STATEMENT OF PERSONAL BIAS: I've been a PS3 owner ever since the 60GB Classic became available in 2007 and I've been impressed with the PS3's reliability, versatility and its sheer power - I've owned both Classic and Slim models, upgraded most, gave away a couple. In the end one's choice for a gaming console is a matter of personal taste and preference but the PS3 is by far the more popular 'gaming' or 'entertainment' implement in our household. And we do own an Xbox.
The FAQ below and the more free-form text that follows are the outcome of the quick unboxing of the Uncharted 3: Game of the Year Bundle.
Q: Why should I buy a PS3 at all? What's it good for? A: With a PS3 you can play disc-based or downloaded games and this includes no-fee support for multiplayer, play Blu-ray, DVD movies or stream, rent or download movies or your own videos, play CDs or upload and play your own music, upload and display your photos, listen to Internet radio stations, access an ever-increasing number of Internet services such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Music Unlimited, browse the Web, play content off DLNA-compatible computers, laptops, media servers or network-attached storage (NAS) or allow your computers to play content stored on your PS3, integrate with your PSP or Vita portable consoles.
Q: In what ways is the new PS3 different from the current models? A: The new model (Super Slim) is smaller, lighter, more quiet, more power efficient, has a larger HDD and has discs top-loaded vs. front-loaded on the Slim.
Q: Is the new model less expensive than the Slim? A: The Super Slim is only available as a bundle at the time I'm writing this (will update). The current bundle consisting essentially of the console itself, a physical game, a downloadble game and 30 day Playstation Plus is slightly more expensive than the plain old model console but sells for less than a similar old model bundle - PS3 160GB with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 Blu-ray Disc Bundle which is $300 and it adds only a movie and a 30-day Playstation Plus membership.
Q: Can I get the console without the games and pay less? A: Not at this time. But the console I helped unbox had the Uncharted 3 shrink-wrapped and it should be possible to sell it through Amazon as `new'.
Q: I am ready to order a PS3 but I'm undecided. Should I buy a Slim or a Super Slim? A: If you would buy Uncharted 3 with the Slim, then you should pick the new model. If not... it's a matter of preference: front loading (Slim) vs. top loading (this model). Buy the Slim if you can't stand `top loading' your discs but buy this model otherwise because of the small improvements (see first answer)
Q: Should I buy this bundle or should I wait for more choices or a price drop? A: Either or both are likely to happen post Black Friday but if Uncharted 3 is your kind of game this could still be a good buy,
Q: Isn't Sony expected to announce the PS4 soon? A: It is likely that Sony's next generation console will be launched in 2013. Sony recently committed to support the PS3 at least through 2015.
Q: If I already have a PS3 is this model worth the upgrade? A: See the answer to the first question. The new model has an additional 90GB of HDD storage when compared to the 160GB Slim.
Q: I am planning to buy my first Sony console? Should I buy the Slim, the Super Slim (this bundle) or wait for the PS4? A: We bought our first PS3 in 2007 and we paid a lot for it. The reward was us enjoying it for the 2 years between the time of our purchase and Sony announcing some less expensive models. In our case it was well worth it. I would expect the PS3 to remain a viable gaming platform and home entertainment center for at least two more years.
Q: Is the new model compatible with all my existing peripherals: controllers, Move, Eye camera, keyboard, charger? A: Yes.
Q: Does this model come with HDMI, USB cables? A: There is a USB cable in the box but you will have to supply your own HDMI if you need one.
Q: What is actually in the box? A: The console itself, power cord, composite video cable, USB cable, the controller, Uncharted 3 game in a sealed case, DUST 514 voucher and Playstation Plus 30-day membership, User Guide.
Q: Once I buy this bundle, what else will I need to have a fully functional console? A: You should buy an HDMI cable if you are going to connect your PS3 to an HD TV. You may also want a second controller. A Move bundle (controllers, camera) is highly optional. A charger should be okay but it's not needed because controllers charge through the PS3's USB ports.
Q: If I buy the 250GB model can I upgrade later to a larger size? A: Yes, Sony will allow you to replace the existing HDD with a compatible 2.5" SATA drive without voiding the warranty. There are dozens of step-by-step guides on YouTube.
Q: Will I have to pay Sony if I wanted to play co-op or multiplayer games? A: No. The basic PSN access is free. There is the Playstation Plus option that adds some perks such as free trial games, betas and demos and some discounts on downloaded titles but `non-essential' is the key word. I never felt I needed to pay for that service.
Q: Is there a complete list of services currently on the PS3? A: This is what is available at the time I'm writing this: NFL Sunday Ticket, Hulu Plus, Netflix, YouTube, Vudu HD Movies, Crunchyroll (anime), NHL Gamecenter Live, MLB.tv, XOS College Sports, CinemaNow, Laugh Factory Live (beta), Music Unlimited.
SLIMS vs. SUPERSLIMS
It's likely that Sony may stop making/selling the existing 160/320GB Slim models and this 250GB and the upcoming 500GB models with their various 'bundles are going to be the only models to choose from in the near future. At the time of my writing this review this 250GB Uncharted 3 Game of the Year bundle is the only 'super slim' configuration available with the 500GB bundle expected to launch in October.
The few hands-on hours I spent with this model convinced me that the new PS3 is a slight improvement over the models it replaces and here are the changes:
- Price - yes, the 250GB Super Slim's bundle costs more than a plain 160GB Slim but it's a bundle - it comes with a physical game and a download voucher in addition to the console. There is a resalable, shrink-wrapped copy of Uncharted 3 inside and you could probably sell it at Amazon for more than the price difference between the bundle and the Slim. It's quite likely that we are going to see an unbundled 250GB configuration for under two hundred dollars during the holiday season. - Smaller - I believe Sony stated that the new model is 20% lighter than the Slim. - Larger HDD - the extra 90GB (250GB vs. 160GB) may not sound like a lot but the extra storage is enough room for maybe 30-40 downloaded games or 20-30 DVD-quality movies. - Burns less electricity - the Super Slim comes with a 190W power supply which is 60W less than the Slim's 250W. - Fans are more quiet - the smaller model has smaller fans and I could hardly hear them. - Disc loading - it's changing from the front-loader to a top-loader method. This method guarantees that you'll never end up with a stuck disc but the sliding door can be noisy. - Finish - the shape is more streamlined but the overall impression if 'cheaper looking' when compared to the Slim or the Classic. I personally don't care because my PS3 lives under the TV and it's not seen.
RATING THIS BUNDLE I tend to like this new model for the several small improvements over the Slim. Because I don't mind `top loading' and `looks' for a console that's not seen don't matter. I would pick this model over the Slim because of the several small improvements. If this was my first PS3 purchase I would buy one with the knowledge that a new model may be announced one year from now because paying less than a dollar a day for one fine gaming and overall entertaining center is well worth it but that's just my view.
I am going to rate this bundle a four stars, mainly because at the time I'm writing this review and at least for the next few weeks we won't have the freedom to choose between a bundle and a just plain Super Slim for a lower price. Uncharted 3 is a great Sony exclusive and we already own a copy and I'd prefer to buy a copy because I wanted to, not because I have little choice.