and they told me that my application was still pending and the results of being approved or disapproved is still being decided. My credit score should be good considering I haven't canceled any cards and have paid all my balances. I actually made another application for my wife so my chances of being approved would be higher. But she too was pending; and I'm pretty sure now that everyone doesn't get instant approval due to the amount of applications or whatever. If you dont mind can you tell me if your credit score is good and tell me your income (it can be somewhere in that range). Thank you very much; I'm really desperate for this deal.

eric said...

Well, I'm not going to advertise my income online, thank you very much! I do sympathize with you, but I really have no idea what causes a credit application not to be approved instantly. The online instant approval I got from Chase Bank, which issues the PlayStation Card, was quick, and I assume that behind the scenes my credit history and rating were looked up before approval was granted. I don't actually know what my credit score is, but I assume my credit history is good. That's about all I can tell you, except that just because you didn't get instant approval doesn't mean you won't be approved. Good luck!

eric said...

This is for commenters who were worried about time running out on the $150 rebate offer and/or not being able to get instant approval for a PlayStation Card:

It now seems that the only way to be eligible to fill out the $150 Rebate Form at the Sony Rewards (SR) site is to have purchased your PS3 from that site, using your new PlayStation Card. Just registering the card but not making the purchase at the SR site isn't, sadly, enough to allow you to use the procedure I have discussed in this blog to get the rebate.

Click here to see another version of the $150 rebate offer, this one at the SonyStyle website. Its fine print says:

"PlayStation Card is issued by Chase Bank USA, NA, and is subject to credit approval. To qualify for this offer, you must apply for your new PlayStation Card by 12/31/08. In some instances an application may require additional processing, in which case instant approval will be unavailable. To qualify for the $150 card credit, you MUST purchase a PLAYSTATION 3 system with your new PlayStation Card ("PS3 Purchase") at an authorized Sony retailer such as Sony Style store and Complete instructions will be sent upon your approval for the PlayStation Card via email. To receive card credit, your account must be opened by 01/31/2009 and PS3 Purchase must be made by 03/07/2009. Card credit will be posted to your PlayStation Card Statement within 8-12 weeks after PS3 Purchase. This promotional offer is available to new PlayStation Card accounts only and only one $150 card credit may be earned per PlayStation Card account. Existing PlayStation Card account holders or accounts are not eligible."

The part that says "Complete instructions will be sent upon your approval for the PlayStation Card via email" suggests to my mind that if you use the entry point to obtaining the rebate, rather than the one I have been discussing elsewhere in this blog that is linked particularly to the SR site, a different set of instructions will at some point be forthcoming via e-mail as to how to claim the rebate.

Hence, it looks as if the SR entry point I have been talking about in this blog is (uniquely) geared to allowing you to apply for the card, get instant credit approval (if you qualify), save the vital account number/expiration date/CVV2 code information for the PlayStation Card, and redeem the rebate offer all in one go. If you drop the ball (as I did) and fail to "redeem now," and accordingly you have to wait to receive the new PlayStation Card in the mail, and only then buy the PS3 at the SR site using that card, you then need to follow the procedure I have outlined elsewhere in this blog in order to pick the ball back up and claim the rebate.

But if you use the method, there is no "redeem now" option in the first place, and you can't drop the ball. The procedure is completely different.

For those who want the rebate and are afraid time is running out, note that in the SonyStyle fine print I quoted above it says, "To receive card credit, your account [at] must be opened by 01/31/2009 and PS3 Purchase must be made by 03/07/2009." It also says, "To qualify for this offer, you must apply for your new PlayStation Card by 12/31/08." It does not say you have to get approval for the card by that date ... just apply! It does say, "In some instances an application may require additional processing, in which case instant approval will be unavailable." I take this to mean that if you apply before 12/31/08 and additional processing is required before approval is ultimately granted, you have until 1/31/09 to open your SonyStyle account and 3/7/09 to buy the PS3, using your PlayStation Card and that account.

Anonymous said...

Wait from that last comment Eric; I'm really thankful for your gratitude; that means I should apply for this card just in case right? So if my time does expire for sonyrewards I can then buy it from sonystyles... But one major question; aren't the two cards the same and how can you apply for the same card. Do they let you do this; because they might think you're trying to buy two ps3's for the price. Thank you and please reply back as soon as possible.

eric said...


Yes, you should apply for the card. SonyStyle and Sony Rewards are two different entry points to the same $150 rebate offer based on the PlayStation Card. The Sony Rewards one is better because it allows you to redeem the $150 rebate instantly when you buy the PS3, assuming you get instant approval for the card.

If you are approved for the card, instantly or eventually, but you don't redeem the rebate instantly, you can still buy the PS3 by 3/7/2009 and get the rebate.

These are not two different cards, just two different entry points to getting a single PlayStation Card. You cannot get two separate cards in your own name and qualify for two $150 rebates on two PS3s. Nor can you get two rebates on one PS3 purchase.

So using both entry points to try to get two rebates on one PS3 purchase isn't going to work!

Anonymous said...

do you have to order the playstation 3 from sony style/rewards? Can you order it from a site like amazon or walmart,or best buy,etc.

eric said...

In theory, you supposedly can buy your PS3 at any authorized Sony retailer and get the $150 rebate that comes with:

(a) applying for a new PlayStation Card by 12/31/08 (that's tomorrow!) and

(b) instantly or eventually getting approval for the card and

(c) buying the PS3

But as I detailed in Getting My PlayStation 3 $150 Rebate and other posts to this blog, it's hard enough getting the rebate without adding to the confusion by shopping elsewhere than Sony Style or Sony Rewards.

True, shopping elsewhere may work out fine. It looks as if the provider of the PlayStation Card, which is Chase Bank, will send you an e-mail in a week or so after the card is approved ... or perhaps they wait until you receive and authorize the card, and only then send the e-mail. That e-mail supposedly gives you instructions on buying the PS3 and obtaining the rebate.

If you buy the PS3 at Best Buy, Amazon, etc., presumably the e-mail instructions you receive from Chase will point you to some version of a Rebate Form that you fill out and submit online and then print out a copy of and submit (again) by mail.

That's what happened for me, but I got my PS3 from Sony Rewards, so I can't be sure what the exact procedure is for those who buy elsewhere.

Nor can I guarantee that other routes to the $150 rebate actually work.

The main thing is to apply for the card before Dick Clark says "Happy New Year!"

Also keep in mind that you will probably need to record the UPC code from the PS3 box to be used later in filling out the Rebate Form.

Anonymous said...

If I apply tomorrow before 12 will i still be able to get the rebate

eric said...

That's my understanding ... if you apply before 12 midnight on 12/31/08, you are eligible for the $150 rebate ... but I would not wait and take a chance that you are in the wrong time zone or something. Apply now and take the worry out of being close!

Anonymous said...

hoW WILL I kno if i've been instantly approved? It just gave me a banking number and my name;

eric said...

I'm not sure what a "banking number" is. I can't tell whether you were approved, so I recommend you call Chase Bank at 1-800-935-9935, then from the menu press 0 to speak to an online banker to ask whether your card was approved. You can also call the Chase credit cards department directly at 1-877-717-7669, if the above number does not help you.

Anonymous said...

today is saturday and i applied for the card on tuesday i'm anxious to know if i was approved or not but i haven't gotten an email or letter from sony. how long should i wait before calling them.

Anonymous said...

this is same anonymous from 7:43pm i think i might have did the same thing as you. I wasn't really familar with sony rewards so i filled out the form at sony style they gave me a banking refrence number. I called up chase and they said it's similar to a conformation number and they would need my social to look up the application status i do not like to use my social on the phone, or online much so i decided to wait. On Thursday mail didn't come because of the new year, I figured I would give them until next wednesday. Do you think this is a decent wait time? How long did it take for your card to arrive?

eric said...

It took 6 days for the card to arrive, but I would allow up to 9 days before worrying.

I don't think there is much danger in giving just the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number over the phone if you want to call again and ask.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

that would not be a problem if it was simply the last four digits but the woman wanted the ENTIRE SOCIAL.That's the thing that i do not like.

eric said...

I had that happen recently. I just said, "The last four digits are XXXX," and that partially satisfied the phone rep, who then just asked me another verification question (my date of birth). You might try that same tactic and see whether it works for you. Best of luck!

Christopher Painter said...

My card came in the mail on 1/2/09 and I went back to Sony Rewards and ordered the PS3 on the same day.

Now I'm wondering how long until I have it in my hands. :-)

eric said...


My experience was that they were out of stock. Two or three days went by after I placed the order, and then I called to see why nothing had happened. I was told there were none in stock, and that it was uncertain when any would come in. But then a couple of days later I got a shipping confirmation e-mail, and the PS3 arrived a day or two after that. I hope it goes as fast for you!

Anonymous said...

I applied for my card early on december 30th and today is the 16th and it still hasn't come do you think i should be worried.

eric said...

"I applied for my card early on december 30th and today is the 16th and it still hasn't come do you think i should be worried."

Not yet, but call Chase Bank at 1-800-935-9935, then from the menu press 0 to speak to an online banker to ask about your card. You can also call the Chase credit cards department directly at 1-877-717-7669.

Anonymous said...

I finally got my card today. I've been waiting for almost a month but it's here. Should I just activate it then order from sony

eric said...

"I finally got my card today. I've been waiting for almost a month but it's here. Should I just activate it then order from sony"

Yes, first activate the card.

Then, before you go further, check to see whether you will get 0% APR for 12 months on the card balance for buying the PS3. You may have to call the card issuing bank's toll free number (1-800-935-9935 or 1-877-717-7669) to find out. If they tell you that you have to buy the PS3 at Sony Style online to get 0% APR, then that's what you should do.

If you can get 0% APR, then you can wait to pay the credit balance for the PS3 until the rebate has come through. But only do this if you are getting 0% APR.

Or, if that strategy is unavailable, you may want to buy at Sony Rewards online, so you can use that account in the future to get good deals.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

where will i get the rebate? I bought it from Sony Style (the store) and he said i could find it online but i don't know where.Please help if you can. Please give a specific link. Thanks

eric said...

I would call the Sony Style Customer Relations people at 1-800-222-7669 (SONY) to ask how to get the rebate at this point in time.