Sony still hasn't confirmed when we'll see a PlayStation 4 -- bet on late 2013 as the earliest. In the meantime, though, the venerable PlayStation 3 has gotten a face-lift. We've dubbed it the "Super Slim PlayStation 3," since this third iteration of the console is the thinnest and smallest yet. It's logical to assume that this will probably be the last PlayStation 3 design change before its successor, so it allows us to take a look at the console as a whole to see how far it really has come.
If you're someone who hasn't yet purchased a game console this generation or owns another system, or is simply trying to discover if the Super Slim is worth the upgrade, this review should serve as an answer to all of those scenarios.
What you need to know about the Super Slim PS3 is that it will first be available in two bundle-only packages. The first, a 250GB model, will ship September 25 for $270 and include Uncharted 3 plus the full download-only game Dust 514 (along with some subsequent DLC).
The second bundle will go for $300 and include a 500GB PS3 with Assassin's Creed III packed in. That version will go on sale the same day as the game it's bundled with, October 30.
It's likely the Super Slim PS3 will be offered outside of a bundle (especially given I discovered the Uncharted 3 box was just a removable sleeve on top of a "plain" PS3 box), but as of this writing it's offered only in those two bundles. Of course, each of these bundles includes one DualShock3 controller.
In look, shape, and design aesthetic, the Super Slim PS3 resembles something of a hybrid between the PS3 Slim and the original PlayStation 3 that was released back in 2006. That said, it's much smaller, measuring 11.4 inches wide by 2.36 inches tall by 9.05 inches deep. It's 20 percent smaller and 25 percent lighter than its immediate predecessor, the PS3 Slim.
At first look, the Super Slim PS3 is surprisingly small. It lacks the bulk the original PS3 had and the surface area the Slim PS3 takes up. It's much more in line with the size of the smaller Xbox 360 and won't be as inconvenient in your home theater setup.
With this PS3, Sony has adopted a non-motorized sliding disc cover instead of a slot-loading disc tray. It's completely analog, meaning you can open it manually by sliding the plastic cover right to left, or by hitting the eject button that rests on the front. This also means the cover must be manually closed. Sometimes it doesn't catch and you feel like you're using one of those old credit card imprinter machines. In short, it feels cheap. You don't realize how convenient autoloading disc trays are until they're gone. Whether it was to cut costs or save space, this move is ultimately a step back.
This disc tray might be a bigger deal than you think, especially if you're like me and keep your consoles in a shelf or cabinet. Now that it's a top-loading device, you'll really need to make sure you store the PS3 in an area that gives you enough room to pop discs in and out. Also, keeping the PS3 on a shelf doesn't give you whole lot of visibility, so you may find yourself fishing around the slot to make sure the disc is properly mounted on the spindle. This leaves room for damaging the parts inside the PS3 and possibly scratching a disc.
Like the others before it, this PS3 can sit horizontally or vertically. Sony recommends using a stand for the vertical orientation, but I was able to play games reliably without one.
Aside from the disc tray, the Super Slim PS3 is the same powerful gaming machine we've all come to know and love, just in a smaller box. It definitely lacks the heft and sense of build quality of the original PS3, and the move from matte plastic (of the Slim PS3) back to the fingerprint-magnet shiny gloss is a disappointment.
While this doesn't come as any surprise by now, the Super Slim PS3 does not have an infrared (IR) port for remote controls. I'll never understand the decision to leave it out again and again, but I guess Sony has its reasons.
There are also only two USB ports up front just like on the Slim PS3, but with all the Move and other USB-powered peripherals Sony has put out over the years, bumping those slots up to four would be a better idea.
Around back are all the usual suspects: Ethernet, HDMI, optical out, and AV multi out. But, for reasons that exist well beyond my comprehension, included once again in the box is a completely useless composite AV cable. One of the most powerful 1080p Blu-ray capable HD video gaming machines on Earth and they include a composite cable in the box. You cannot get an HD signal from composite cables. It was forgivable in 2006 but now it's a joke.
If there's one thing I'm really impressed with in the Super Slim PS3's design, it's the user-replaceable hard drive. Just like with the original and the Slim, owners can buy their own SATA hard drive and replace the stock one. Best of all, replacing the HDD in the Super Slim is the easiest yet. Simply sliding off the side panel reveals the drive bay, which can quickly be unscrewed.
Keep in mind that the new Super Slim PS3 doesn't feature anything new beyond its smaller size and storage capacities. It's the same ultracapable media hub it's always been, so for a deeper look into that specific functionality, it's worth checking out our past PS3 reviews.