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A Late Adopter's Guide To The PlayStation 3

Some gamers don’t adopt new hardware when it first becomes available. There can be a lot of advantages to waiting to buy a new console. Not only is the hardware cheaper, but there is a greater wealth of content to explore. Sony’s PlayStation 3 doesn’t just play games; this entertainment system will let you play DVDs, CDs, Blu-rays, and stream a variety of content from the Internet through portals such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Pandora. If you spent the last eight years with another console or are new to gaming, here is everything you need to know to become an expert with the PlayStation 3.

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SYSTEM

Which Model Should I Get?
Historically, if you wanted a console, there were usually one or two versions to get, and the updated models rarely functioned any differently than previous entries. However, the choice of a console model has gotten a lot more complicated over the years. Deciding which model to purchase depends on which one you want to hunt down, how much hard-drive space you think you need for downloading games and DLC, and how much you care about PS2 backward compatibility. Newer models generally have larger hard drives, but older models feature unique backward compatibly for PS2 games. Bear in mind, you can always upgrade the size of your hard drive, regardless of what model you buy. Here’s a breakdown of the many different PlayStation 3 versions.

  • Original Model – This is the first model that Sony released in November 2006. They released versions that included various hard-drives sizes, including: 20, 40, 60, 80, and 160GB versions.
  • Slim Model – In September 2009, Sony started releasing this slim model, which has a case that's 32 percent smaller than its predecessor, 36 percent lighter, and consumes about a third less power. You can choose between 120, 160, 250, and 320GB versions of this model, but the Slim only supports PSone emulation.
  • Super Slim model – In September 2012, Sony released this version of the PS3, which was roughly 25 percent smaller and about 20 percent lighter than the first Slim model. The Super Slim also features a sliding disc cover rather than the slot-loading drive found on previous PlayStation 3 consoles. You can find 250 and 500GB versions of this system on the market. This is the only model currently sold in traditional retail stores. Like the original Slim model, the Super Slim only supports PSone emulation.

What If I Really Care About Backward Compatibility?
All PS3 models are backward compatible with PSone games. However, only the original model features backward compatibility with PS2 games. Even then, most original models are only backward compatible via software emulation, meaning that not every PS2 game is supported. However, the original 60GB version features internal hardware that allows it to run nearly every PS2 game without a hiccup, so if you’re really interested in backward compatibility, that is the version to hunt down.

Model numbers can be used to determine if a PS3 is backward compatible. These numbers are found on the bar-code sticker on the back of the console right after the serial number.

  • 60GB model numbers that begin with CECH-Axx are fully backward compatible.
  • 20GB models that begin with CECH-Bxx, 60GB models that begin with CECH-Cxx, and 80GB models that begin with CECH-Exx are backward compatible via software emulation.
  • Original models that include G, J, K, L, M, P, and Q in the model number are not backward compatible with PS2 games but are compatible with PSone games.
  • None of the Slim or Super Slim models are backward compatible with PS2 games but are compatible with PSone games.

How Much Does A PS3 Cost These Days?
The PlayStation 3 Super Slim model is the only model you can find new these days, and the 12GB version generally retails for $199, but you can also find various older models that are used and refurbished for around $200.

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