Review: Sony PS3 Slim

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Sony regularly publishes firmware updates for the PS3. For the uninitiated, the firmware is the software that’s built into the console. Updating the PS3 can correct crashes or add new functions, including compatibility for things like Blu-ray 2.0.

Updating the firmware is easy on the PS3: All you need to do is hit the System Update button under the Settings menu on the consoles’ XrossMediaBar.

The long-awaited PS3 Slim is finally out, and has been on sale since late August. It has the same characteristics as the original PlayStation 3, but in a smaller and sleeker form factor. That’s a real advantage if you want the PS3 to fit in smaller spaces. But as a console and Blu-ray player, what real improvements does it have compared to the original PS3?

Specifications
Compatible formats (write)None
Compatible formats (read)DivX (except 3.1), DVD, Blu-ray, WMV, VC-1, H264, Photo, SACD, CD Audio
Built-in decodersDD, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD, DTS-HD MA via HDMI, HDMI and optical digital audio outputs
Hard Drive
120 GB or 250 GB
Connectivity
HDMI 1.3, composite video, component video, optical digital audio out
Dimensions
11.4" W x 2.6" H x 11.4" D
Weight
7 pounds

To give you the short-and-quick answer, the PS3 Slim is an almost perfect copy of the older PS3 – which some have seen fit to call the “PS3 Fat.” Here’s what’s different about the PS3 Slim, in five points:

  • Its case is now slimmer and more elegant; it measures 11.4-inches wide 2.6-inches tall and 11.4-inches deep.
  • Its power consumption has been reduced, to 0.3 W in standby and 77 W to 81 W while in operation – whether a disk is being read or just with the start menu displayed. The original PS3 design consumes 1.6 W in standby and 112 to 115W in operation. A standalone Blu-ray player typically uses less than 0.5 W in standby and 13 to 20 W in operation.
  • Noise is under constant control, and the fan seems to kick in less than on the older model; that last point is a subjective assessment. Our noise measurement, taken from one meter (39-inches) away from the front of the PS3 Slim read 37.2 dBA (compared to 34.3 dBA with the console turned off). That’s not noisy, but it is more audible than a dedicated Blu-ray player.
  • The PS3 Slim comes with a 120 GB hard drive, but a 250 GB option will be available soon.
  • Finally, the HDMI audio output now supports bitstream mode for HD audio formats. That’s good news for some Home Cinema HD amplifier owners! PCM mode, of course, is still available too.

For the rest, as we said, the graphical interface, the display quality, the upscaling of SD sources, and the handling of the joystick are strictly identical on the two consoles. Read our test of the first-generation Sony PS3 to find out more.

Archos 5 IT (32 GB)
Pros
Cons
  • Finally compatible with bitstream audio
  • Lower power consumption than first-gen PS3
  • Restrained, elegant case
  • Quality Standard Definition upscaling
  • Remote control is optional
  • Noisier than standalone Blu-ray players
  • Consumes more power than standalone Blu-ray players
  • As a Blu-ray player, the PS3 Slim isn’t a revolutionary change from the PS3, but it does offer a few new features that may appeal to some users.