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. Hey, quick question Alex. Is it possible to fit the 12gb variant with any 2.5 inch SATA hard drive, like with previous models? My fat PS3 is on its last legs, it seems to have caught the electronic equivalent of tuberculosis and I need to replace it soon. Many thanks!

    • If you’re thinking about putting in your fat PS3’s HDD into a new PS3, it will format it as soon as it boots up so you’ll lose everything on there.

      Only way is to either back up to external HDD, back up your saves to the PS+ Cloud, or do a data transfer from the old PS3 to the new one (although you’ll need to buy a bigger HDD for the new one)

      • Oh yes gazza, I’ve backed up my saves and everything, but thank you for the tip. Can you tell me more about this data transfer, though? Can you transfer PSN games through this method? I’d hate to redownload full games, it’d take forever!

      • Yes, you can transfer your games via the data transfer utility so you won’t have to download them again. Do a quick google search and I’m sure you’ll find a tutorial for it. :)

      • Thanks very much!

      • One thing though, you can’t data transfer above 80 GB. The utility doesn’t work with more data then that.

      • Here’s a guide I wrote on the Transfer Utility after I got my YLOd repaired… http://www.yellowlight.co.uk/ps3-cloning.php

    • Gazza’s right. You can use 2.5 inch drives, but you’ll also need a caddy.

      • Why is that, none of the other versions needed a caddy?

      • Can you clarify the caddy business as I’m wondering the same as NazzyQ? Ignoring the need for doing a transfer, if I have a spare 2.5′ sata drive is it possible to shove it inside the 12GB super slim (like you can with a phat or slim) or will it have to be permanently hooked up externally in a caddy?

      • The original PS3 needed a caddy. Wee metal thing.

      • So anyone with the original PS3 will have the caddy already.

      • Just like Tiger Woods;)

      • The original PS3’s caddy may not fit into the new PS3 as the 60GB and 80GB I have, have different caddy’s.

      • I seeee! I was way off thinking caddy as in external USB caddy. Nice one Alex, ta.

  2. The ridged bit looks really ugly, I wouldn’t look too bad if that bit there was also smooth, and with the finish of the original 60 gigs it would look fairly stylish and futuristic, rather than retro and ugly.

  3. They could have upped the number of USB ports. Two more in the back would be very handy

    • +1000000000

      Amazing nothing has done to improve anything in the new model.

    • I liked the original model… but its a shame they scaled back from that.

  4. In my opinion, it’s quite clearly the worst PS3 ever created, both in terms of aesthetics and practicality. I only got a slim because my phat died. Hopefully my slim will hold out so I don’t ever have to get one of these monstrosities!

  5. Looks like one of those old electric cigarette lighters you could get from Argos years ago.

  6. It’s so pretty, gonna pre order ASAP!

  7. The lack of noise would be nice however I’d probably just end up getting a used Slim and buying a new hard-drive for it. Not sure if I’d like the Top-loading contraption.

    • Im thinking the same, I’ve changed my mind the regular slim is the beast for me. What did it was the IGN in boxing video, the slim just looks so sleek, understated and posh next to the SS. Having said that, I can remember the uproar three or so years ago at how tacky the slim looked in those leaked photos! I probably agreed, how times have changed.

  8. Im going to pre order this just so i can have it sony fanboy and i need to do another unboding ideo om youtube lol

    • Subtle and clever,why ambassador you’re spoiling us.

  9. Back to a shiny dust magnet finish I see. As for top loading, I like. As for lack of an HD Caddy, I no like.

  10. I like it ^_^

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