pse slim

Once you get over the new-look design, and despite the slimmer, more power-efficient innards, the PS3 is still essentially the same beast.

Once you've turned it on, the differences end. The interface is the same. The controller is the same – although you do get a DualShock 3 controller instead of standard SIXAXIS – and the user experience is the same.

We did some very basic real-world benching and found that the PS3 Slim does actually boot a couple of seconds slower than our original 60GB PS3, although in practise that makes zero difference. The time it takes to load games and play DVDs are exactly the same.

Fan

One of the main gains you'd expect from a more power efficient PS3 would be that it would operate a lot more quietly. After all, with less energy being wasted as heat, the fan doesn't need to work so hard and thus pumps out less irritating white noise.

While we didn't measure the exact volume of the PS3 Slim's 17-blade fan, 95mm fan, it did seem to our trained ears to be slightly quieter when playing games. However – the PS3 has always been pretty quiet. Compared to the Xbox 360, the PS3 can be considered an extremely stealthy console.

The main noise actually comes from the disc drive. When you're watching a DVD, the spinning disc makes a lot more noise than the cooling fan. And this hasn't changed much – if at all. It's still loud enough to be annoying during those quieter scenes.

Home cinema

Of course, as before, the PS3's major trump card is its built-in Blu-ray drive which gives you the power to play back Blu-ray movies in glorious full HD 1080p.

The major new home cinema feature inside the PS3 Slim's new components, though, is its ability to bitstream Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio to a receiver over HDMI. This will seriously please the audiophiles, but for the rest of us it'll make almost no difference at all.

One slight disappointment with the PS3 Slim is its performance as a CD player. The original was a pretty decent CD and DVD spinner – but the Slim's thinner Blu-ray drive has proven to be a bit of a let-down.

Our colleagues at Home Cinema Choice actually measured the audio jitter of the slim – which returned a figure of over 460ps – a world apart from the original PS3's 138ps.

The audio in DVD playback was also disappointing from a perfectionist's point of view – with a measured high frequency response of -6.14dB. Will you notice this if you haven't got a top of the range hi-fi set up and a perfect set of ears? Probably not.

Still, though, the PS3's ability to upscale DVDs remains. The console uses its Cell processor to upscale DVDs to 1080p high definition, so even your DVD movies will look fantastic on an HD display. The Cell's enormous processing power can also be used to clean up fuzzy, blocky or grainy parts in DVDs or downloaded movie files.