Sony PlayStation 3 Slim review
The new PlayStation 3 (PS3) is an amazing piece of technology.
As well as playing Blu-ray discs and games, it has a web browser, can play music, photos and videos from data discs or via a network, lets you copy files to its 120GB hard disk and enables you to chat with friends over the PlayStation network. It even includes a practical screensaver that shows weather and news from around the world while contributing to medical science by running a folding@home client in the background.
Setting up such a complicated device should be a pain, but Sony's Xross Media Bar menu system is easy to use. Performance was a mixed bag: it was quick to eject discs from its slot-loading drive, but slower to get to a disc's main menu and slower to skip chapters than some cheaper Blu-ray players. The PS3 Slim's DVD upscaling was the best we've seen, though, and it was able to play Blu-ray content recorded to DVD as well as AVCHD files.
The PS3's game-playing ability is a huge advantage over standard Blu-ray players, but the premium you pay isn't just for games. The web browser lets you access the XL version of YouTube, as well as other media-sharing sites such as Picasa, although there are no tools to let you upload media files in bulk. You can grab files from your PC or other media device over the network - both wired and wireless - removing the need for a separate media PC.
The PS3 Slim doesn't have as many USB ports as the original PS3, but it runs quieter and draws significantly less power. Viewing files on a USB flash drive is awkward as you have to press the 'triangle' button and choose 'View all', which is a needless hoop to jump through. What's more, while file format support is exemplary, the Slim sometimes won't play files, such as MPEG4 movies, even though they are displayed in the list of supported files. The lack of H.264 support is disappointing, too.
However, the versatility and power of the PS3 Slim is astounding: you can even upgrade it with accessories such as a wireless keyboard, webcam and Blu-ray remote control (the latter costs £15 including VAT from www.play.com). If you just want to play Blu-ray films, our Budget Buy LG BD370 will suffice, but for a comprehensive entertainment device, the PS3 Slim is hard to beat. It wins our Best Buy award.
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