Which games console is most web 2.0-friendly?
Surf's up for the Wii and the PS3
Both Wii and PS3 have web browsers, but it's fair to say that web surfing is a secondary feature for both. It's all about the games really, with a side-order of Blu-Ray goodness in PS3's case. However, Web 2.0 will be a factor in both - for example, Sony's upcoming Home virtual world, and Nintendo's connected News Channel and Forecast Channel.
Nevertheless, it's fair to assume that a decent chunk of Wii and PS3 owners will use the consoles for at least some regular web surfing too. So how do the respective browsers compare when faced with 15 of the most popular Web 2.0 sites? I tested them out on the likes of MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, and Last.fm to see how they performed.
Each site gets a mark out of two. Zero points means it didn't work properly. One means it worked partially, and two points means it worked well. Note, this is as much a test of how well the websites are designed as of the console browsers. Read on to find out which console scored higher.
The world's top auctions website works like a dream on both Wii and PS3, allowing you to sign in, browse for items, and splash your life savings on as many crap porcelain guinea pig ornaments as you like. Neither console has any problems. Wii: 2 points. PS3: 2 points.
I'm starting with easy ones here: Amazon is mainly text with a few pics, just like eBay. Neither Wii nor PS3 has any problems coping with the site. And before you scoff that console gamers don't read books, there's a huge selection of games and hardware available too. Wii: 2 points. PS3: 2 points.
How will the world's largest social networking site fare on the next-gen consoles? On the profile-editing and messaging side, it's absolutely fine. But a big part of MySpace is its band profiles, where you can listen to tunes. Wii can handle the embedded players, but PS3 can't. On both consoles, video is no-go. Wii: 2 points. PS3: 1 point.
Another social networking site with music and video content, and arguably one that the cool kids rate more than MySpace these days. Once again, you can do all the profile-editing and friend-adding you want on both consoles, but this time the embedded tunes work on both too. However, videos won't play on either. Wii: 2 points. PS3: 2 points.
This is purely about social networking, and the site is picking up a head of steam now non-students can sign up. With less of a focus on music and video, it's handled with ease on both consoles, with all the features surviving intact. Wii: 2 points. PS3: 2 points.
How will Google's super-popular video-sharing site fare on games consoles? Not half bad, actually. Both Wii and PS3 can search, browse, and most importantly play the site's videos. Wii point blank refuses to let you upload your own videos though, while PS3 does, but only if they're in a format that it recognises. Wii: 2 points. PS3: 2 points.
What about photo-sharing? Wii is fine for browsing other people's photos, as well as your own photo stream. You can't upload new pics though, which is a pain. PS3 can also handle the browsing, but more importantly, it can upload photos too. The scoring is slightly different here, as I'd argue uploading is more important for using Flickr than it is for YouTube. Wii: 1 point. PS3: 2 points.
Six Apart's blogging cum social-networking service is slick and easy to use on a PC, but what about on consoles? It works on Wii, but isn't totally comfortable to use, due to some weird on-screen formatting. It's not fun on PS3 either, being sluggish and not letting you upload photos with your posts. Wii: 1 point. PS3: 1 point.
On both consoles, Gmail has an irritating habit of filling the text-entry box with the entire email you're replying to, and making you scroll back through it to reply. Apparently you can turn this off within Gmail, but that's not ideal if you're also using it on a PC or Mac. Otherwise, though, it works well – and is fine if you're just checking emails. Wii: 1 point. PS3: 1 point.
The Hot New Thing in Web 2.0 circles, Twitter is about "micro-blogging" – short 140-character summaries of what you're up to. The site itself is stripped-down and simple, so it works marvellously on both consoles. Plus, if you don't have a wireless keyboard hooked up, the shorter messages are less painful to tap in on the on-screen keyboards than full blog posts. Wii: 2 points. PS3: 2 points.
Web-based RSS aggregator, which is one of the best ways to monitor news feeds on a computer. On Wii, it works perfectly. On PS3, it doesn't work at all, not allowing you to open your feeds. Wii: 2 points. PS3: 0 points.
Excellent tech news community, although it's expanded to other subjects too. It works very well on the Wii, although for understandable reasons (no copy and paste) it's tricky to submit your own stories for others to Digg. On PS3, it works, but the formatting is well and truly screwed up on-screen, making it a bit of a headache to view. Wii: 2 points. PS3: 1 point.
Social bookmarking site where you can save your favourite links, tag them, and view other people's. However, on both Wii and PS3 you're restricted to just the latter, although you can save other people's links as your own. Wii: 1 point. PS3: 1 point.
14. Google Maps
Google's very own mapping service works like a dream on the Wii, letting you search for locations, then view maps or satellite overhead photos. However, it inexplicably doesn't work at all on PS3, with dodgy formatting and broken search facilities – which after all, is how you actually find places. Wii: 2 points. PS3: 0 points.
Finally, how does this innovative personalised streaming music service shape up on Nintendo and Sony's consoles? I didn't expect it to work, yet on Wii it works smoothly, pumping your personal radio streams out of your telly or attached speakers. On PS3, it does work, but the experience of using the site is less smooth, including some snags signing in. Wii: 2 points. PS3: 1 point.
Wii - 26 : PS3 - 20
Victory goes to Opera's Wii browser, aided by the fact that two sites (Bloglines and Google Maps) didn't work at all on the PS3 browser.
However, it's worth stressing that PS3's ability to upload photos and (possibly) video gives it an advantage if you're big on this user-generated content lark.
Also, these findings could easily change as various sites get a redesign, either for the better (they're configured to autodetect a console and adapt accordingly) or for the worse (they use new plug-ins that aren't supported by the consoles). ®
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