Review: The New PS3

Here it is, Sony’s swansong for the generation – bold, brave and distinctive, how does the new PS3 hold up?

We take a first hand look.

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PS3 Super Slim

Within 30 seconds, that glossy charcoal black exterior is covered in smudgy fingerprints, losing most of its shine in mere moments. Of course, I’m handling it in ways it won’t be handled once in position – flipping it over, examining those distinct ridges, checking for the usual ports. It’s that new hardware rush, like a doctor quickly checking a fallen patient, running through a pre-meditated checklist as quickly as hand and eye can coordinate.

The new PS3, out in just over a week, is strong, bold and desperately trying to be different, but seems to be facing something of an uphill struggle with gamers used to sleek, curved lines on their consoles. It’s that top section, ridged, cutaway, scooped out like an eighties Bang and Olufsen project but without much of the refinement commonly associated with high-end hi-fi equipment – you can’t miss it, it’s a defining feature.

PS3 Super Slim Front

Cast your mind back to the original PlayStation – its mark was the singular, central disk lid. PlayStation 2? A solid, bulky, square affair with – remember? – ridges galore. The PS3? Curved, piano black sweeping lines and touch sensitive buttons. They’ve all been as different as consoles can be, and since then Sony have tweaked, pushed and squashed what made the PS3 the PS3 into svelter, smaller versions. With some success and widespread acceptance.

But think of this: the ‘Slim’ was known for being smaller, but it was actually otherwise rather unremarkable, a thinning down of some considerable design decisions into something approaching safe; that’s been cast aside with this 2012 remix – it’s anything but conservative and it’s actually, having stared at its lines and grooves for some time, rather outspoken.

It’s a centrepiece, a talking point, a statement.

Even the PS3 logo takes a back seat, muted as it is atop the disk tray. Indeed, this model is all about the new, gone is the elegant, hungry drive slot and in its place is a full width old-fashioned sliding piece of plastic which flicks to the side, revealing a circular, gaping area for your disk. It’s deeper than you might think, just shy of 10mm, the twin (DVD and Blu-ray) lasers sitting proud and naked bottom centre amongst the other plastic mechanics.

PS3 Super Slim Reference

The action isn’t hugely smooth, it’s spring loaded (and triggered via a long horizontal rocker on the front of the unit) and the cover moves a little quicker than I’d like. Returning it is entirely manual, too – there’s little force needed but you can feel you’re pushing against resistance, the lid snapping into place with some authority. There’s a bit of play when a disk is in, too – I can see games getting some stick after a few beers, and getting one out requires nimble fingers to get behind the left hand side.

At least it’s quiet, both the drive (which barely registers a click and a whir) and the main unit, which is next to silent on boot and rarely gets excited. As a media centre this would be perfect, the noise levels really are low.

It’s small, though, the unit itself. Considerably lighter than expected, too, and a quick shake resulted in no movement other than a slight shuffle of the loading cover as it tapped the sides of the runners. In place, on a media centre surrounded by a slimmed down Xbox 360 and a black Wii, it sits somewhere between, dimensionally and aesthetically, its odd juxtaposition of old and new actually quite dominant. I get it. I didn’t think I would, but I do – it’s quirky enough to warrant further attention and the generous hard drive size means it won’t need swapping out for the remainder of the current generation.

Internally it’s business as usual.

This is, after all, just a PS3. It’s a new case, a new design, but internally it’s business as usual. With Uncharted 3 in the drive you wouldn’t know any difference on-screen, but in the living room Sony have managed to craft something that not only catches the eye but managed to also ensure that it keeps getting occasional glances down the line too.

There’s a sense that it’s cheaper to build, for sure – you can’t escape the fact that that top-loader is an oddity and feels a little flimsier than a slot-based drive does, and the absence of a HDMI cable is a bit cheeky – and retro-wise I’d have preferred a smoked glass cover instead of solid plastic to go all the way, but this new PS3 is a striking, coherent new design. Closing off the generation in a distinct, diminutive manner, Sony have squeezed a lot into this package.

And I rather like it.

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62 Comments

  1. I like the look of it but hope I never have to buy one, as it would mean my current PS3 will be broken.

  2. Lols at the ‘Smoked Glass’ cover – proper retro :)

    • proper retro would be wood surely. ^_^

      • Trying to think of some double entendre about wood and my PS3…

  3. What size drive was this? I understand the 12Gb is solid state so would be silent but I am interested if there is a speed difference.
    Since I swapped mine out for a SSD I have noticed games that install to the HDD are quicker and installs are much faster too.

  4. It reminds me of Spock’s torpedo coffin…
    I don’t think the design is for me, I’m afraid. The grooved lid just looks out of place and the lack of slot loading might save a few dollars per device, but is a step backwards in terms of functionality.
    Not to mention the pricing and stuff…
    I may try and nab a Slim when they have a clear out of stock.

    • Same here. Although I also didn’t like the Slim design so I just hope my 80GB phat model survives this generation…

  5. By god, what an ugly console. At least Tony will be happy that there is a reason for the remove disc option. *flees*

    I don’t like the fact that we have to pull it out with a bit of force as i can see a lot of games getting broken that way. I’m not a fan of supersize zero models of console as i would be a bit paranoid about it overheating. However, the low noise levels is a welcome addition as i can’t count the amount of times, my fat 80GB has threatened to drown out the sound of a game or film i’m watching. I can see many people forgetting to close the disc tray after use thus allowing a build up of dust. I am disappointed that there is no switch as i prefer to switch my PS3 off when i’m not using it and watching tv.

    I think this is geared towards the media crowd who are causal gamers or just want a media center.

    • Just wondered if you ever hard a PS1? I loved clicking that game in for some reason, felt like I was actually putting a game in the console, rather than watching a DVD. I might just be a bit odd, but I like that and I never snapped a disc.

    • “I can see lot of games broken that way”

      What.. wait how?

    • Snap a disc?

      I never did that to a CD or DVD, and aren’t Blu-Rays supposed to be tougher than they are? Certainly harder to scratch anyway.

    • That’s my point, I’m not happy, as it still doesn’t remove the disc, it just opens the tray.

      • um… i’m not certain but i imagine “Remove Disc” doesn’t actually open or disengage the tray, i think it possibly just stops the disc spinning.. although i presume just opening the tray would also stop the disc spinning…. perhaps Alex can clarify that one for us?

  6. Has anyone tested to see if the SSD loads games quicker than the HDD version?
    (PSN / games with install to drive)

    • Digital Foundry did extensive tests with an installed SSD a while back and I think I recall the findings being that, basically, it speeds up the initial install processes but doesn’t make a marked difference on load times in-game.

      • Cheers, It’s the load times that are a pain in the arse.

      • that was a long time ago with early generation SSD’s.
        I have a 3.5inch 250GB and that is much faster at loading than a 2.5inch.
        So a modern SSD would blow the socks off a HDD now.

  7. I thought you were a bit harsh at first. I like the fact it looks retro-ish. Yes it might seem/look a bit cheap but I actually prefer it to the current slim. I doubt I’ll buy another for the bedroom at it’s current price though.

    Love the comment about smoked glass lol. Just like my first Sony stack.

    • Agreed, it’s nothing on the old bread bin consoles.. they looked lovely. But the old slim was a chunk of plastic “meh.”. I rate the design of this over the old slim any day.
      The only problem.. bloody top loading. No way, not with my son’s chocolatey fingers.

  8. It looks nice, but to be honest so long as it does the job I couldn’t care less really. The only reason I want one is because my fatty is dead, so price is my only concern – and hopefully if the price is reasonable some new people will jump on the PlayStation bandwagon!

  9. “I’d have preferred a smoked glass cover” Then it would like an old record deck LoL:D
    I like it;) If you have seen the ‘Unboxing’ on that cr*p IGN site(yeah i hate 99% of gaming sites) :D you will see its much smaller than the PS3 now(well back to front ways) (so now i can fit it on the top of my glass stand near my HD:SONY:TV, GOD that will look SEXY AS F**K) :P
    + It’s just a shame(sorry for still going on about it) it hasn’t got FULL PS2 playback back :(
    + It’s not £149.99 UK & $199 in the US. Oh well. Not to worry as long as SONY keep pumping out the brilliant games(mainly PS3 Exclusives) then i am happy;)

    • Sony leet n der xcluisv gaimz.. Yeeeeh PS master race

    • let it go, let it go. Play your PS3 games on your ps3 ;-)

  10. The promise of a more silent console is alluring…
    My slim whirs and hums all day long.
    Might be a while until I can afford that luxury though.

    • yeah, my PS3 Slim is the noisiest console I’ve ever owned – and I had a fat 360! That Blu-ray drive clicks and clunks along like a mad thing.

      • that sounds broken. My mates did that and he sent it back to Sony, it then came back and hardly made a noise.

      • It’s broken. Contact Sony and get it replaced. Mine is as close to silent as you can get without actually being silent.

      • I only know of 3 PS3 Slims that I’ve personally been near and they all did the same thing. Really noisy disc read on Blu-rays. It’s very distracting though so if it is a fault, I might take a punt at getting it replaced!

      • You need a louder sound system, you won’t notice the drive then :)

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