While not a must-have upgrade for owners of earlier versions, the new, even slimmer version of the Sony PlayStation 3 retains all of the platform's gaming and media prowess but in a smaller and lighter package. Even though some concerns are raised about the re-designed Blu-ray drive, many say that the PS3 is the best gaming console, at least for the moment.
It's a PS3. Though the aesthetics have been changed and the Blu-ray drive has been redesigned -- for better or worse -- under the hood it's the same PlayStation 3 as its predecessor. The Cell processor at the heart of the system is unchanged, and that's a good thing as it provides plenty of gaming get-up-and-go. Video is output in full 1080p high resolution and 3D gaming is supported. The PlayStation Move Motion controller and PlayStation Eye tracking camera are, of course, supported as well, and those together provide useful and usable Wii-like motion control for compatible games. There is a robust online gaming community, and one clear advantage that the PlayStation has over the competing Microsoft Xbox 360 (*est. $200 to $400) when it comes to online gaming is that it does not require an extra-cost subscription.
As for the gaming lineup, the core library is as diverse as any gaming console. There are games that the PlayStation 3 can't play because those are exclusive to a different platform, but by the same token there are games you can't play on any other device but the PS3. If there are games you feel are must haves, check compatibilities and let that guide your decision between the PS3 and its top competitors -- the Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii (*Est. $130) and the new Nintendo Wii U (*Est. $300 and up).
Concerns over the Blu-ray drive. Other than the smaller size, the biggest concern we've seen voiced is over the durability and the usability of the new Blu-ray drive. Gone is the old slot loading mechanism in favor of a top-loading mechanism with a sliding door. Most who test the 2012 edition of the Sony PlayStation 3 say that the new drive seems flimsy compared to the old. In addition, since it now sits at the top of the unit, it's easy to hear the mechanical sounds of the drive in action. Those noises don't mean anything is out of the ordinary, but they can be disconcerting -- especially in a quiet room made more so by the new PS3's relatively silent operation otherwise.
The sliding door mechanism also presents some usability challenges. Since the door slides to one side to access discs, those who like to house their PS3 in a standard AV cabinet can find access to be awkward and clearances to be tight. It also makes things a bit clumsier for those who like to stand their PS3s vertically -- something commonly done with earlier versions but that several experts say is not the best idea with the new PS3 as its reduced width (height) makes it a bit unstable when oriented that way.
As far as Blu-ray performance, that aspect is
not extensively addressed in reviews we saw of the latest PS3. The previous PS3
was well regarded in that respect, however. It's no longer the fastest Blu-ray
player you can buy, but it's not a slow-poke either, and it has a rock-solid
reputation as being less prone to lock ups and incompatibilities than some
other options. It's a 3D-capable player as well, and has on-board decoders for
high-resolution Dolby and DTS audio formats found on Blu-ray Discs. See our
The PlayStation 3 is also a fairly capable media hub for streaming. You won't find the breadth of content providers found in some TV makers' smart sets, but the majors are there -- including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant and Vudu. Sony also has its own store from which you can rent or buy movies and TV shows. Football fans might be tempted by the inclusion of NFL Direct Ticket, the all-encompassing live NFL game package heretofore only available on DirecTV. For baseball fans, MLB.TV brings in out of market games. There's built-in Wi-Fi, and the PS3 is DLNA compliant for streaming your own content from your computer.
Smaller, lighter, cheaper. The smaller footprint of the new PS3 has drawn its fair share of compliments, but has also left a few reviewers cold. Sony claims that it is 20 percent smaller than the previous PlayStation 3 Slim, and 25 percent lighter; it measures 11.4 by 2.36 by 9.05 inches, and weighs in at just around 4.5 pounds.
Most like the somewhat elliptical profile of the new console -- though even that draws a few yawns or worse from some quarters. However, we spotted lots of comments that the glossy plastic will easily draw fingerprints and that the whole console simply has a "cheaper" look than the matte black last-generation PS3.
It should have been cheaper. The new Sony PS3 holds or just slightly increases the cost compared to the previous version, while packing in a much larger hard drive (250 GB versus 160 GB in the base version) and throwing in a game and a download credit. While that makes it a better value compared to its predecessor, most critics still carp that what Sony should have done is reduce the price of the PS3 instead considering where it is in its life cycle. Be that as it may, it's still a very competitive price for a high-end gaming console and high-end Blu-ray player rolled into one package. Most reviewers see no reason for those who own a working PS3 of any vintage to invest in the upgrade to a new PS3, but add for those new to the PlayStation 3 platform or console gaming, the PS3 continues to make sense.
Review Credibility: Excellent The Sony PlayStation 3 earns an Excellent rating in its latest (2012) incarnation. Jeff Bakalar finds a few shortfalls: The disc tray mechanism is called odd, and the glossy plastic gives the console a "cheap" look -- which unfortunately doesn't translate into a cheaper price. Still, it retains all of the positives of its well-regarded predecessor.
Review: Sony Shrinks Down New PS3 -- Except for the Price, Jeff Bakalar, Sept. 19, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent PCMag.com also likes the 2012 revamp of the Sony PlayStation 3 -- so much so that it graces the console with its Editors' Choice award. The smaller size and larger-capacity hard drive for essentially the same cost as the previous versions are liked; the flimsier-seeming build quality is not.
Review: Sony PlayStation 3 (2012), Will Greenwald, Nov. 8, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent Engadget.com strikes a very different pose than CNET or PCMag.com when it comes to the 2012 redesign of the Sony PlayStation 3. Build quality and the side-sliding Blu-ray drive mechanism -- which makes the PS3 a difficult fit for a traditional home-entertainment console -- are very much panned. Ben Gilbert acknowledges the increased drive size, but doesn't feel that it adds enough value to offset the negatives he finds.
Review: PlayStation 3 Slim Review (Late 2012): Is the Third Time a Charm?, Ben Gilbert, Oct. 8, 2012
4. Time magazine
Review Credibility: Excellent Time's Matt Peckman seems to be of two minds when it comes to the slimmed down Sony PlayStation 3 released in 2012. He finds lots to like -- including its new, smaller design and the fact that it retains all of the positives of the previous model. On the downside, he joins the chorus that doesn't particularly like how the new Blu-ray drive works, and he adds that it's also a bit noisier than before. He notes that while Sony is saying that the new PS3 is a better value with its bigger hard drive and included game (which varies by bundle), gamers might have been more impressed with a lower price.
Review: Sony's Super-Slim PlayStation 3: One Step Forward, One Step Back, Matt Peckham, Oct. 1, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent TechRadar.com reviews a version of the Sony PlayStation 3 that's sold in the U.K. While some technical details differ, and while the site spends a bit of time discussing a version with a 12 GB solid-state drive that's not being offered as of yet in the U.S., core performance and overall design are the same. The site gives the PS3 its Recommended award, and says that it remains a slightly better gaming and media option over the Microsoft Xbox 360. However, it is only really a worthwhile upgrade for those who don't already own a working earlier-generation PS3.
Review: Sony PS3 Review, James Rivington, Sept. 28, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Though this review at Britain's T3.com is a little on the brief side, it's based on a hands-on evaluation. Like many, Michael Sawh is concerned about the Blu-ray drive and the overall build quality. He finds no reason for owners of the last version of the PlayStation 3 to upgrade to this current one.
Review: Sony PS3 Super Slim Review, Michael Sawh, Oct. 15, 2012
Review Credibility: Good Reviews of the PlayStation 3, including different hard drive sizes and different bundles, can be seen from this page. The latest version has been slow to gather feedback, but what's here is generally positive as reflected in the 4.1-star rating. Of the few who express dissatisfaction, most do so over the poorer build quality compared to earlier versions.
Review: PlayStation 3, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2012