PS3 Slim: Everything you need to know

The PS3 Slim has just a few differences from its larger predecessor.

John Falcone Senior Editorial Director, Shopping
John P. Falcone is the senior director of commerce content at CNET, where he coordinates coverage of the site's buying recommendations alongside the CNET Advice team (where he previously headed the consumer electronics reviews section). He's been a CNET editor since 2003.
Expertise Over 20 years experience in electronics and gadget reviews and analysis, and consumer shopping advice Credentials
  • Self-taught tinkerer, informal IT and gadget consultant to friends and family (with several self-built gaming PCs under his belt)
John Falcone
3 min read

Watch this: Sony PlayStation 3 Slim

The PS3 Slim is now a reality. The compact console will be available on September 1 for $299. Our review sample just arrived, and our hands-on evaluation will follow soon. We don't expect any real performance departures from the current console--the changes are more cosmetic than anything else. In the meantime, we've got Brian Tong's hands-on video on the PS3 Slim (above), along with a quick mini-FAQ on the new PS3 (below). If you have a question that's not addressed here, put it in the comments, and we'll do our best to find an answer.

When can I get the new PS3 Slim?
It'll be widely available as of September 1 for $299.

What are the major physical differences between the new PS3 Slim and the previous versions of the PS3?
Sony has pretty much crammed the same hardware into a smaller form factor. The new chassis is thinner vertically and horizontally, but it is deeper than the previous PS3--it's almost a square. The front power and eject buttons are now actual, depressable keys (not touch-sensitive), and there's also no standby power switch on the console's rear panel.

Are there any notable feature differences?
The new model has a 120GB hard drive, up from the 80GB model on the previous entry-level model. Geeks will lament that Sony has removed the ability to install a second operating system, but that won't be missed by the vast majority of mainstream users.

Does it play PS2 games?
No dice. Like the recent PS3 models, the PS3 Slim does not offer backward compatibility with PS2 game discs. However, it can play older PS1 titles (on disc or via download from the PlayStation Store.)

Are there flash card readers?Again, no. Ports for Compact Flash, Memory Stick, and SD cards existed on the earliest PS3 models, but they were dropped on more recent iterations. If you want to access digital media files, you'll need to put them on a USB drive, burn them to a disc, or access them over the network.

Any change to media support?
No differences that we can discern. The PS3 Slim still plays all manner of Blu-ray movies, DVDs, and CDs, and it doubles as an excellent media streamer from other PCs or DLNA-capable media servers.

What's in the box?
Just the basics: the console, a single Dual Shock 3 controller, USB cable (for charging the controller), AC power cord, and composite AV cable. There are no bundled games in this version of the PS3.

PlayStation 3 Slim unboxing -- photos

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Did Sony finally add an IR port, so I can use my universal remote control?
In a word: nope. That's our biggest gripe with the new model. Owners of Logitech Harmony remotes, however, can still use the $60 adapter that will translate IR commands to Bluetooth.

Is the hard drive still user-upgradeable?
Yes--you can still do a DIY upgrade with a standard 2.5-inch laptop hard drive. We'll update our How-To video to give you a step-by-step guide for the PS3 Slim soon.

Can I stand the PS3 Slim vertically?
Out of the box, the answer is no. Ironically, it's so skinny, it'll tip over too easily. However, Sony is pledging to sell a stand separately--in other words, you'll be paying $24 for a hunk of plastic.

Is it really cheap-looking?
Opinions in the office are divided on this one. Some folks are really chafing at the textured matte finish, saying it makes the unit look cheap and plasticky--like a toy. Others (like me) prefer that to the shiny piano black finish of earlier PS3s, which was a magnet for fingerprints. Editor Jeff Bakalar, meanwhile, likens the square-ish design of the Slim to that of a record player.

PlayStation 3 Slim -- photos

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Is it true that a 250GB PS3 Slim is coming soon?
Apparently so. Sony's made no official comment, but a more capacious PS3 Slim will certainly hit store shelves at some point--likely at the $399 price point.

Should I wait for the Slim, or buy one of the existing "PS3 Fat" consoles, now that they've also been cut to $299?
Unless you're particularly averse to the new design, it's definitely worth waiting a couple of weeks.

Got any other questions? Ready to make the jump to the PS3? Or is the Slim a letdown? Let us know in the comments below.

Additional coverage:
>> Sony officially announces $299 PS3 Slim
>> PlayStation 3 firmware 3.00 details
>> Photo: PS3 "Fat" vs. PS3 Slim
>> 12 ways to make the PS3 perfect (May 13, 2008)