Xmas Aftermath: My PS3 Slim Micro-Review

PS3 Slim Review, Four Days In

So, for Christmas this year (my favorite Consumerist holiday; go Commercialism!) I was fortunate enough to receive a brand new PS3 Slim console, with a 120GB hard drive. I’d been looking forward to it for a month (we actually got it on Black Friday, but figured since it was an expensivish item close to the holidays we’d make it a gift), so I was excited when, late on Christmas Eve, I finally got permission to open it up. The experience was cool at first (is opening up a new gadget ever not fun?), but quickly took a dive into frustration before it finally emerged to become cool again. Here are my thoughts:

Little Big Planet is awesome. Blows away almost every other game this gen, especially the “realistic” garbage! BRILLIANT art design!

Metal Gear Solid 4 looks pretty good, but certainly no better than games like Modern Warfare 2 or Gears of War 2. This is one of those games that was supposed to be a “360 can’t do this” example but, ummm…it’s not. Controls sucked at first, but I got used to them after an hour or so and then it became fun. The Cinematography and voice acting are phenomenal.

God of War Collection kicks ass. Looks very nice. Clearly still just an upscaled PS2 game, but the filtering and other enhancements make it passable, like a first gen PS3 or 360 title almost. Still a great game!

PS3 itself-is not a consumer friendly product at all. Out of the box I had to manually enable Optical audio out (connecting an HDMI cable automatically disables all other audio output. Why? Silly!), then find out which codecs my Onkyo 6.1 receiver supported and manually enable those before it would work. The download of the firmware update was fast (5 minutes) but the install was ridiculously long (literally, 30+ minutes. WTF?). Software updates to games are unbelievably slow. 2 hours to update MGS4 so I could play it, 20 minutes to update LBP. Mind you, I’m on a 10MB Fiber connection, and the downloads were speedy enough, it’s the installation process that’s slow, which is systemic. Four other friends have told me that’s the way theirs are as well. Why is it so mind numbingly slow? The biggest thing I have to say in my PS3 slim review is that the download and install speed is SLOW.

Installing demos after download is lame and varies wildly. Fairytale Fights took about 30 seconds, Ghostbusters about 5 MINUTES. Why do these need to be “installed” at all?

DVD playback is gorgeous. Easily the best upscaling dvd player I’ve ever seen, not even a question. It’s dvd upscaling playback capability pisses all over the 360’s, and to my surprise even passed up my dedicated DVD player’s upscaling. Nice indeed. I haven’t played or bought any bluray movies, but I don’t really care, either, as I don’t think most movies are worth paying double or more. The only way I’d buy the bluray version over the DVD version is if they were the same exact price, maybe a dollar more. With the upscaling, though, I don’t think I’ll have a need in most cases anyway. Visual Effects heavy epics might be an exception on occasion, but again, only if the cost is comparable to the cost of a DVD.

Audio output is phenomenal-easily better than 360’s, especially on DVD’s. Star Trek sounds and looks better than ever when played on the PS3.

The lack of an IR port for the universal remotes is lame, as the selection of Bluetooth capable remotes is simply awful. The dedicated PS3 dvd remote is garbage, useful for absolutely nothing but the PS3, as it has no IR port for compatibility with other devices, making it essentially useless. I’ll just keep using the controller, I guess, but in my view, Sony really missed the boat on either a)putting an IR port on the PS3 itself, or b) adding IR capability to the official remote so you could use it as a universal. Remotes that only control one device are so…1980’s.

I love the design of the slim. It’s sexy, relatively small (compared to the phat) and has a nice finish instead of that “ghetto fabulous” gloss crap on the old model. I’m still not sold on the controller, because even though it’s dual shock 3 it still feels a little too light and flimsy compared to the solid heft of a 360 controller. It’s also not nearly as ergonomic or comfortable, but then, we’ve been dealing with the exact same controller shape since 1995. Sigh.

All in all, I really like the system. The games, of course, look about the same as 360 games, but the audio is better on movies (and I’m using an optical connector on both). It doesn’t do streaming as well as the 360 does (for some reason the PS3 stutters video from Hulu, streamed via PlayOn media server, while the 360 does not, from the same server. Errors in the server event log indicate that PS3 doesn’t handle the DLNA implementation correctly, which is probably why. Hopefully it gets fixed in a firmware update).

I love that I can stream stuff from the PS3 to the PSP, I just wish the PSP had a more reliable battery. Even my double capacity battery only lasts about 3 hours with wifi enabled. So far the functionality of streaming to PSP from a remote location over the internet is spotty-sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, which is a bit of a drag, but to be expected.

Anyway, I’m glad to add the system and a few games to my library. So far I have MGS4, LBP, Warhawk and GoW Collection. I plan to snag Motorstorm next week, since GameStop has it for $9.99 used, and it seems like a nice HD Excite Truck type game, so hopefully I’ll enjoy it.  Hopefully soon I’ll have a full PS3 slim review for y’all, but for now I’m going to go play some games!

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