But at the same time the PS3 DOES have hardware issues. While I was up north I got to play with my brother in laws on his mega home theater and I had some issues with the system. I had the system freeze up on me for no apparent reason, and also I was playing Lego Star Wars the Complete Saga, when the characters loaded into Cantina they were seriously screwed up.
Isolated incidents do not equal "hardware issues" with the PS3. The 360 is notorious for the RRoD. There is no parallel to that with the PS3. It is quality hardware from top to bottom. Do any of them break? I'm sure they do and I'm sure your experience was frustrating but it definitely is in the minority.
As for the Playstation network, I was trying to find Lego Star Wars games to join and it lists the ping to each game. I could never join a single game due to pings being 400+.
Granted you have to don't have to pay to play online with Xbox Live, but that 50 bucks a year is well worth it when you look at Sony's Free version. And I won't even get started on how much of a pain in the ass it is to navigate the PS3's menu system, or it's Online Marketplace.
I believe your online issues with the PS3 are, once again, either isolated or game, not system, related. I play COD4 multiplayer all the time with zero issues. Pings are consistently sub-100 and disconnects are rare. As for the market place, it WAS horrible but has since been overhauled and vastly improved. No complaints there.
as a gaming machine Blu-Ray is severly holding the machine back with mandatory installs for games and some movies.
On the contrary, Blu-ray has put the console into the hands of folks who might not have normally bought a console. I can count the number of mandatory games installs on one hand. Besides, that's a developer option (since all units have HDDs) and not a requirement. As for movies with mandatory installs, I've yet to encounter a single one and I own approximately 40 movies and have rented many others.