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Is a slimmer PS3 in the works?

Rumors are percolating that Sony is prepping a slimmer PS3 and that the company might just trot out some info about it at E3 in June.

This alleged spy shot of a PS3 Slim box may very well turn out to be a fake--or not. Kotaku

Back in 2004, after the PS2 was on the market for four years, Sony went ahead and shrank its design down and brought out a new model dubbed the "slim" PS2. It was a great move and Sony initially couldn't keep up with demand for the system.

Now, five years later, rumors have been percolating that Sony might be preparing to trim the PS3, with an outside chance that the company might have something to say about a new design at E3. While early reports we read seemed pretty dubious, a set of alleged spy photos of a PS3 Slim (with a new PS3 logo) surfaced on Chinese Message boards late Wednesday and seemed slightly more promising.

The original report stems from a PlayStation LifeStyle post declaring, "Redesigned PS3 to be revealed at E3." That's a rather bold headline, but the story deflates it rather quickly with a disclaimer that, "Of course, this is just yet another rumor..." However, the site claims to have "caught word" that Sony will not only take the wraps off the new PSP Go at E3, but unveil "another hardware redesign."

"We didn't get any specifics, but we speculate that it could be one of a couple different options," the post goes on to say. "First off, it very well could be as simple as a white or a silver PS3 to go with the white and silver DualShock 3s that have been made available." The writer also admits that the hardware in question might refer to Sony's rumored Wii-like motion-sensing controller, which may also be announced at E3.

T3's rendition of a slim PS3

I4U News picked up on the story and then Engadget took a whack at the rumors with a bit of its own speculation, suggesting that a trimmer PS3 would be in line with Sony's alleged move to a smaller Cell processor and RSX chip in August.

For the record, it should be pointed out that this whole slim PS3 rumor is actually rather ancient, with T3 and Engadget asking whether the PS3 was on the verge of a slim down over a year ago, in February 2008. In fact, the image to the right is from that original post.

Anyway, that's the anatomy of this latest rumor and you can choose to buy into it or not. On the one hand, Sony could use E3 to radically alter its gaming fortunes with a couple of bold new designs for its hardware systems. Or, it could just announce the new PSP and superficial changes to the PS3 that are designed to trim costs so Sony can finally break even on the system instead of losing money on each one.

All that said, at the end of the day, the most important thing Sony can do now is sell the PS3 for $299. If it can get there by slimming the thing down, and hopefully not stripping out any features, that's great. But I think people would be just as happy if Sony found a way to get to $299 with the current design.

Anybody buying this rumor? Will Sony come out with a totally new PS3? Would a slimmer version entice any XBox 360 owners to switch allegiances?

Note: As for Sony's response to the rumors, it says, "We currently don't have any plans for a redesigned PS3."