So what do we make of the latest swirl of PlayStation rumours – namely, that Sony is said (buy various 'unnamed' or anonymous sources) to be preparing a slimmed down PlayStation 3 for release at some point later this year?

We asked a number of PlayStation magazine editors and games industry analysts for their own views on the matter.

"The PS3 Slim is a certainty," said PSM3 magazine editor, Dan Dawkins, in no uncertain terms.

Following the PS3 Slim rumours reaching fever pitch earlier this month, TechRadar cannot help but wonder if the PlayStation mag editor perhaps knows something that we don't?

"Given the similarity of the leaked packaging to the official PSP Go box, the PS2 Slim's historical precedent, plus the latest round of manufacturer gossip – but the July release date sounds dubious," Dawkins adds.

No BIG games this summer

Why so? Purely because, historically, few consoles (if any) have ever launched in mid-summer, a traditionally lean period for sales. And, Dawkins reminds us, "there's no BIG game to attach to it to."

"August rumours are more plausible, since they coincide with the Cologne Gamescon (19-23 August) - where an announcement could, but most likely won't be made - plus Batman: Arkham Asylum launches late August.

"I'd be looking at something closer to the Tokyo Game Show (24 Sep), where Sony are more likely to make a global announcement, so take your pick from: 1) PS3 Slim to launch late Sep/October, for about £230-£250, potentially bundled with Sony's major 2009 exclusive Uncharted 2, and/or 2) Existing PS3s to drop £50.

"The ideal scenario is a £199 PS3 of some description, but it may be a leap too far for Sony's financial model – but that's the level of cut Sony need to break the psychological sub £200 barrier, and finally make PS3 a mainstream proposition."

Historical PlayStation precedents

As for games industry analysts, Gamesinvestor.com's Nick Gibson reminded TechRadar: "Throughout both PS1 and PS2's lives there were regular re-workings of the hardware, mostly incorporating component consolidation to decrease manufacturing costs and increase production efficiency.

"In both cases, this got to a point where the hardware could fit into smaller form factors. PS3 has been no different; it has already undergone numerous revisions and there is no doubt a "slimline" version will be viable at some point."

Though Gibson refuses to be drawn on a possible release date, he adds: "whether it is released this year is certainly not impossible given how large the current unit is" though he thinks that "a price cut is more likely as the next major PS3 announcement, widely expected later this year.

"We believe that announcing both a price cut and a slimline version is unlikely. Both PS and PS2 slimline versions were launched with no price change so Sony clearly believes that the introduction of a reduced unit size alone is a sufficient sales incentive."

100 Euros price cut

The mooted release of the PS3 Slim ties in nicely with the same anniversary as the PS2 Slimline, as Nick Parker, analyst at Parker Consulting Ltd reminds us.

"It is the fourth anniversary of the launch of PS3, so the release of a PS3 Slim wouldn't be something we would all be very surprised at," adds Parker, noting that, "It will likely to be in late September or October time."

"A price drop would accompany a slimline version – last time there was a month's difference between the price drop and the release of the slimmed down PS2."

As for a price cut for the original model of the PS3, Parker notes: "We are quite confident that there will be a significant price drop – 100 Euros, not 50 Euros – and that a slimline version will be released

Finally, what of those rumours about a completely new and 'next gen' PlayStation?

"I really don't think Sony want to think about a next generation console yet. Their major aspirations and strategy relates to online and proliferating the network… it is about getting PSN out there."

New SKU, sir?

Piers Harding-Rolls, Screen Digest Senior Analyst and Head of Games is also in agreement with the expectation that a slim PS3 SKU is set to hit the market this year, "possibly at the same time as the PS3 price cut."

Harding-Rolls adds: "We are assuming a September price cut at this stage. Concerning a suggested earlier release date for the slim version, Sony will be building up sufficient inventory before any launch to cater for demand over the final quarter, so while the company may be building stocks from July, I feel it is unlikely it will be launched before September at the earliest.

"Concerning a next-gen console, while there is likely to be a new PS3 SKU incorporating the motion tracking controllers when the technology hits the market, I don't expect a completely new console release from Sony any time soon."

Elsewhere, while we await the official announcement of a PS3 price cut and a new slimmed down version of PlayStation 3, why not check out our recent guide to 'Ten PS3 tricks Sony doesn't tell you about'.