Sony PlayStation 3 Super Slim review: Sony shrinks down new PS3 -- except for the price

The PlayStation Store offers TV shows, movies, and more.

The PS3 gives you all kinds of access to movies, TV shows, and games through the PlayStation Store, but also tons more content through services like Netflix, Vudu, Amazon Instant Video, and dozens of other services. At this point, there really isn't any killer app that makes the PS3 a must-buy over the Xbox 360. Of course, the one thing PS3 has that Xbox 360 can't touch is a great built-in Blu-ray player.

Netflix on the PS3.

Home theater do-it-yourselfers have gravitated toward the PS3 due to its versatile playback capabilities, though it still does not play the increasingly popular MKV format. However, PS3 file playback is usually very reliable, whether you're playing a file loaded on a thumbdrive or over your home network using a PC or NAS.

The Super Slim PS3 has the same old cross-media bar (XMB) interface.

Like the most of the PS3 iterations before it, this Super Slim PS3 is not backward-compatible with PS2 games. For that type of functionality, you'll need to search through the PlayStation Store to see if the PS2 game you want to revisit is there, and then of course you'll need to buy it.

The PS Store offers a variety of classic PS2 games for purchase.

In terms of games, the PlayStation 3 plays most of what's out there, save for a few Xbox 360-exclusive games like the Halo, Forza, and Fable franchises, and select downloadable titles. PlayStation 3 has its own share of exclusives -- which now seem to outweigh Xbox's. These franchises include Uncharted, God of War, InFamous, LittleBigPlanet, Killzone, and Resistance, plus future heavy hitters like Beyond, God of War: Ascension, and The Last of Us.

Online gaming is free on PlayStation Network, though users can subscribe to Sony's answer to Xbox Live Gold, called PlayStation Plus. This service offers select games at a discounted price and other incentives.

Full PS3 game downloads are available in the PlayStation Store.

Performance

There doesn't seem to be a noticeable speed increase with the new PS3. What I did notice about the hardware is that since the disc tray is no longer embedded in the console, the laser reader can be heard from time to time. It's by no means a deal breaker, but the disc reading is not as quiet as on the two versions before it.

The console doesn't make much noise beyond the laser reading movements. There doesn't seem to be the excess fan noise that the original PS3 suffered from.

While an in-depth power test will need to be conducted, Sony has told CNET that the Super Slim PS3 consumes 190W, down from 200W on the Slim.

Buying advice

So who exactly is the Super Slim PlayStation 3 for? Well, it's certainly not for someone who already owns any type of PlayStation 3. Sure, the bump in hard-drive space is a plus, but it's by no means a reason to upgrade (especially since upgrading the HDD isn't difficult). The size difference of the chassis-- especially going from the original PS3 to this one -- is breathtaking, but hardly worth the money just to downsize.

This leaves us with two possible purchasing scenarios. Either you have another system and are considering the Super Slim as an entryway into PlayStation 3-land or you don't own any gaming consoles and are weighing your options. If that's the situation you find yourself in, you must consider the future of the PS3 and the possibility of a successor.

Every PS3 standing vertically.

Potential Super Slim PS3 buyers should know that the PlayStation 3 is undoubtedly approaching the end of its system cycle. They must ask themselves if $270-$300 is worth the investment in a platform that might have a successor within as little as a year's time. There's no doubt that the PS3 has an excellent library of games and downloadable items from the PlayStation Network to keep you busy, but assuming the PS3 will not be bested by Sony within the next two years is probably wishful thinking. I'm among the believers who think Sony will even debut or tease something at next year's E3 convention in Los Angeles.

Don't forget, this behavior would not be inconsistent with Sony's past. The company released a slimline PS2 in October 2004 only to follow up with the PS3 two years later.

Another thing to keep in mind is the potential for Sony to remove the bundle and then sell these Super Slim models a la carte. Such a move would most likely bring the price down too. It's just another thing to consider before buying right away.

If this box is any indication, the Super Slim PS3 may soon be for sale without a bundled game.

Conclusion

A part of me considers the Super Slim PS3 a missed opportunity. At a minimum of $270, it's still more expensive than the cheapest Slim PS3 ($250, 160GB). Again, look for Sony to release this Super Slim without a bundle. If Sony is able to offer just the 250GB bare-bones console at $200, it would render the decision-making process that much easier for someone who's between this and an Xbox 360.

It may not be revolutionary, but the Super Slim PS3 is the same impressive machine in a much smaller package. There doesn't seem to be any reason for existing PS3 owners to upgrade, but for the prospective PS3 buyer, the Super Slim is probably the way to go if you can deal with not having a slot-loading disc drive.

If Sony had added simple things like an IR sensor and HD cables out of the box, I'd have a much easier time recommending it as a worthy upgrade for current PS3 owners.

Editors' Top Picks

 

ARTICLE DISCUSSION

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy See All

Sony PlayStation 3 Super Slim (250GB) Uncharted 3 Limited Edition Bundle

Part Number: CECH-4001 Released: Sep. 25, 2012
MSRP: $269.99 Low Price: $300.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Sep. 25, 2012
  • Color charcoal black
  • Media Type Blu-ray
About The Author

Jeff has been at CNET for more than five years covering games, tech, and pop culture. When he's not playing ice hockey or pinball, you can catch him live every day as the host of CNET's infamous daily show, The 404 Show and every Friday in CNET's first-ever tech comic, Low Latency.