10 PS3 tricks Sony doesn't tell you
The PS3 aint perfect, but there are ways around some of its bad points
Got a PlayStation 3? For those of you that have picked up Sony's shiny black plaything, we've put together a Digital Home top ten of tips that you won't find in the user manual.
1) Play games from any country
Harbouring a desire to play Super Gaiden Ninja XI? Now you can. In fact, you can handily play any PS3 game from any country. On holiday in the States and spot the latest release at a bargain dollar-to-pound price? Help yourself. So far, at least, PS3 games aren't being region coded. That said PS2 and PS1 games are so you can't play a US title on a Euro console.
And let's not forget that Blu-ray movies are region-coded so the barriers aren't completely down yet.
2) The secret video reset
One of the most annoying aspects of the PS3 are its video settings. Take it up to the bedroom portable or round to a friend's house and there's a good chance that you won't be able to see anything on screen because your 'new' TV is running at a different resolution or using a different cable connection. And - because you can't see anything - you can't change it.
Until now. Shut down your PS3 then restart by pressing and holding the power button.This will reset your PS3 to its most basic 480p graphics mode so you'll be able to see enough to choose RGB SCART, component, HDMI or whatever from here.
3) See how much charge is on your pad
There's no indication of how much charge is left on the pad itself. Instead it appears on screen during games. Press and hold the PS button on any joypad. An indicator will appear, showing your pad's charge as a small battery. A full battery pic means a fully-charged pad. Neat.
4) Download game saves
Chances are someone out there has already beaten that boss for you and saved their game afterwards. Why not take advantage of it? Google 'PS3 game saves'. There are hundreds of finished and half finished game saves scattered all over the internet. Download the save you want - it'll come in a 'PS3' folder that you can lift onto a USB stick and put into your PS3. Go to the Game menu, choose your stick and the game save you downloaded should be right there. Press Triangle to copy it to your hard drive.
5) Make free video phone calls
You will need a USB headset (like the one you use for PS2 Socom) and an EyeToy camera. Plug in both via USB then go to your Friends menu. Choose a friend you've signed up earlier and press Triangle. Choose Start New Chat and type a message. Something like 'Videochat?' should do the trick. Now, providing they're in front of their powered-up PS3 (perhaps you could text them to tell them to be in position?) then they'll see your message and be given the option to accept your videochat.
Now, provided they too have a camera and headset, two windows will open, one showing you (so you can make sure you're looking your best), the other displaying your mate. Best of all you can hit Triangle again and invite more people to join your chat - up to a maximum of six. And the cost? Not a bean above your usual broadband connection charges.
6) Browse multiple internet windows
Open the browser (go to Network) and surf to a page you want. Now open up the menu with a press of Triangle and choose 'Open In New Window'. Enter another URL and then do the same again. Keep going until you've got six windows open. Now press L3 (done by clicking down the left stick). You're now in multi-page mode. Move the left stick to flick through the webpages as though they were bits of paper, then click L3 again to zoom in.
7) Upgrade your hard drive
We took the drive out of our PS3 and found it to be a Seagate Momentus 5400rpm 60GB 2.5inch SATA drive. We swapped ours out effortlessly for a Seagate Momentus 120GB 2.5inch SATA drive and it worked perfectly. Remove the cover flap on the bottom of your PS3 with a fingernail. Undo the blue screw and slide the drive over to the right and out of your PS3. Undo the four screws on the 'caddy' and remove the old drive.
Put your new drive in the caddy (it should be exactly the same size, of course) and re-do the four screws. Slot it back in and slide to the left to make the connections. Re-do the blue screw, pop the cover back on and restart your PS3. Say 'yes' to the message on screen and voila - new super-size hard-drive. (Go to Settings, System Settings, System Information to check).
8) Share your bought downloads
You can download anything you've bought from the store to five PlayStation 3s. This is useful if you've got more than one PS3 (of course) and also if you've wiped your hard-drive and don't fancy paying for the same download twice...
However, you can also choose to share your download with your mates. The PlayStation Store logs how many times each download has been downloaded by each user. On your mate's PS3 Create New User and log onto the store with your ID. You'll now be able to go to your download and see that you've already downloaded whatever it was that you paid for. You can now download it again, using another of your downloads and giving it to your mate for free. Or a small optional charge...
9) Force a PS3 to show your files
Put your photos in a folder called 'PICTURE' or your videos in a folder called 'VIDEO' or simply *force* your PS3 to look at your files on your stick regardless of what you called them or where you put them. Insert your stick and go to the menu option you want (Photos, Music, whatever). PressTriangle to bring up a menu and choose Display All.
This will show every file on the stick. It even works for a plugged-in iPod, though the multi-folder structure you'll reveal is a bit baffling. Still, your songs are in there if you've got the patience to find them.
10) Change your album art
When you import a music CD your PS3 automatically pulls down the album art and stores it with the tracks. Occasionally it gets it wrong, however, or it may simply not be able to find the art of your hipper, less commercial tracks. This is easily fixed however.
Download a pic of the art you need as a jpg on your PC and put it onto a stick (in a folder called PICTURE, ideally). Copy it to your Photo menu (press Triangle). Now go to Music and select the album folder with the offending art. Press Triangle and select Information. Go to the Photo menu and select your new picture. Bingo.