Sony's announcement of the PlayStation 3 Slim on Tuesday was no surprise for most gamers and industry experts. Parts that once cost a small fortune, such as hard drives, processors, and special disc-reading lenses, continue to fall in price and take up less space. It's only natural the machines that use them would shrink as well.
The PlayStation 3 was physically the largest of the three current-generation home consoles, followed by Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii. With never-ending lust by consumers for smaller gadgets, the current configuration was just not cutting it.
What's surprising about the Slim, though, is that Sony was the second-most recent of the three companies to have released its console, yet it's the first to offer a completely new form factor. Microsoft was the first out of the gate with a North America release of the Xbox 360 in late November 2005. Sony and Nintendo followed suit with the PlayStation 3 and Wii, respectively, which were released a week apart from each other in mid-November 2006.
The closest either Nintendo or Microsoft has come to a redesign since is Microsoft, which began including an HDMI port and increasing the included storage, alongside a major revision to the system software which allowed games to be played off the hard drive.
In the case of the PS3 Slim, it's actually the fourth generation of the device. During that three-year period, things like the included storage space jumped from 20GB to 120GB. And a recently unearthed patent at the FCC filing shows that a 250GB model is just around the corner.
So is it normal to release a heavily revised version of a gaming system within three years of the initial release? It depends on who you are. Let's take a look at some notable shrinkage from the last three generations of consoles. I think that you'll notice a trend.… Read more