Tuesday, April 1, 2008

PS3 firmware 2.20 review


The ps3 firmware 2.20 has been out a while, but I'm just too lazy to put up this the review.

It is a pretty big update, the support of profile 2.0 puts ps3 the first machine that ever support this profile, all other standalones are still in profile 1.1 and none of those are upgradable to profile 2.0. The other big step forward is the support of subtitle for divx files, addition of a mosquito noise reduction filter for standard definition DVD, resume of DVD and none-java Blu-ray movie, and more interaction between ps3 and psp. To me, the best thing in this update is that they finally fixed the frame mixed up on my recorded OTA mpeg stream. This problem has been there the first day since I got my PS3. So I'm extremely glad to find out this fix which means I can finally streaming my recorded mpeg HD streams to PS3. But unfortunately after watching one episode of the recorded TV series, I somehow found out that PS3 might have applied some dynamic range compression to the ac3 sound track since the bass is definitely not there!!!

249e999b.jpg picture by linkai8424

So let's see the various features SONY has brought us in this update:

DSCN0339.jpg picture by linkai8424

First is the addition of the option "BD Internet Connection" under BD/DVD setting, it is the indication that PS3 has been upgraded to support Blu-ray Profile 2.0

DSCN0334.jpg picture by linkai8424

Then, audio output can be set to PSP or PS3. In PS3 mode, to my understanding is that PSP acts like a remote control to browse the song lists without turning on the tv, and the sound still comes out from the receiver. But ironically, due to the HDMI handshaking issue, some TVs have connection issue that requires to be turned on in order for the receiver to get the sound from PS3. So this feature is pointless for those kind of combination...

DSCN0340.jpg picture by linkai8424

Then comes the addition of Mosquito Noise Reduction filter for standard definition DVD, it is particular useful for poorly mastered material. Some people over avsforum also points out that the upscaling quality has been improved, I cannot confirm this comment.

I don't have time/device to verify how well the resume function works, but the people over avsforum has been talking about the limitation of this resume function. The general consensus is that if you just eject the disc, you'll lose ALL the memories of ALL the discs it previously remembers! The only disc I have tested is the Blue Gender Disc 1, the resume works when I stop the video in the middle, then turn off the system, I didn't go further to shut off the main switch though. The resume doesn't work when I stop the disc in the menu, when I restart, it plays fromt he beginning again... So looks like the resume function needs some more work to be perfect...

Lastly, it's the support of graphic based subtitles (XSUB and idx+sub) in divx files.

There's no support for separate srt/ssa/ass subtitle files...

The below shows how the subtitles look like. XSUB looks much like crappy DVD subtitles...

DSCN0329copy.jpg picture by linkai8424

DSCN0330.jpg picture by linkai8424

In order for PS3 to show any subtitles, you have to first mux the susbtitles into the divx files. Then turning on subtitles when playing back, the default is always off. There are two softwares that I know of that can do this muxing job, aviaddxsub orsub2divx. I've tried both software and found aviaddxsub to be a better choice, but still it won't let me configure the color and size of the outline of the subtitles.

Aviaddxsub only supports srt files, so if you have ssa or ass files, you should use subtitle workshop or similar application to convert to srt, but you'll definitely lose any animated/karaoke effects. Second, the srt files have to be ansi code. There's a detailed document here.

Aviaddxsub supports upto 8 subtitles, but in order to add different subtitles, there's naming standards, the software has poor GUI in this regard, that's what I can say...

Suppose the following naming convention:

mymovie.avi (main movie)

mymovie-1.srt (first subtitle)

mymovie-2.srt (second subtitle)

mymovie-3.srt (third subtitle)

mymovie-4.srt (fourth subtitle)




So you have to add 1,2,3,4... suffix to the srt file in order for the software to recognize them.

Here is the interface of the software, pretty simple to use after you figure out the naming convention:

ps3220_aviaddxsubinterface.jpg picture by linkai8424

The configuartion tab is where you need to setup the most, but they are quite intuitive to use. SUB1, SUB2... correspond to the files names above. The custom resolution is a big plus for anyone who has HD resolution divx files. Also it has the ability to break long lines rather than decrease the font size as what the sub2divx do. And it supports foreign language fonts which the sub2divx crashes every single time I try to load any Chinese fonts. The only option it is missing is the outline, you can only change the color and size of the character, but have no control on the outline, the default is black with like 1 or 2 pixel which happens to be my preference, but I would definitely appreciate if the author can add the customization option for the outline.

ps3220_aviaddxsubsetup.jpg picture by linkai8424

So overall the firmware 2.20 is a decent update, but still have a lot of room to improve. In terms of a Blu-ray player, PS3 is still currently the best choice. But in terms of a media hub, I am semi-satisfied with it's performance. If I have a choice, I would definitely get a HTPC mainly because there are still so many compatiblity issues and limitations when playing back computer based video files for the PS3.