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Sony PlayStation 3 Slim (160 GB)

*Est. $250
Reviewed
November 2012
by ConsumerSearch
 Sony PlayStation 3 Slim (160 GB)

Pros
  • Excellent Blu-ray Disc player
  • Wi-Fi
  • Good graphics
Cons
  • Not the latest version
  • No backward compatibility for PS2 games
  • No more Linux support

Bottom line

Although Sony revamped the PlayStation 3 Slim in late 2012, the older PS3 Slim remains available. The base 160 GB version is the least expensive PS3 you can buy, but not necessarily the best value.

Gaming performance

Blazing fast, pretty as a picture. Powered by a sophisticated and advanced Cell processor, the PS3 has the horsepower to handle even the most complex games. Boot up is fast as well, just about 20 seconds, CNET says. Games are output in high definition, and there's support for 3D gaming. Most experts agree that the graphics look excellent and realistic.

The PS3 also has a large game library, and there are many exclusive titles. The Xbox 360 used to handily beat the PS3 when it came to exclusive games, but reviewers say that's no longer the case. Aside from a handful of Xbox 360 exclusives -- and those are balanced out by a handful of PS3 exclusives -- most games will play on either platform. Still, if there's a must-have game on your list, double check which platforms it is compatible with to avoid disappointment. Online gaming is also improved to the point where it's no longer cited as a negative by most reviewers, and the PlayStation Network boasts the advantage of offering multi-player gaming without a charge (Microsoft Xbox LIVE subscriptions, required for online gaming, start at $5 per month).

Taking a page from the success of the Nintendo Wii, Sony has introduced the Move Motion Controller, which gets rave reviews for accuracy and realistic motion. To really take advantage of all Move has to offer, you'll also have to want the PlayStation Eye, a camera that tracks the Motion Controller for more precise movements. Both are available individually, but the best deal is the PlayStation Move Essentials bundle.

Media performance

Blu-ray drive, lots of streaming content. The PlayStation 3 has an integrated Blu-ray player that reviewers say compares favorably to many stand-alone players. Once the fastest Blu-ray player on the planet, it's been caught and passed in that regard by some stand-alone options -- thought it's still not terrible in that regard. Reviewers say Blu-ray movies played back on a PS3 look great on an HDTV. Additionally, although budget Blu-ray players are now appearing for less than $100, and sometimes less than $50, the player included in the PS3 is advanced, including on-board support for all high-definition audio formats, all Blu-ray player profiles and for 3D Blu-ray Discs. See the ConsumerSearch report on Blu-ray players for more information on the PS3's capabilities in this area.

The PlayStation 3 can also act as a set-top box for streaming video, music and more. You can rent or buy TV shows or movies from the PlayStation Store or stream them from providers such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu and Amazon Instant. Sports fans can also stream live games via MLB.TV or NFL Sunday Ticket, which was formerly only available via DirecTV. Finally, the PS3 is DLNA compliant, meaning it can stream video, audio and more from a computer running the appropriate software.

Aesthetics

Quiet(er) and attractive. Reviewers say the Sony PlayStation 3 Slim packs a ton of features into a slim, matte-finish design, including HDMI output, built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and two USB ports.

The PS3 Slim is quieter and more efficient than its predecessors, although some owners report loud fan noise after several hours of use, and the slimmer version of the PS3 that was introduced in late 2012 is quieter still. Most reviewers like the design -- especially compared to previous iterations of the PS3 that were fat and bulky -- but many say the Xbox 360 Slim is more appealing with its glossy black exterior.

Value

Newest PlayStation 3 is a better value. The 160 GB version of the Sony PlayStation 3 is the least expensive PlayStation 3 console available. However, the newly released PlayStation 3 (2012) offers a hard drive that's roughly half again as large (250 GB in its base version) and is typically bundled with a popular game, albeit an older one such as Uncharted 3, but costs only $20 more. The 320 GB old Slim is even a more questionable deal, as bundles with the new 500 GB PlayStation 3 cost the same. Still, with its great gaming chops, streaming media capabilities and integrated and strong-performing Blu-ray player, reviewers say Sony's PlayStation 3 Slim, old or new, offers the most for your money among all of the current gaming consoles.

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Our Sources

1. CNET

Review Credibility: Excellent David Carnoy at CNET gives the PlayStation 3 Slim an excellent overall rating. In this test-based review, the console gets high marks for its numerous features, slimmer design and excellent Blu-ray player. The latest update of this review notes the hard drive capacities, adding that they are the most notable difference between versions of the PS3 Slim.

Review: Sony PlayStation 3 Slim Review (160GB), David Carnoy, Aug. 18, 2009

2. PCMag.com

Review Credibility: Excellent Thanks to a lower price and larger hard drive, Zach Honig at PCMag.com says the PlayStation 3 is "more desirable than ever." The Blu-ray player and compact design are high points, and Honig calls it an "incredible gaming device." In a separate review, the Sony Move controller receives an excellent rating and earns an Honorable Mention in PCMag.com's Best of the Year 2010 awards.

Review: Sony PlayStation 3 120GB (PS3 Slim), Zach Honig, Nov. 22, 2011

3. PC World

Review Credibility: Excellent The PlayStation 3 Slim scores a superior rating from Matt Peckham at PC World. The console is quieter overall, although Peckham notes that loading and unloading discs is noisier than on previous generations. Overall, he says the PS3 Slim is "arguably the one to beat."

Review: Sony PlayStation 3 (120GB), Matt Peckham, Dec. 19, 2009

4. TrustedReviews.com

Review Credibility: Very Good Stuart Andrews at Britain's TrustedReviews.com takes a detailed look at the PS3 Slim. He says the user interface is superior to that of the Xbox 360, although he prefers the Xbox 360's controller. Overall, he gives the PS3 Slim a rating of 8 out of 10, calling it a "great choice for the mainstream user."

Review: Sony PlayStation 3 Slim 120GB Review, Stuart Andrews, Sept. 30, 2009

5. Audio/Video Revolution

Review Credibility: Very Good In this detailed review, Thomas Spurlin at Audio/Video Revolution looks at the multimedia performance of the PS3 Slim, although he also discusses gaming. Spurlin says he thinks the Blu-ray player is fantastic, but he's less impressed by the DVD output, calling it a "mediocre" upscaling player.

Review: Sony 120 GB PlayStation 3 Slim Review, Thomas Spurlin, Sept. 9, 2009

6. Wired

Review Credibility: Very Good Bryan Gardiner at Wired says the PlayStation 3 Slim "runs circles around" the Xbox 360 Elite when it comes to hardware, but it still lags behind the Xbox when it comes to its game collection. Still, he recognizes the PS3 as a great value.

Review: PlayStation 3 Slim Shaves Off Price, Not Performance, Bryan Gardiner, Sept. 8, 2009

7. TechRadar.com

Review Credibility: Very Good James Rivington of TechRadar.com, a U.K.-based site, says he thinks the Sony PS3 Slim is the start of a "new age for Sony's gaming arm." The console gets high marks for powerful game performance and excellent video quality. However, he says the plastic looks cheap and notes that the CD player has more "audio jitter" than previous models.

Review: Sony PS3 Review, James Rivington, June 8, 2010

8. Engadget.com

Review Credibility: Very Good This is another report that focuses on the PlayStation 3's performance as a Blu-ray player. Ross Miller at Engadget.com notes that Blu-ray Discs load a little slower on the PS3 Slim than previous generations, but he thinks the console is a great value overall.

Review: PlayStation 3 Slim Review, Ross Miller, Aug. 27, 2009

9. T3.com

Review Credibility: Very Good This update of an earlier review addresses firmware upgrades, such as 3D support for Blu-ray and gaming. Jim Hill says that it took an "already fantastic console" and "made it even better." The PlayStation 3 Slim gets a perfect 5-star rating from Britain's T3.com.

Review: Sony PS3 Slim Review: 3D and Blu-ray Update, Jim Hill, Sept. 8, 2011

10. Amazon.com

Review Credibility: Very Good More than 660 user-written reviews team up to give the PlayStation 3 Slim an overall 4.3-star rating at Amazon.com. Most say the PS3 Slim is excellent for games and movies alike.

Review: PlayStation 3 160GB System, Contributors to Amazon.com

11. BestBuy.com

Review Credibility: Very Good Around 150 reviewers at BestBuy.com give the PS3 Slim an overall rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars. More than 90 percent say they would recommend the console to a friend. Users report excellent game play, and they like having a Blu-ray player as well.

Review: Sony - PlayStation 3 (160GB), Contributors to BestBuy.com

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