Review: PS3 Slim's home cinema capabilities
28th Aug 2009 | 10:23
"Both better and worse than the original," says AV expert
While the jury is still out on the PS3 Slim's capability as a games console, Home Cinema Choice magazine has published its first look review, analysing the home cinema capabilities of Sony's new machine.
It is a timely review, seeing as the previous model of the PS3 has been, as HCC Editor Steve May reminds us "far and away the most popular Blu-ray player on the planet" with its "rich combination of talents [making it] a well-deserved market leader."
So does the AV performance of the new PS3 Slim mean that Sony's new 'does it all' console can still seriously compete against the growing number of dedicated sub-£300 Blu-ray players on the shelf?
A world apart
HCC notes that comparing "the new PS3 to the original is akin to comparing a laptop to a desktop PC… It's a world apart."
May is also a fan of the new PS3 Slim's press-able Power On and Disc Eject buttons, which he notes are "way better than the infuriating soft-touch 'buttons' on the original machine."
As for the ambient noise emitting from the PS3 Slim when playing a Blu-ray, May notes that the PS3 Slim, "at least initially, is quieter still" although adds that "heat builds up quickly during use and the fan noise accelerates accordingly."
He continues: "Midway through X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I noted that the console was disgorging a lot of heat through its rear vents, and at that point, in terms of fan noise it did not seem to be an improvement on what's gone before. The huge 95mm,17-blade fan beneath the hood clearly has its work cut out..."
Also, worryingly, in terms of overall AV performance, HCC notes that: "while the console can spin CDs, it's no replacement for a CD player. The original was actually surprisingly good in this regard, delivering only 137.9ps of measured audio jitter; it was let down mainly by issues relating to the cabinet and its rigidity.
"But with this iteration there's a notable increase in audio jitter, which is up to 461.7ps. And as a DVD player it's poor, with a measured high frequency response of -6.14dB."
Significant tech ace
However, who is seriously going to use the PS3 Slim as a CD player? Not many, TechRadar suspects.
On a far more positive note, HCC notes that the PS3 Slim "has a more significant tech ace up its sleeve" in that, "unlike the original PS3, which decoded high-res soundtracks to linear PCM, you can now bitstream out Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio to a waiting receiver over HDMI."
What does that mean? Simply that the "sonic quality of your PS3-based system is dictated not by the games machine itself but by the DACs and electronics in your AV receiver" which HCC clearly sees as a "welcome refinement and one that puts the console on par with current standalone players."
So, despite a few compatibility and "HDMI handshaking" issues with various high-end AV systems, it seems that the audio experience from the PS3 Slim is notably improved (providing, of course, that you have a decent AV set-up in the first place, or are perhaps considering investing in one).
Overall, HCC is confident that "there's little doubt that the PS3 Slim is destined to re-energize Sony's PlayStation brand. It's priced right, looks great and performs well. In this regard, Sony has got its game groove back."