The Sony PlayStation 3 Slim remains a top choice for anyone looking for a high-performance Blu-ray Disc player -- and a complete no-brainer for someone who is also interested in the PS3 as a high-end gaming console. The extra features and impressive audio seal the deal.
Movies look great -- if you're not watching DVDs, that is. Although the drive mechanism is a bit noisy, the PS3's Blu-ray picture looks just as good as any you'd find in a top-notch stand-alone player. Praise is harder to come by when it comes to DVD playback, though most say that it's at least acceptable for noncritical viewing.
Good, but not great performance. The PlayStation 3 used to be the leader in disc load times, but newer stand-alone players have stolen the crown. The PS3 still is no slouch, however, and navigating its menu screens is far more seamless than trying to move around the menus of Blu-ray players with more limited processors.
It works, but you might want to buy a dedicated video remote control. Sony's XMB app interface isn't the most intuitive around, but reviewers say it works well enough. Firmware updates aren't too frequent to become the nuisance they are with other players, but have been used to good advantage in keeping the PlayStation 3 up to date in terms of features (adding 3D compatibility, for example).
The biggest hurdle to usability is the PS3 controller itself, which is made with gaming -- not Blu-ray menu browsing -- in mind. Unfortunately, because it uses Bluetooth rather than the more common RF, the PS3 doesn't play well with most universal remote controls, though some workarounds from other companies are available. Most people likely will find an optional AV remote (*Est. $20) to be a worthwhile investment.
Solid features and streaming apps. The PlayStation 3 may not have the sheer number of streaming apps that can be found with some stand-alone players, but what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quantity, with Netflix, Hulu Plus, MLB.TV, Amazon Instant, Vudu, CinemaNow and NHL Gamecenter apps all onboard. The PS3 also has one shining app integration exclusive: DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket, though a subscription to the all-you-can-eat NFL streaming will set you back several hundred dollars each season. Robust DLNA streaming capabilities are also on board.
The basic console includes a 160 GB hard drive for storing movies, music, photos and other files. A step-up version boosts that to a 320 GB hard drive (*Est. $400) but is otherwise identical, with Wi-Fi and 3D Blu-ray support available on both. The sizeable hard drives are perfect for BD-Live content, while the game console also boasts a wide complement of audio codecs.
Are you a gamer? The Sony PlayStation 3 used to be a much greater value in the days when full-featured, reliable Blu-ray players cost several hundred dollars. Now that Blu-ray players are becoming a more mature market, the console's blend of gaming, streaming and Blu-ray disc playing still make it a solid value, but not as much of a steal as it used to be.
If you're into gaming at all or are a cable cord cutter who needs a way to get your NFL fill, the Sony PlayStation 3 is an excellent choice for a Blu-ray player. But if you're the type of person who doesn't know a Nintendo Wii from a Xbox 360, you'd be perfectly happy with a Blu-ray player like the Best Reviewed LG BP620 (*Est. $120), which offers great Blu-ray imagery, faster load times and just as many Internet apps for half the price.
1. AudioVideo Revolution
This is the most detailed report we've seen on how the Sony PlayStation 3 Slim performs as a Blu-ray Disc and DVD player. Reams of information are presented on how the PS3 Slim measures up on its own and as compared with the regular PS3. Performance is dinged for being seconds slower than its predecessor, and the disc-loading mechanism is criticized for issuing sounds during startup that are a little disconcerting and annoying. Picture quality with Blu-ray is terrific, but DVD playback is found wanting. Some details, such as the size of the internal hard drive, have changed since the review was published, however.
Review: Sony 120 GB PlayStation 3 Slim Review, Thomas Spurlin, Sept. 9, 2009
PCMag.com's review of the Sony PlayStation 3 Slim is more of an overview of the system, focusing on its design and gameplay performance rather than its Blu-ray playing credentials. Zach Honig notes that PCMag.com considers the PS3 to be one of the best Blu-ray players available, but expresses disappointment that the Blu-ray remote is optional, not standard. The console wins an Editors' Choice award.
Review: Sony PlayStation 3 120GB (PS3 Slim), Zach Honig, Nov. 22, 2011
This brief report is most useful for those who want to know how the Sony PlayStation 3 Slim stacks up as a Blu-ray player. Good and bad points are summarized, and conclusions are testing based. Blu-ray performance is praised, and DVD performance is found good enough for all but the pickiest of viewers. The review calls the speed good enough, though newer Blu-ray Disc players are faster -- and ones released since the review was written are faster still. Even so, CNET maintains the PS3 at the top of its list of current top Blu-ray players.
Review: Hands-On: PS3 Slim as a Blu-ray Player, Matthew Moskovciak, Sept. 15, 2009
More than 600 owners report on the Sony PlayStation 3 Slim. The majority give it 5 stars, helping the console achieve an overall rating of 4.4 stars. Negative comments include a handful of complaints about issues related to firmware updates. There's also a little "fanboyism" between those who praise and pan the PS3 Slim, which is not unusual for user reviews of video game consoles.
Review: PlayStation 3, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Sept. 2012
This article examines the Sony PlayStation 3 Slim and compares it with the previous version. Playback quality is not addressed, but other details, such as energy consumption and operational speed are tested.
Review: PlayStation 3 Slim Review, Ross Miller, Aug. 27, 2009
The Sony PlayStation 3 Slim lands in the third spot in About.com's roundup of the best Blu-ray players. Robert Silva's commentary is fairly light, however, and the review he points to seems to be more of a reworked press release rather than a proper review. However, Silva does note that "The Playstation 3 Slim will give you your money's worth, even if you never play a video game."
Review: The Best Blu-ray Players, Robert Silva, Not Dated