Pros: Slimmer PS3 still delivers the best sound and vision quality for your games and movies!
Cons: No love for your old PS2 games?
This spring, my old 40 gig PS3 gave us the yellow light of death. We needed to get a new PS3. Since the old one was full, and we always needed to delete content to make room for new content. We finally went to Gamestop and replaced our dead game system.
The Slim PS3 160 Gig
Cost / Value The PS3 is $249.00 for the 160 gig model. We could have purchased a used one, but they were only about $20 dollars cheaper. I would rather have a new system with its guarantee. Considering that the PS3 was $600.00 when it first came out, I was glad it had gone down considerably. A 320 gig model was also available for $320.00 but we were on a budget. I found that the prices for PS3 were the same whether I went to BJ's Wholesale Club, Best Buy, or Walmart. We bought ours at Gamestop.
The old plug did not work, so I had to reach down behind my system to plug the new PS3 in. (The end that fits into the back of the PS3 is a slightly different shape) We use the HDMI input for full Blu Ray sound and vision. Entering my old PS3 name and password allowed me to load up my sons trophies (and my few trophies) and let the playstation network know it was still us. I was disapointed that there seems to be no easy way to get the data off my old machine. However, al the DLC (downloadable content) we had purchased was still availalble, so that was not lost. After reconfiguring the settings the way I wanted, and re entering my WI FI passwords, the PS3 was fully functioning and ready to run.
Unit Design / Contents
The new PS3 took up the same footprint as the old one, although it is slimmer and sleeker looking. The top is stil slightly rounded, discouraging you from stacking your PS3 games and Discs on top of it. The unit seems quieter than the old one, I swear my old PS3 had a louder fan than my fish tank filters. This one runs quietly. It comes wih one PS3 controller (Six axis dual vibration). This was good as it seems that the controllers don't have a long life with active gamers. We were glad we still had a couple old ones. The USB cords for connecting the controllers to charge are included, as are regular cords. I would have hoped that it would come with an HDMI cable, but I just used my existing one to hook it into my receiver.
Blu Ray Player
I couldn't really notce much improvement from my old PS3 to this one, only because the PS3 was perfect. The loading of Blu Rays seems a bit faster. Be sure all the settings are set for maximum picture quality and HDMI output. The only drawback is using the PS3 controller as a quirky remote control. It takes some getting used to. The PS3 updates itself automatically on your wireless network (It supports wired network as well, with the appropriate ethernet connection in the back).
Video Quality - The picture quality for movies is really just amazingly perfect. I use a five foot by eight foot movie screen with a 1080p Optoma HD20 home theater projector, so I would notice any imperfections. I just recently watched The Big Four (Metallica, Megadeth, Antrhax and Slayer) Blu Ray concert from Sofia, Bulgeria, and the picture was so clear I felt like I could jump right into the mosh pit. Seriously the last time I had seen any of these bands so crystal clear was when I was actually in the mosh pit at a live show.
Sound Quality - Blu ray offers great audio codecs, usually either DTS HD or Dolby HD, from 5.1 to 7.1 channels. The sound quality of Blu Rays is incredible compared to regular DTS and Dolby settings, much more volume and more clarity and dynamic range.
I have what was a state of the art Pioneer Elite DVD player that also played DVD-audios and SACDs. It had excellent picture quality and sound, but in side by side comparisons, the PS3 acts as a much better upscaling DVD player too, getting the maximum sound and picture quality from your DVD collection.
The Playstation Network is still free, which is great for my son, who loves to challenge people in all his favorite games with online content. Colors pop and shine on the Blu Ray, and the surround sound lets you know just where your enemies are. Most PS3 games now are at least in 5.1 sound and many support 7.1. As I write this, he is busy in the Borderlands, which supports 7.1 surround sound. Game graphics look especially impressive on a large screen. In short, PS3 for us, remains the game system of choice. Batman, The Sims, Dark Souls, GTA IV, Borderlands, Call of Duty, Skyrim, all look and sound very impressive and offer a game immersion unimagined only five years ago.
For new games, it still seems to take forever to download and install the necessary stuff to start playing.
No love for PS 2 Games?
The game playing brings up one major complaint I have about the PS3. Back in the day, there was a system that would support PS2 games. We had decided that if we ever replaced our PS3 game, we would get the bigger better system that supported the old games. Somewhere along the line, all of the new PS3 systems dropped support of PS2 games. If you want to enjoy your old games, you either have to hope that you can Buy them again remastered for the PS3. (we did that with Silent Hill Collection which has remastered for HD, the 2nd and 3rd Silent Hill game). You can keep your old PS2. We have one around somewhere, but it isn't hooked up at the moment, but of course you are still limited to the 8 gigabyte memory cartridges that fill up fast. The other option is to find an old PS3 60 gig model that actually was backwards compatible.
Netflix, Vudu, Amazon and more
My son and I watch a lot of Netflix, and their service is built right into the PS3 system with full sound and great picture quality. Many of Netflix's streaming film are in HD, and the picture quality from the PS3 is superior than from my computer. My computer sound card is only stereo too, so the full 5.1 sound from Netflix movies is a big step up. You have to sign into your Netflix account, and need your computer handy, but it doesn't take long for your queue and suggested movies to pop up. The Netflix navigation on PS3 is easy to use too, although it can be a pain to type in the search features if you use the PS3 controller.
Vudu for pay movies is excellent, you can get razor sharp quality if you have a fast broadband connection. I use it from time to time, but they are expensive, sometimes 5.99 for the HD 1080p movies. If I can find it on Redbox on Blu Ray, it's only 1.29 to rent. You can also watch movies on Amazon Prime. I have not tried the other services, however, PS3 also supports Pandora and other movie and music services. Cable may become a thing of the past with so many alternatives.
Other Interesting Notes
You can still save music and photos on your PS3, I don't only because I don't want to use up the memory. I did have one qualm, for about a week, we had to hook this up to an old TV while my projector was out for maintenance. I had to call Sony to find out how to reset the system to default, because the system was set for HDMI output. I had no way to reset it for my old TV. It does have a default that allows you to reset it though, holding in the button after it starts til it beeps. The magic of the PS3 is lost on old systems though, it really shines when connected to a home theater system that allows it to work to its full potential. Again, I like that this PS3 is much quieter than my first 40 gig model, I think that is a great improvement alone.
Of course you still can get messages from your gamer friends in the upper right hand corner, even if you are watching a movie. The Play Station store still offers lots of movies, games and downloadable content for you to buy, and the PS network still links to a credit card of your choice making it really easy to purchase things without thought.
The slimline 160 Gig PS3 is much improved over the older models. It holds more data, runs quieter and looks better. It also loads games and discs faster, although the system is still slow when you are loading a new game for the first time. My only complaint would be that Sony opted not to allow the system to be backwards compatible for PS2 games. Overall though PS3 offers a great heart for your home entertainment systems with access to Netflix and other music and movie services, excellent DVD upscaling, great Blu Ray features and of course.... it plays games!