updated 08:44 am EDT, Sat October 6, 2012
How does the PS3 stack up 6 six years down the road?
Sony's venerable PS3 has now been on the market nearly six years. During that time, it has found a home in upwards of 70 million homes around the globe forming an integral component in the contemporary home entertainment experience. It has now undergone its fourth iteration, with Sony downsizing the console for the second time since its launch in late 2006. So how does the new PS3 'super slim' version stack up?
Electronista has its hands on is the new 12GB Flash-based model that is, sadly, not slated for the U.S. market. Instead, the U.S. market gets the 250GB and 500GB models, currently available in value-added bundles from $270. Why do we say 'sadly'? Like all previous PlayStation models, the new PS3 'super slim' offers the ability to easily slot in a naked 2.5-inch hard disk drive. This gives users the possibility for picking up an entry-level model, and save some dollars upfront, while giving the user the option to install any type of drive and capacity of their choosing - we quickly upgraded ours with a 160GB drive from the previous generation PS3 that we had in reserve, after previously upgrading our older model to a 500GB hard drive.
As the photos below highlight, the new 'super slim' PS3 has a very small footprint relative to the controller, yet it loses none of the potency of the original. It remains both a powerful gaming console and a highly-flexible enterntainment hub. As others have noted, Sony has not reduced the size of the console through die-shrinking the 3.2GHz PowerPC-based Cell processor (which continues on a 45nm die), but rather through clever internal design changes as well as dropping the slot-loading drive for a cheaper, but less bulkly manual top-loading solution.
This point is where the new PS3 changes diverges the most from the models before it. While access to the optical drive bay is quite straight forward, the sliding mechanism does not inspire confidence in its build-quality. It is functional, but younger children may not well-suited to using it as there is a hint that rough treatment could result in damage to the mechanism. If the tray is also left open, it could also result in dust getting into the bay and interfering with its Blu-ray optics. We would have preferred that Sony retained the slot-loading drive, as the new drive is also noisier.
That minor niggle aside, it is plain that Sony has decided to look back to the original PlayStation 3 as the design inspiration for the new model. It has even brought back some of the glossy, scratch-prone, black plastic from that model. Overall, though, it certainly looks a lot nicer than the PS3 'Slim,' which has a comparatively dull, all-matte finish and generally uninspiring appearance. Users looking to pick up a second PS3 for the 'man-cave' will certainly enjoy its reduced size and weight, while it is small enough that a partner or spouse may not even notice it!
Everything else about the console functions as it has before. Users can still enjoy media streaming, storing photos, viewing downloaded rentals or watching Blu-ray discs and playing games in up to 1080p. Adding peripherals like PlayTV (where available), the Move controller or a 3D display make it an incredibly well-rounded package. One surprising oversight, however, is Sony's failure to upgrade the Wi-Fi capabilities of the PS3 to 802.11n; instead it persists with the older 802.11b/g standards. However, online gaming does not suffer for it, while Sony also continues to offer online gaming free of charge, helping to take some of the pain out of this omission.
Its interoperability with the PSP and the PS Vita are an added bonus. The PS Vita, in particular, supports cross-console gameplay with PS3 users and as well as the ability to play supported games on the PS3 and then continue the PS Vita version of the game on the PS Vita when mobile. Users can also use the PS3 to stream content to their PSP or PS Vita. Certain games, including original PSOne classics, can also be played on any of the devices after downloading and installing it on just one of the devices, before transferring it if desired.
If you don't already own a Sony PS3, the new PS3 'super slim' is easily the most well-rounded gaming console on the market. Sony is smart to haven given it a revamp ahead of the holiday season, freshening it up ahead of the anticipated launch of the yet to be announced PlayStation 4. Sony reports that sales of the PS3 have spiked since the introduction of the latest model. If you already own a PS3, there are no hardware upgrades to speak of on the PS3 'super slim', other than capacity bumps: there is certainly no need to 'upgrade' to it. However, if you are looking for a second gaming console, you could certainly do worse. If it came down to owning one gaming console, we would certainly opt for the PS3 every time. It might be six-years old, but it is still an entertainment powerhouse.
Addendum: We have included some photos of how to upgrade the hard drive of the new PS3 'super slim.' When placed in an upright position, the top cover slides off when pushed away from you. This exposes a drive bay where users can install any 2.5-inch SATA hard drive, although our 12GB model does not include a drive support tray. However, this did not preclude the quick and easy installation of a FAT32 formatted hard drive.