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Since I purchased my PS3 several months ago, I have come to the conclusion that it has been one of the best electronics purchases I have ever made, behind switching to Macs. Even though I’m not much of a gamer, I get tons of use out of my PS3. That’s not to say I don’t use my PS3 for games. In fact, I think I have more games for the PS3 already than I do for the Wii, which I’ve had for a few years. Titles like Assasin’s Creed 2, Modern Warfare 2, Red Dead Redemption, Modnation Racers and the most innovative game, Heavy Rain, are games that I could not pass up. But again, I’m just a casual gamer. What I really use my PS3 for is playing back video files/discs.

Sony might not always do everything right (betamax, minidisc, memory stick, UMD), but they got a lot right with the PS3, and that includes a Blu-Ray Player. The PS3 is an excellent Blu-Ray player, and while I only have a few Blu-Ray titles, the inclusion of the player alone made the heftier price tag for the console worth it. In case you were wondering, it also plays standard DVDs as well. Since I am a movie buff, my PS3 gets a lot of use playing video discs. Great games and graphics and built in Blu-Ray/DVD player still isn’t the tipping point for me though. Yes, those things are great, but what really made this one of my best purchases ever was Rivet. I’ve written about Rivet before, but in short, it allows me to stream music and video files from my Mac to my PS3, and the quality is fantastic. This is a must-have feature of any device serving as a media center.

Add the Netflix Watch Instantly disc to the rest and you have the (almost) perfect solution for a media center. Netflix streaming via the PS3 is also in HD, much better quality than you get when watching via a computer. I recently watched all 5 seasons of FX’s Rescue Me using the Netflix disc on the PS3. The only thing I wish I could do is stream shows/movies from places like Hulu. Unfortunately, the PS3 browser does not support the version of Flash needed for viewing sites like Hulu. I’m hoping someone like Rivet could step in with a work around. I really wish the television networks would realize that TVs just aren’t TVs anymore. They can do much more, and should allow their sites to be displayed on any device. If they would, the PS3 would be the ultimate device for my media center needs.

One of the first things I tried doing when I got my PS3 is turn it into a media center without modding the system. I’ve heard of several different ways people were doing this but also heard that the PS3 lacked the ability to play some of the most popular codecs. I also needed the server software to run on my iMac, and not Windows. While on my search for creating the ultimate solution I found Rivet.

I downloaded and tried the Rivet demo and found that the app was easy to use. It required very little set up. I turned on my PS3 and found that my designated folders were showing up on my PS3. I was able to listen to music and look at my photos. Then came the true test, AVI files. I navigated to my videos directory and tried playing an episode of How I Met Your Mother. No luck. Six Feet Under didn’t work either. The Sopranos was next. Needless to say, it didn’t work and I decided Rivet should sleep with the fishes.

Fast forward a couple months and I decided to try giving Rivet another shot. Downloaded the demo again (it gives you 25 free video streams). The configuration was just as easy as before and it was showing up in my PS3 within seconds. So here comes the ultimate test, part 2. I played The Big Bang Theory. Success! I played Battlestar Galactica. Success again! I played an episode of Scrubs XVID encoded. Success again! So Rivet now works flawlessly with my PS3 and the videos look great on my TV. I don’t think I could be any happier with it. Minutes after installing I purchased the app for the low price of $19.95 and haven’t looked back since. So if you’re looking for a media streaming solution from your Mac to your PS3, I highly recommend Rivet.

I recently purchased a PS3 and one of the games I purchased with it was the much-hyped Assasin’s Creed II. I’ve never played the original but I heard great things about the sequel and the video of the game play looked amazing. After playing it for a couple of weeks off and on I beat it. For most gamers, that is not a big deal, but I’m not most gamers. In fact, I wouldn’t even call myself a gamer. I have a Nintendo Wii and I love it because it makes gaming casual. I wanted the PS3 because of a handfull of games that are coming out and for the BluRay player for when I purchase an HD TV. Anyway, beating this game was a big deal for me because games rarely hold my attention long enough for me to actually beat them. The only other game I have ever beat on any system in my life was Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64.

ACII was a great game because the story kept you interested. Normally I can only play games for 15 minutes before I get bored with them and want to turn them off. ACII wasn’t like that, but even if I did want to quit after a short amount of time there were plenty of checkpoints to make sure I didn’t lose my progress. The scenery was amazing and the game play was smooth. The building looked almost real and the scenes where the city would erect before you were awesome. I can only imagine how great it looks on an HD TV. The cut scenes that helped move the story along were great, if not long at points. The only time in the game where I questioned the makers’ choice was when I was forced to go all around Italy to gather Codex pages in order to progress the story. It was almost as if the developers said, “We need to make this game longer, how do we do it? Let’s send the player on a long scavenger hunt.” Besides that point in the story, everything else was great.  There were missions that you had to do and several others that you could skip.  And it doesn’t matter if you skip them because once you beat the game you still have free reign to go about the other missions, which I’m currently doing now. The final level snuck up on me fast and I was surprised at how easy it was to beat the final level, but I wasn’t disappointed. I’d have to say this should probably be up there as one of the top games of the year, but since I don’t game that much I can’t really make that call. All I can do is tell you that the game was fun and beautiful with a great story and great graphics. If you have a PS3 (or XBOX 360) you should buy this game.