So Why Is Sony Making A 16GB PS3?

The new PS3, a smaller, slide-loading (or top-loading) machine with the model number CECH-4000 is expected to be properly introduced at gamescom in August, following leaks over the last couple of weeks that first showed the console’s label on the FCC website and then photos emerged of the actual casing.

The latter leak is perhaps the most interesting, as an accompanying letter from SCE detailed the various hard drive sizes that would be included in the available options. CECH-4011B would come with a 250GB drive, CECH-4011C with a whopping 500GB drive and – surprise! – a CECH-4011A will arrive with a 16GB drive.

Except we’re, along with others, assuming that that 16GB isn’t a hard drive but a flash drive. You might have heard of this as solid state.

Let’s assume that none of the above is fake, and it’s all real, genuine and leaked unintentionally. That’s probably a realistic assumption, but it’s worth getting that down and out of the way. If anything turns out to be false, then the rest of this article won’t really make much sense, especially that bit about the flash drive.

[drop]Where does that particular reasoning come from? Firmware 4.20, mostly. When it was released it was found that a couple of small changes to text had been made, and discovered in the following days.

“Eject Disc” to “Remove Disc” – hence the top loading rumours, and “System Storage” is now in the XMB instead of “Hard Disk”.

Because of this, it’s not a huge leap to assume that the PS3 will soon be able to accept an SSD (solid state drive) or, at the very least, come with one as standard. That 16GB CECH-4011A then, is highly likely to offer this new technology.

Now, 16GB isn’t a lot. It’s four times that on the 4GB super-cheap Xbox 360 but PS3 games tend to come with massive installs (Gran Turismo 5’s alone will soak up more than half of the available space) so that actual number is somewhat redundant at this limited size. It’s infinitely larger than my first Amiga hard drive (which was 20MB) but will fill up much, much faster.

So it’s presumably also safe to assume two more things. One, this isn’t a machine aimed at gamers out of the box; and two, you’ll be able to plug in a separate hard drive that will take the place of the SSD, or act in conjunction with it alongside a firmware update to allow games to save to either device.

The two points go hand in hand – and the prospect of additional down-the-line hardware in the shape of nicely presented (and, we’re guessing, expensive) hard drives will go some way to satisfy the likes of GAME who will be selling this 16GB PlayStation 3 at a bargain bucket rate on the high street and looking for bundle deals. This thing will be cheap, it has to be – it has to match up with the 4GB Xbox 360, or better it – solus.

But there’s another market to consider. A market that’s looking for a device that plays Blu-rays, connects to LoveFILM, Netflix and iPlayer. A market that won’t ever sit and watch Polyphony’s progress bar lie its way through the world’s most tedious sixty minute install. A market that just wants to watch, and listen, not play.

Microsoft are big on this market – we’ve discussed at length how the Xbox 360 is actively trying to push games aside and Microsoft themselves have published figures that suggest people spend more time on their console streaming media than playing games. Console buyers are no longer buying consoles just to play games, those days are long gone and aren’t ever likely to return.

[drop2]And Sony are also now fighting against Smart TVs. My Samsung bought last year for 3D (yeah) offers pretty much everything the PS3 does in terms of media (including YouTube and various movie streaming services) out of the box, without any additional hardware. It might not do them as slickly as a PS3 would, but it’s included in the price of the unit.

Sony will want to get the message across that this cheap PS3 offers connectivity like nothing else in a box that’ll sit under your TV and work with a TV-like remote control, not just a game console controller. Bundle in the PlayTV remote, heck, bundle in PlayTV, and market this to an emerging market that won’t care about next-generation graphics. They won’t even know there’s a new generation of devices just around the corner.

Of course, there’s more Sony could do.

A new patent discovered on GAF suggests that Sony are thinking outside of the box – literally. It details a TV in a HDMI home network that offers up a common user interface – like the XMB. It’ll change depending on the components used, and will use HDMI to control other devices connected up. Like your PS3.

Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) isn’t new, but it’ll be new for consoles. If Sony are planning to offer this as part of these new models then it further shows that they’re wanting to push the media abilities of the PlayStation 3 well beyond the reach of just gamers – controlling a Blu-ray player like the PS3 (with all the PS3’s XMB overlaid onto the display) with your TV remote could be fantastic.

The reasons for a 16GB PS3 are obvious – then. It has massive potential as a media streaming box (and we’re not even talking about Gaikai here) and the PS3’s Blu-ray capabilities are (for me at least) still unmatched, and it offers great DVD playback too along with pretty much everything else.

If it’s cheap, boxed correctly and marketed well, this could be huge.

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54 Comments

  1. I think it would also need an upgraded browser for this concept.

    • Have you tried the browser recently?

      It’s actually rather good now…

  2. I already control my PS3 with my receiver remote through HDMI, the PS3 slim had that capability since it’s launch. But Sony might have added drivers/support for hybrid SSD/HDD discs, I don’t know what has happened (hardrive change, game patch/PS3 FW) but Rage now runs without any texture reloading when you turn around on the spot…

    • Me too, only annoying thing is when I want the TV’s XMB, that’s a bit awkward, but there’s a nice cheat to skip out a couple of button presses.

  3. Jesus Christ….a 20MB HDD on your Amiga, that must have cost a £2.000 deposit with monthly installment payments. I upgraded my Amiga A1200 with a 2MB HDD drive I think, and I had to travel to that London to get it :P

    • I cheated and put a PC hard drive in my 1200 so it was 650mb. Loved that machine, and the 500 before it. Cd32 was disappointing though

    • I think you probably upgraded the RAM or had the first HDD which was 20MB. Also, third party company GVP brought out a 20MB HDD with 2MB of RAM on board. I remember it clearly as my mate bought one for £320. Ouch!

      I’ve just checked. Some headcases have managed to get 4GB HDDs running on their Amigas. Awesome!

      • Yeah, I’d got my wires crossed. Checked earlier and I had actually installed a Western Digital Caviar Lite 170MB HDD, I’d mixed up the Ram/CPU upgrades with HDD’s. I vaguely remember at the time they were selling Blizzard or Picasso ? Ram and CPU accelerators for astronomical prices and those prices just stuck in my head for everything Amiga upgrade-wise :)
        Always wanted the Amiga 4000 tower but couldn’t get the mortgage at the time. :P

      • The most common upgrade for most Amiga owners now is to use an IDE->CompactFlash adapter and shove a CF card in there. Nice cheap, small, cool running, easy solution to getting a HD in there.

      • Sounds like the business end, I remember vaguely the nightmare of having try and fit the new HDD inside my warranty voided (screw under a sticker) A1200, and the waiting game to see if it installed properly….absolutely no room to manoevre.

      • i got 16 Gb HDD in my amiga 4000 :-)

  4. 16GB console purely for Blu Ray and Streaming movie services / Internet TV sounds promising as long as Sony advertise the shiz out of it and market it as such, a cheap media device that “does everything”. If they get it right they could convince all the late HD adopters to upgrade and there is obviously money to be made there. But they will most likely release it and expect miracle marketing fairies to advertise it for them.
    As a gamer – this is just too late, i’d love an even slimmer PS3 with Flash Drive support – but about 2 years ago! Now I want the next generation and am already saving up for it, and to be honest – with PSN downtime and the inconsistent online experience – if it isn’t improved for next gen then I won’t be buying anymore Playstation branded hardware.

  5. The PS3 will never be a true media centre without native .mkv support and Sony would have implemented that by now if Sony could (wanted to). I know there are work arounds (which I have to use on a regular basis). Annoying though that Sony’s cheaper budget Blu-ray players generally support .mkv and the PS3 doesn’t/can’t do. Rant over

    • It would be nice if Sony could add more codecs, and subtitle support, but I’ve come to peace with what it’s got.
      It probably has something to do with the fact that 90% of mkv files are pirated. But the Ps3 plays avi, mp4 and mt2s and that’s really all that’s needed. An mp4 can be played on just about everything, so it’s the format to go with for compability.

      • The piracy argument does not stack up for me, its the excuse always used yet does not explain away why Sony’s own budget Blu-ray players support it, plus many of their Smart TVs. As you I have come to terms with it also. A trick was missed though.

      • As 90% of mp4 and avi’s are also pirated. My LG TV play those and MKV files just fine, with proper subtitles support. If Sony really wants the PS3 to be a multimedia hub, they better make it truly multimedia capable, not on a way that people will turn away from it to use other devices.

  6. Great article there, thank you. Some interesting speculation nicely rounded off with a few “if”, the biggest probably being the ‘…marketed well’ which Sony probably won’t do.

    As a side question, where’s that social banner come from? The one that follows me down the screen? Please can it go away?

    • Yes, please make it so we can remove the banner.

      • What banner? I see no banner?

        Although if it is a social banner, i can see why it follows you down the screen – Social stuff is all about following/stalking isn’t it? :P

      • @Forrest_01 “Social stuff is all about following/stalking isn’t it?” which is one of the reasons why I’m not on Facebook.

    • the stalking banner is freaking me out, but the whole site in general (since its lovely facelift) does feel like its slower to load on all my devices and dare i say even a bit clunky.

  7. I don’t really know much about the technical side or the difference in memory types. If I already have a space 500GB HDD kicking about, I assume I can’t just buy the 16GB PS3 and install this, since it’s a different type on memory, I’d still need to buy the more expensive 250GB PS3 and then swap the HDDs? This is assuming I don’t want removable memory and that this speculation is all true.

    • If Sony keeps their policy, a free 2.5″ HDD bay awaits inside the 16GB unit. I don’t think they’d add an actual 16GB SSD drive, it’s much, but much cheaper, to add onboard 16GB flash memory. I wouldn’t enve be surprised to see people buying out the 250/500GB units to find out that they can remove the drive and temporarily turn their PS3s to a “basic” unit, as I believe for manufacturing reasons all units in the end will come with the flash memory and the decision to which unit it becomes will depend on having a drive installed or not.

      • Thanks – I hope you’re right. It’ll certainly work out much cheaper for me if this is the case!! Fingers crossed

  8. Makes sense really. Over half of the people I know who own PS3s bought it as a cheap blu-ray player and to play through the Uncharted series (which of course don’t require sizable installs). 16GB of solid state storage would be perfect for this.

    • Also Sony have seen the success MS have had with their 4gb model and want a slice of that pie.

    • Pretty much my situation. I only want to play a handful of games if I got hold of a cut price PS3 and I doubt they would ever come close to 16gb worth of memory.

  9. A good article here. I guess this makes sense really, and I for one would definitely look at this if I didn’t already have a PS3. A cheap blu-ray/social media hub where I can game too. With less time being able to play games, I do now get on now and again, but don’t require the massive hard drive. So for me I would have a big interest if they did this for the PS4 too, but only if it was available on release.

  10. As i said before, it needs to have a freeview tuner built in. Then this would really be a great little system for you home entertainment needs. Who wants a PlayTv box stuck next to their PS3 Slim??!

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