Like its closest competitor in the console market, the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 is a powerful computer underneath it all. Like its more mundane, desk-bound counterparts, it's capable of doing more than merely playing games -- a fact that has capitalized on by creating a number of uses for the system. Here's a look at what the system is capable of as a part of your home entertainment setup.
1. Play Blu-ray movies.
2. Play DVDs, too.
The PS3 is billed as an HD device, but that doesn't mean Sony forgot about the millions of people with large DVD collections. The system not only plays them all, but converts them to HD resolution as well.
3. Watch your video files.
PlayStation 3 has built-in support for most popular video formats, including MPEG, DivX and Xvid. Files in these formats can be played from its hard disk, USB flash drive and hard drive and from any computers connected to it via your home network.
4. Edit and upload your videos.
The PS3's video editor feature lets you edit videos stored on its internal hard drive, adding text and transitions. The finished products can be easily uploaded to and .
5. Watch Netflix, Vudu, Hulu Plus, and more.
Like the Xbox 360, the PS3 can stream video content from popular services like and (with subscription). Sony's console also supports Vudu, an alternative option featuring full-length movies and TV episodes for rent and sale.
6. Catch live sports.
The MLB.tv app for PS3 lets you watch live on the console, if you subscribe to the service. Recently, DirecTV's was also made available to PS3 users.
7. View photos.
There are multiple ways to view your photos on the PS3, from a slide show in Photo Gallery to a more elaborate 3D presentation, courtesy of the newer PlayMemories app.
8. Access a virtual world.
PlayStation Home is a living, breathing world operated by Sony and designed for PS3 users. Within it, you can interact with other PS3 users, watch movies, own real estate and, of course, play games with your customizable avatar.
9. Use Facebook, Twitter, and more.
Using the PS3's web browser, you can access a variety of social networking services, such as , , and . The system also has built-in Facebook features, such as posting updates to your wall when you unlock trophies and other in-game accomplishments.
10. Help find a cure for cancer.
This might sound like a bold claim, but it's true. Stanford University has created a of its app, which lets owners of the system donate their spare processing time to calculating data on the folding of proteins -- a pasttime that might one day lead to a cure for cancer.
11. Browse the web.
Another plus of having a web browser is that the PS3 can be used to view and use pretty much any web page. This includes webmail services and even Google Docs, should you need to get some work done when you're not playing.
12. Have voice and video chats.
Using the standard controller, Sony's clip-on keypad or even a USB or bluetooth keyboard, you can IM with PlayStation Network friends. Add a bluetooth or USB headset and you can voice chat, too. With a PlayStation Eye camera in the mix, you can even have a split-screen video chat.
13. Play CDs and stream music.
In addition to playing standard CDs, the PS3 lets you rip your music to its built-in hard disk. Furthermore, it can play music stored on your home network. Through its web browser, you can access popular music streaming sites such as . Sony has even released an app for its own music streaming service, Music Unlimited.
14. Check the world's news and weather.
From within the Life with PlayStation app, you can view an interactive 3D globe -- a realistic-looking version of Earth from space -- and zoom in to specific countries (and states) to see their weather and latest news headlines.
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