At first glance the new Super Slim version of the PlayStation 3 is all good news: it’s notably smaller than the most recent Slim iteration of Sony’s long-running console, and its 500GB hard-disk is the largest yet offered as a standard fitment. Compare it to an original 2006-edition 60GB console, and the new model is around half the size, has almost ten times the memory and costs less – so happy days, right? Unsurprisingly, it’s not quite as simple as that…
The latest PS3 is around 25 per cent smaller and 20 per cent lighter than the outgoing Slim model and, as you’d expect, that makes it much smaller than the original console. Its new glossy finish gives it something of the look of its heavyweight forebear too yet, to our eyes, it looks a little retro after the matte finish adopted more recently. However, the most dramatic design departure is the adoption of a top-mounted disc mechanism with a sliding cover, replacing the slot-loading system of yore.
Doubtless this new mechanism saves cost and complexity, but it also feels cheap. Although the disc cover opens with spring assistance, you have to close it by hand. The new system’s also a bit cumbersome when loading discs with the PS3 mounted vertically: better to sit your Sony horizontally on a shelf – although then you’ll need to ensure there’s sufficient space above it to allow for easy access. Either way around, we prefer the old system.
more space, but no more sockets
Our review sample has 500GB of hard-disk space, enough to make it a truly useful media hub (a cheaper model with 12GB of flash memory is also available). Great, but we’d love to see more USB inputs: two just doesn’t seem enough in the Move era. However, our biggest gripe is that the PS3 still doesn’t come with an HDMI cable as standard: sure, there’s a composite AV cable in the box, but in the high definition age, that’s as useful as a propeller on an X-Wing.
Of course, not everything needed improvement. Sony’s XMB interface allows for simple configuration of all the PS3’s many abilities in seconds. And what abilities they are: gaming aside, you can play Blu-rays and DVDs, stream TV and films and even play a decent array of file types via your network or USB drive. 3D is catered for, as is TV recording and wavey-hand gaming, assuming you’re happy paying extra for those Move controllers. That’s a heck of a lot more than the original 'fat' PS3 was capable of when it first came out.
performance and noise
In comparison with the Slim there’s really no noticeable performance difference, which is no surprise given that in most regards the two are identical. We do have one gripe, though, and that is that the new Super Slim is noticeably louder than its forebear, especially when spinning discs – a result of the switch to that top-loading mechanism and cheap-feeling disc cover, we’d wager. It’s nowhere near as noisy as the original model could sometimes be, so don’t panic – but all the same, it’s not the improvement we’d hoped for.
Is the latest Super Slim PS3 better than the old one? To an extent the question’s moot: before long it’ll be the only version you can buy, and despite its relative age Sony has managed to keep it relevant with heaps of new features and functions. On the other hand, we’re not smitten by the new drive mechanism: if you’ve already got a Slim, hang on to it, and if you’re about to buy it might be worth seeing what the discounts are like on the outgoing model. Still, if you find yourself with a choice between a Super Slim or no PS3 at all, we recommend you dive in without delay.