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.