The PS4 has been out for a week now, and if you bought one, you’ve likely moved your PS3 to the closet or little brother’s room to free up some space for Sony’s new console. However, you might want to go grab that PS3 before your little brother gets too attached, as there are still some important roles the console can fill in your daily media consumption routine.
Currently, the most glaring lacking feature of the PlayStation 4 is its inability to be a fully-fledged home media hub. It does not have DLNA or MP3 support, and it does not recognise external media, so you can’t play video or music from a USB drive. If you partake in the seedier side of the Internet in order to watch TV shows and movies by downloading and subsequently transferring the files onto a USB stick, the PS4 cannot be your go-to media player. The Xbox One doesn’t really perform these functions either, as it only has a Microsoft-approved DLNA streaming feature.
The PS3 is one of the best all-round set-top media devices on the market. It’s a cheap Blu-ray and DVD player with the most popular media streaming services available (such as Netflix), it can play games and music, can access media stored on external drives, and can also (very easily) stream media from other devices. The PS3 really was the entertainment media hub Sony boasted it could be, and it’s odd that Sony has seemingly backed away from that versatility with the PS4.
Both the PS4 and Xbox One have abandoned backwards compatibility. The Wii U can play Wii games, but chances are you either don’t have a Wii U, or don’t have many Wii games. Either way, the PS3 is the most recent backwards compatible game console that reaches the furthest back into the history of video games. The launch PS3 was backwards compatible with both the PS2 and original PlayStation libraries, which are not only vast, but are widely regarded (the PS2 in particular) as the best combined gaming library there is. Now that we’ve had the full run of PS3 games, that library is only stronger, as it adds games like The Last of Us, the Uncharted series, the full run of Rock Band (if you’re still into that), and many other quality titles.
Also, the PS4 – at least for now – won’t play any of your PS3 PSN games, so you’ll still need your PS3 to play games like Journey.
Unfortunately, Sony removed the backwards compatibility from the PS3 relatively soon after its release, mainly due to cost issues. However, you can still find these consoles on reseller markets such as eBay and Amazon, and you can also dabble in the land of refurbished electronics.
Whereas Microsoft has mainly shifted focus to the Xbox One, the PS3 still has some pretty big titles coming up that aren’t available on the PS4. Gran Turismo 6, which is out today, is easily the biggest, while the upcoming The Last of Us: Left Behind campaign DLC will be releasing sometime early next year.
If you’re into the Fabula Nova Crystallis business Square Enix has (sadly) been stubbornly continuing since Final Fantasy XIII released back in 2009, the third part of the FFXIII trilogy, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, is set to release in February next year. On top of that, Persona 5 will be released as a PS3 exclusive (for some crazy reason) sometime in 2014.
So even though the PS4 has just been released, the PS3 is still a versatile entertainment hub. You can grab a brand new PS3 for around £150 right now. If you value the backwards compatibility, you’ll need to hunt around for a used console – but regardless of the backwards compatibility, the PS3 is still one of the most versatile household entertainment media hubs available, and it performs more functions than a PS4 on an overall level.
For more on Sony's new console, see our Xbox One versus PlayStation 4 speed showdown, and our guide to replacing or upgrading the PS4's hard drive.