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Console Disappointments: The PS3 Web Browser

Welcome to the first in a possible series of submissions – if not articles depending on actual approval – about my opinion about certain aspects of this console generation. Perceived disappoints to be exact. I’ll try to keep them short, sweet and hopefully thoughtful.

First up: the PS3 browser. Something that I’ve defended on more than one occasion, given suggestion for sites to visit, but can only admit has problems. And while its far from being as good as the worst browser on a PC you can think of, as a casual use application I’ve found it good enough for an evening of Youtube rather than a few minutes in a chair and a monitor smaller than my TV. Accepted the reality it crashing for no real reason because as system updates came, the browser became more stable.

It also, at least on a site which is in assumed partnership with Sony, has allowed for direct video downloading from the console, become less accessible. Videos cannot be voted or comment on, searches can be run but anything other options also call up a search, direct management of personal accounts is impossible, and really oddly, videos in channel pages wont run. There also seems to have been a drop in picture quality which becomes obviously noticeable when an ad run at a higher resolution.

There is the alternative of YoutubeXL which was supposedly made specifically for the PS3, but its exactly as worthless as the main site has become. Useable but non-interactive. A problem that Youtube proper started to have soon after XL was introduced, and really strangely, one that kept recurring after a PS3 system update seemingly fixed the issue. In other words, the site went from working as it would in any other browser, to having function become inactive, to working properly once more after an update before turning semi-inactive again. To within literal days with updates eventually having no effect.

It took the rumored announcement of Youtube looking into the creation of an app similar to Netflix and Hulu for all consoles to suggest the obvious: that it was Youtube itself which was limiting the PS3’s browser to their site. From a business standpoint, especially if they decide to go with some pay-based model or limited exclusivity with this app they may eventually make, having one of the three gaming systems already having free and decent access would put them in a weak bargaining position. And blocking it overnight, suddenly reducing access to its actual current state, would just piss people off while telling them exactly why they were doing it. Better to lower the bar early.

BlipTV and Dailtymotion are other little mysteries that come to me. Don’t know if they both use the same streaming player, just that were once I could watch videos from them and associated sites directly, I haven’t been able to do so for close to two years. MP3 file content can be directly downloaded, but anything else has to be streamed from PC. Old phased out web code is likely to blame, but like the issues with Youtube there was a period where an update fixed the issue. Then another happened which brought it up again.

So where I’m sort of pointing a conspiratorial finger at Youtube for pulling a semi-Hulu, I’m outright stabbing it at Sony. Given that both sites host pirated content along with tons of legitimate web-shows – Spoony, That Guy With the Glasses – its not to far a stretch that such was done to control what content gets onto the PS3. And again, both these sites are about as well known as Youtube.

Now, I’m only offering my own opinion and conjecture, but if what I’m suggesting is true then this has more validity then OtherOS. Is something Sony has offered as open, yet for whatever reason – changes in management and policy – have covertly scaled back and are controlling. It also occurs to me that if Geohot and Anonon were even a fraction of the everyman hero they think they are, they’d look into the PS3;s browser code to see why it is what it is.

Oh well, so much for short...

Please note I'm not talking about the overall quality of the PS3's browser, but that it can and has been manipulated. Certainly by Hulu and Youtube, but possibly Sony as well. That it is at the quality that it is because its manipulatable. That if at all possible this should be shown and Sony made to answer for it because - in spirit at the very least - it was offered as an open platform.

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Ingram2572d ago (Edited 2572d ago )

Absolutely agree, the infamous Netfront browser though better than nothing, is pure mainure.I've always wondered if Chrome is really that heavier, I find it hard to believe that is impossible to implement.Did Sony signed a whole generation contract for Netfront or what?

Also, youtubeXL, oh my...what have we done to deserve this?

Furthermore, most TV on demand channels using the same Netfront browser is...let's say very dissapointing.

Godmars2902572d ago

What I'm basically saying is:

1) While offered as a free and open extension, Sony has the ability to limit the browser's accessibility just as 3rd parties such as Hulu - and Youtube - have shown that they can restrict it as well.

2) Given #1, there's little to no chance there'll ever be another browser app on the PS3.

3) Maybe this is a chance for hackers to positively express their energy and expose Sony's possible covert control. Embarrass them while setting president that could help in the otherOS case.

That, or get them to remove the browser, which will really make some noise.

Non_sequitur2572d ago

Does anyone know what deal Sony made with the makers of Netfront? How do we know that Sony didn't come to agreement to use their browser for the entire generation?

Pedobear Rocks2570d ago

Or...if the hackers had not been dicks we'd all still have OtherOS and could run a browser under linux....just sayin'

ultimate-remag2571d ago

disappointment: xbox 360 NO WEB BROWSER....

Godmars2902571d ago

Since the main hidden issue is about control of content, chances are slim to none that MS will never offer a web browser. They'll certainly try to get some exclusive time with a Youtube app if that ever happens, and XBL will be required.

trounbyfire2571d ago

I love the ps3 browser. I use fackebook and twitter mobile and gmail and N4g.

my router broke so i am on my PC more that i like to be but a better browser would be nice

MidnytRain2571d ago (Edited 2571d ago )

But let's be honest, it could be alot better. It gets tiring having to put up with its random issues. Did you know I can't even view the PlayStation website properly? Certain sites like have been known to insta-freeze the console. At random moments, pages will load for indefinite periods of time. Sometimes this will even happen when loading just two pages. If the thing starts running into problems with only a couple of simple web pages, wh would they give me the option of opening five? Buttons on alot of pages don't even work (I can never click on the bottom link under "Forums" on the front page of N4G) and sometimes I'll get trapped in the keyboard window and be forced to turn off my PS3. I've also encountered the annoying issue of running out of memory. What's this? Too many complex websites open? Okay, I'll close one. But then it still doesn't have enough memory, so I'm forced to close another one. This repeats until I don't have any pages open. What sense does that make? If I had just one of those pages open, I would've been fine. But as soon as the max is reached, it's suddenly unable to process anything and makes me close all of them.

I really wish Sony could release a better web browser.

BlackTar1872571d ago

i have problems with Yahoo sports like fantasy and all that stuff. or you can't even go to it will freeze. Although its free i agree it has issues but i guess that's why its free.

trounbyfire2571d ago

WTF i said "a better browser would be nice"

get of my back

MidnytRain2571d ago (Edited 2571d ago )


I'm sorry if you felt offended by my post. I was criticizing Sony's decision with the web browser, not you. In fact, I didn't mention you in my post at all, so I don't know why you feel I was "on your back". I might have misunderstood you. Maybe you shouldn't let your sentences run together like that.

phalanx_mark2571d ago

Netfront is used because of its small memory footprint no doubt but a customised version of firefox or chrome would be awesome. I think opera did an excellent job with the wii considering the constraints there! The most frustrating thing about using netfront on ps3 is using a dualshock rather than a mouse. Personally i use a keyboard/trackpad combi but I want a Move update Sony!

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