No HDMI For Low-End PlayStation 3 Draws Ire of Gamers; Sony Brass Defends Decision

Posted Fri May 12, 2006 at 10:09 AM PDT by
PlayStatione 3 [Console & Controllers] Buyers of the "low-end" $499 model of the upcoming PlayStation 3 won't be getting an HDMI digital output, and that's just fine with Sony -- but not gamers, who are dismayed by the company's plans for the Blu-Ray driven next-gen game console, reports Ars Technica.

At this week's E3 expo, currently winding down today in Los Angeles, Sony revealed the majority of the technical and pricing details for the PlayStation 3. As reported earlier this week, the company will introduce two console options: a $499 20 GB model, and its pricer $599 80 GB big brother. Though both come with a Blu-Ray drive built in, only the $599 model includes HDMI outputs; the $499 console only features analog connectors.

Though the lack of an HDMI output on the lower-end model has been greeted by complaints from gamers and HD enthusiasts alike at E3, yesterday Sony CEO of Computer Entertainment Kaz Hirai defended the company's low-end PS3 model, which also lacks a memory card reader and the larger storage capacity of its more expensive sibling.

"The only [real] difference is HDMI -- and at this point, I don't think many people's TV's have that," said Hirai. "The ultimate result, to my eyes anyway, is there's not a discernible difference between what you get between HDMI and other forms of high definition."

Hirai's comments have already drawn considerable ire from observers, who challenge Hirai's claim. As Ars Technica points out:
That's a debatable assertion at best. Take a stroll through the aisle of your local big box consumer electronics retailer. A good proportion—if not an outright majority—of the HDTVs for sale there have HDMI ports. Even if most people currently do not have HDMI-capable displays, they will at some point. Then they will be stuck with an expensive console and Blu-ray player without an HDMI port. And people who have just dropped two large on a big-screen HDTV are not going to watch digital content piped in over an analog connection.
Also at issue is the Image Constraint Token (ICT), which is built into the spec for both Blu-ray and HD DVD. If a content provider chooses to employ ICT on a software disc, it would "down res" the output resolution over any non-HDMI analog output, thereby degrading the image quality from high-def to standard definition levels.

When prodded further on the issue of whether some PS3 owners thus won't be able to watch Blu-ray movies in high-def, Hirai was "evasive," reports Ars Technica, with the Sony exec saying that it is "too early to speculate at this point" if Sony and other studios would decide to implement ICT on their Blu-Ray titles.
Tags: High-Def Gaming, PlayStation 3, Sony (all tags)