I wasn't as excited as some people about the release of the Playstation 3 (PS3) game console. I didn't camp out overnight in the parking lot of the local electronics store so I could be the first kid on my block to own one. I didn't rob anyone at gunpoint so I could sell my stolen PS3 on EBay for $2000. I was curious however, to see the PS3 web browser in action.
PS3 browser showing the maximum of six "tabbed" windows.
I happen to know some people who know some people and I got to play around with a PS3 for about an hour. My test PS3 was fully updated with the latest firmware and was connected to a nice big HD LCD screen. I also had a USB keyboard on hand so it was a LOT easier to type in URLs.
The "Secret" Web Browser
Earlier in the week, I did some research and I turned up very little about the PS3 browser. The first obvious link is the Playstation 3 User's Guide but it just lists the basic features and controls. Next, I got a hint as to the browser developer from this Wikipedia article which states,
"The PlayStation 3 uses a version of the NetFront browser by Access Co. as its internal web browser. It is the same browser used in the PSP (Sony-branded NetFront 2.81) with the same interface, menus and virtual keyboard. Its user agent string is cloaked, falsely reporting as Mozilla/5.0 (PLAYSTATION 3; 1.00)."
Document Object Model
The browser test page running in Opera Mini on a Samsung A900 phone.
The same test page running in the PS3 browser.
Next, I tried the Design215 Document Object Utility, another simple tool that lets you select an object like "document.links" and get any returned value along with a list of properties for the object. I figured I would start with the easiest one so I selected "document" from the select list. The PS3 returned... nothing! nada! zip! How nice.
The good news is that DHTML layers are supported. The bad news is that it's a bit tricky. As you can see in the next screenshot, Design215.com's rollover menus work and appear at the proper location in the window. In the following screenshot of PoeStories.com, the vocabulary word definitions appear relative to the screen, not relative to the containing DIV. This is the time when some Document Object Model info would be nice.
Design215's DHTML/CSS rollover menus work okay in PS3.
DHTML tooltips in PoeStories.com aren't appearing at the correct location.
AJAX Support? Maybe Not
Although this NetFront page claims their mobile browser supports AJAX, I could not prove this true on the Playstation 3. I Googled AJAX tutorials, tried a dozen of the simplest examples, and none of them worked. Finally, I decided to try Gmail because I figured Google's AJAX support would be good as anyone's. Unfortunately when I logged in to my test account, Gmail reverted to a plain HTML version I had not seen before. At the top of the page it says, "For a better Gmail experience, use a fully supported browser". It looks like Web 2.0 ain't gonna fly on a PS3.
Gmail reverts to a plain HTML version with no AJAX.
Flash Support? Well... YouTube Works!
From what I can tell, the PS3 browser comes with the Flash plugin already installed. When I visited YouTube nothing happened at first until I realized there was a PS3 dialog box in the background asking if I wanted to allow the plugin on the page to run. Once I clicked Yes, the iTalk conceptual video played flawlessly.
iTalk video ad on YouTube playing in PS3
The Playstation 3 browser is somewhere between a mobile device browser and a regular desktop browser. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any published specs.
As I gather more information, I'll add to this page. If anyone would like to contribute their findings, please contact me.
Recent links to this article:
09 Mar 2008 3:33am
"Hey good article. Thanks for looking into this. There is not a whole lot of information out there concerning the technology behind the browser and with many homes now using the PS3 as their home theatre/entertainment box with internet capabilities it would be important to be able to render sites correct within the browser provided by the PS3. I guess if you were serious about browsing the web via your PS3 you could install Ubuntu but for the regular Joe this isn't an option."
03 Apr 2008 11:57am
"Sweet! I agree, the web browser does suck. Hopefully there will be an update but I doubt it"
12 May 2008 7:50pm
"Great article. Let's hope Sony realise half a browser is little better than no browser at all. Needs a major update... video streaming is lousy and Adobe need to get a newer SDK out as flash 7 (flash 7 lite?) doesn't cut it in 2008!"
14 May 2008 12:13am
"Still no support for AJAX in recent PS3 system software that i can see ..."
15 Jun 2008 8:15am
"the PS3 browser does in fact support ajax. I'd be interested to see what sort of tests you were using. I have used jQuery a lot with the Ps3 browser and all of the ajax functions I tested worked quite well. currently my biggest problem is with divs which scroll their overflow, I am using one to hold a list of links, which when I hover over them, should update the contents of another div with a summary of the link you are hovering over. this causes the scrolling div to jump back to the top.:("
17 Jul 2008 3:44pm
"We are using the PS3 to browse a network share full of MP4 video's (have apache serving up the content raw, no html files) Click on a filename to stream, triangle and go through the menu to select save target etc. I am trying to come up with a way to present the same list of files, each with a stream btn and download btn. However, the browser isn't responding correctly to "application/octet-stream" and tells me the data is corrupt or not supported! Any ideas what I can try for the data type?"
27 Jul 2008 8:59pm
"paid lots for ps3 and cant play netflix streaming videos, what gives?"
04 Aug 2008 3:34am
"If you are looking forward to use full-featured browser in PS3, try installing yellow dog linux on it."
23 Aug 2008 4:11am
"Not all flash works. It recognizes youtube but thats the old flash player, it doesn't recognize the new flash player on some other sites which use it, and i found out that "adobe" the maker of flash player doesn't have an appropriate download plugin for the ps3 to be able to use it, it only has the usual pc and mac and other types of normal computers. Really if the companies like "adobe" and "shockwave" and "java" made downloadable plugins like for there computers but for the ps3 we would all benefit!"
14 Sep 2008 6:18pm
"I am a bit disappointed about this browser. I am usually not making very high-tech internet pages, especially because I want my coding as simple as can be. The browser however is not responding to a simple embed audio with mouseover coding. I think Sony has to support this more than they do now."
30 Oct 2008 6:15am
"It is just yet another IE. It even reads its conditional comments (!). How sad is that?!"
18 Nov 2008 6:41am
24 Nov 2008 5:17am
"I'm interested in all that can go wrong doing a partition for an additional OS install... I can imagine All HD data being lost in the process so i'm not about to Labotomize this PS3 just to be able to install a fully functional browser... I just wish network-streaming broadcasts were more functional.... HEROES on NBC (I Think NBC) only plays the ADS! Then Hangs! Doh... Hotmail is a write off... No Basic HTML... Wow Frustrating..."
07 Dec 2008 7:21pm
"I was told that the PS3 browser can be used with the Netflix online service to download movies. Does anybody done this or know anything about it? Thanks ahead for any info"
06 Jan 2009 5:10am
"Not sure why you bought your PS3 but I purchased my console to play games and watch Blu-ray movies. Other reasons include the built in card reader, (which is brilliant with its slide show) free PS network, PS home, and the store. The last thing I needed my PS3 to do well was browse the internet. As far as I am concerned, its the last thing Sony needed it to do also, and it does the job well. The whining is getting old. I have 4 other computers here and still enjoy surfing on the big screen."
03 Feb 2009 9:09am
"yes the netflix service works with the ps3 i have done it with several diffrent movies its not hard at all."
13 Feb 2009 9:07pm
"I just watched 3 episodes of Fringe on hulu.com. Plays great on full screen and on my 65 inch HD TV with HDMI cable from the PS3, it's a great way to miss what's on TV ;)"
17 Feb 2009 1:39pm
"I can also confirm that AJAX works, but there is something else that bothers me. For some reason, if I navigate to deeplinks (not in the website root) in my site on a PS3 browsers, .NET Crashes, claiming some sort of traversal not being supported (seems like the old IIS 5.0 exploit stuff), even tho no such requests show up in my ISS log: 2009-02-17 22:55:26 W3SVC1 <srvr_ip> GET /PS3/Games/51/Buzz-Quiz-TV-met-4-Wireless-Buzzers.aspx - 80 - <IP_MASKED> Mozilla/5.0+(PLAYSTATION+3;+1.00) 500"
20 Mar 2009 2:47am
"If Sony is really interested in improving their sales on this product, they better fix the browser. I can't see why they just don't have Opera ready to download off the PS3 Site. I'm not interested in installing a Linux Operating system, as another million lines of code just makes things too complicated."
13 Jul 2009 4:00pm
"I agree..It would be very beneficial to upgrade the browser in a regular update or something.."
17 Jul 2009 11:12pm
"Great article. Developing for Flash in the PS3 browser is what im trying to find out about and stumbled here, perhaps a follow up article would be good to address some of the updates that have happened since? from what I understand the browser supports flash 9 content as of update 2.50, and fullscreen flash from 2.53. So I guess it supports actionscript 3 (not that it matters because I havent upgraded since adboe took over)."
27 Jul 2009 1:30pm
"i do have linux on my PS3, which has firefox... what more should one needs?"
31 Jul 2009 1:22pm
"hi there can anyone think of a way to install applications like bittorrent? it says i need to select a storage media device, i'm assuming based on the user manual from sony that it will not directly install onto the ps3 hd however i'm wondering if i hooked up a camera or external hd through usb if it will even start up on the ps3 OS. please let me know if anyone has figured something out."
09 Oct 2009 12:34pm
"there are a lot of multi media sites out there that are getting to terms with the fact that there are 27 million ps3 owners already, and sony is kinda telling those site owners to become ps3 friendly. i only wish MEGAUPLOAD would get the idea soon. If you search hard enough you will find plenty of movie, streaming and audio sites that let you even download hassle free hell even direct from YOUTUBE"
19 Oct 2009 5:35pm
"I agree that the PS3 WEB does suck but you have to remember most Web based pages are from Microsoft and PS3 is Sony.. Their hate for one another honestly is taken out on the ones who buy Sonys outdated PS3 WEB servers.. I just wish there was a hack out there to bypass their hate for Microsoft.."
16 Nov 2009 8:58pm
"The processing power and graphics performance on the PS3 are well suited for internet streaming. Unfortunately, it seems the pay per view revenues must be greater incentive for Sony than the potential increased console sales that may be actualized with a fully functional browser. The browser is an important feature, I hope Sony sees the light."
28 Nov 2009 7:28pm
"Hey, come on now. It's just really in its infancy as far as browsers go. It's a game machine. But there is plenty of upside. I like to kick back in my lazy boy and read my email on the telly."
01 Jan 2010 6:40pm
"im on my ps3 atm and the browser sucks, the lack of hypervisor sucks, and the lack of ps2 support BUT PS1 games are supported sucks... BUT MYSPACE DOESNT WORK in its entirety on here, yet theres a facebook icon...."
30 Jan 2010 12:21pm
"how did you get Hulu to play on PS3? I tried and the plug in doesn't work."
04 Feb 2010 12:33am
""Not sure why you bought your PS3 but I purchased my console to play games and watch Blu-ray movies. Other reasons include the built in card reader, (which is brilliant with its slide show) free PS network, PS home, and the store."
To that guy above I will say to him; Not every will be free for long. PSN will start charging you soon buddy! Or you'll be stuck with a silver like account."
18 Feb 2010 2:15pm
"yes, an updated article would be good man 2006/5/12 too old
[Reply from Robert Giordano]
What updates? The PS3 browser still doesn't work, lol."
23 Feb 2010 7:34pm
"I believe ps3 browser is poor simply because its forefront is mostly Blueray and Gaming! That's it! Disappointed, was hoping for more since i don't have a computer of any kind. Wanted ps3 to be my computer."
27 Feb 2010 11:23am
"There's a Petition to get Opera as a Web browser for PS3 http://www.petitiononline.com/PS3Opera"
12 Mar 2010 5:27am
"Hi, my ps3 browser will not read Hebrew, does somebody know how to fix that?"
14 Mar 2010 4:54am
"When I try to view youtube videos the video starts to play and then stops and the phrase "go update" appears and when you click on 'UPDATE' it takes you to an adobe page that says there is no update available for this console... what is up with that and how do I get to watch youtube on the ps3?"
07 Apr 2010 8:17pm
"My friend got the old ps3 like dunno 2 yrs ago n we watch some animes and some asian movies on the web and i was pretty impressed. Last week just opened my new slim 180g ps3, so happy n den it hit me .. I click "run plugin" and it didnt work. I feel like im being ripped off."
09 Apr 2010 4:36pm
"Really nice info, just what I was looking for. Thanks a lot."
15 Apr 2010 6:09am
"ps3 browser no longer works with youtube. it says it needs a flash update which is impossible unless sony can do it by system update but fuck knows when the next will be. Is youtube trying to shun ps3 users for some reason? youtube xl still works so i cant see why the standard vids won't play, however xl is no good as i cant access subscriptions through it. we need to make a big stink about this peeps."
18 Apr 2010 4:48am
"Howdy, The PS3 browser is not my first choice to surf, but my main computer is down and I'm stuck with this. It's frustrating when I cannot play WAV files (voicemail from MagicJack) or change the pointer from white (hard to see with a white background). I've just updated to PS 3.1 and there was a warning there that if I did upgrade using this version I would not be able to install a different operating system. It may be possible to revert my OS to default and use Linux. Later, Tony"
20 May 2010 11:18am
"I know this is an old article but it's still the top when you so a search for "ps3 jquery" so I thought I'd add: I was overhauling a site to use jquery and all was testing well but I didn't test PS3 early. During dev I was using a local copy of jquery 1.4. When I was nearly done I finally did the PS3 and jquery didn't work at all. I switched the src to Microsoft CDN of jquery 1.3.2.min and refreshed the PS3. All ran great! btw: I stuck to safer .click()s over .bind()s HIH"
20 May 2010 4:36pm
"Hulu isn't working for my CECHK01 PS3. (not that model really matters) but it just states in the video space (Similar to a broken GIF) "Platform not supported." How lame..."
25 Aug 2010 11:40am
"still no major web browser update in 2010, really wish i could use Opera or something :/"
10 Jan 2011 11:27pm
"completely useless and time consuming"
30 Jul 2011 9:09pm
"Sony has made some good hardware (and a few turkeys)... but they have always SUCKED BIG TIME when it comes to anything regarding software. Don't hold your breath for an update because they have already sold you the console, meaning 'they don't care about you anymore because they already have your money'. But no company has put out a decent product that can do everything well, not yet. Wish MS would up the Xbox as well by adding real PC features along with Media Center- that would ROCK!"
08 Sep 2011 5:38am
"I keep seeing comments about trying to get hulu.com on the PS3. Most say they can't and I'm one of those. I have seen where a few have been able to, what's the trick?"
09 Oct 2011 9:38pm
"I tried checking my email and nothing worked. I tried creating new email addresses on various websites and I wasn't able. Trying to use PS3 as alternative to PC is useless."
28 Jan 2012 6:18pm
"the ps4 is needed now. the ps3 is out of date and underpowered. ps3 specs x 8, a real web browser, 500 gig hd,and more apps. plays ps3 games better as in frame rates, loading times, real 1080p, and the future ps4 games. if Microsoft or Nintendo produce the next gen console with the specs and feature i want before Sony does then its goodbye Sony."
11 Feb 2012 8:01am
"Well, At last the PS3 browser got an update. No more NetFront, but WebKit."