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SCPH-70000

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Pop Quiz – Sony Computer Entertainment has shipped over 72 million systems worldwide and is ruling the videogame console industry with an iron fist, but wants to sell even more hardware units to crush and demoralize the competition. What should they do?

Answer: Release a smaller, more suave version of the same console just before the peak-selling holiday season. Bam! More units sold and more money for Sony. Brilliant!

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This new slimmer PS2 model being released by the shrewd folks at Sony (affectionately nicknamed model number SCPH-70000) is obviously a ploy to snatch even more money from the pockets of gamers across the globe, but is the system really any better than the original PS2? Should you pawn off your older system and upgrade to the new version? Are there any new features that you should be aware of when purchasing the new model? Am I really wearing G.I. Joe boxers right now? OK, forget that last oneÖ Thankfully, we at Thunderbolt have managed to get our grubby paws on one of these newfangled PS2 systems before the UK and US November 1st launch date (Nov. 3rd for Japan) and have poked, prodded and goosed the poor machine for hours straight in an effort to give you, our wonderful readers, nothing but the facts.

Fact # 1: Itís small!

Yup, real small. In fact, I could sit here and tell you things like the new PS2ís thickness has been trimmed down to a measly 2.8 cm (compared to the 7.8 thickness of the current model) and its internal volume has been reduced by over 75 percent, but those are just numbers. To truly appreciate how small the new PS2 model (henceforth referred to as the mini) really is you have to see it sitting next to a small hardback book, DVD case, graphic novel or some other similarly sized object, and realize, ìholy crap! This thing is actually dwarfed by the newest Harry Potter paperback!î

Part of the reason the mini is so small is because Sony made the AC adapter external by attaching it to the power cord (just like with the GameCube). Another change, and probably the biggest strike against the mini, is the internal hard disc drive (HDD) slot has been completely removed. This means that Final Fantasy XI and any future games that require HDD support cannot be played on the new system. This really shouldnít be a problem unless you are a diehard FFXI player, because itís the only game currently out that requires the HDD to play, but itís still a black mark nonetheless. It is possible that Sony is planning to release an external USB HDD to solve this problem, but thatís just a random flight of fancy on my part so donít count on it. The good news is that both modem and Ethernet ports are built right into the system, so youíll be able to take the mini online without the need of an adapter.

Fact # 2: Itís top-loading!

*crrrrrrruuuuuuuuuuuunnnnccccccchhhhhÖ.bzzzzzzzzÖgggggriiiiiiiinnnddÖ*

*muuuuunnch, munch, munchÖ.BELCH!*

*silence*

AhhÖ the lovely Grinding Tray of Death. — the moment in which your PS2 decides that youíve been playing entirely too many video games and punishes you by bringing the disc tray to a grinding halt, effectively swallowing the last game you had in the system. Iíve personally lost two consoles this way and know plenty of other people who have had this traumatizing event cause irreparable emotional scarring. Then, of course, there are the stories of little brothers and/or sisters using the tray as a drink holder, inserting a disc that isnít properly seated or accidentally breaking the tray off after itís been left ejected. Well, worry no more, because in a move of sheer brilliance by Sony, the new PS2 model is completely top-loading!

Yes, thatís right ñ just push the eject button and watch the lid rise gracefully open. No grinding, no crunching and no death. Sure, this new style means that you canít bury the mini under piles DVDs, games or anything else that would hinder access, but that nitpick is easily made up for by the fact that the new PS2 is much more reliable due to the less number of moving parts. Not only that, but the lack of a tray (and fan) makes the system almost completelyÖ

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Fact # 3: Silent!

Letís face it ñ the original PS2 isnít exactly quiet. Quite the contrary ñ itís damn loud. So loud, in fact, that Iíve actually had to turn up the volume on my stereo system just to drown out the relentless humming. Some PS2 systems even hum and vibrate so forcefully that itís surprising the whole console doesnít self-destruct after a few hours. The mini, however, is an entirely different story. Fire that baby up and you are greeted by nothing but the beautiful sound of silence. And Iím not talking about less buzzing and humming ñ Iím talking about a complete and utter lack of noise. When you actually put a disc in, you can hear some slight accessing sounds, but they are only noticeable if your head is right next to the machine.

Fact # 4: Looks like youíll be needing another Multitap then!

Besides the lack of HDD support, the mini is sounding pretty sweet huh? Well, here come a few gelatinous balls of mucus to gum up the works. First off, the mini is not compatible with current Multitaps, due to the indented nature of the systemís memory card slots. Now, before you get too panicked, Sony will be releasing a new ìmini compatibleî Multitap on November 16th (along with a new vertical stand), but that still means shelling out a significant amount of cash for another peripheral. Also, Sony has cryptically stated that some games may not work on the new system, but weíve tried both PSone and PS2 games (as well as DVD movies and CDs) and have yet to experience a single problem. Itís possible that Sony simply meant that games that require the HDD will not run on the mini, but they have yet to clarify this. Either way, the mini has played every game weíve fed it without hitch, but weíll certainly update this report if any incompatibilities are uncovered.

Fact # 5: MmmmmmÖ me likey 1-year warrantiesÖ

Sonyís a smart company. They knew that the original PS2 had its fair share of problems, so they only offered a 90-day warranty. That way when the system got hungry and ate someoneís favorite game a year after the purchase date, the only option was to buy another PS2 (or Xbox). With the mini, however, Sony is offering up a hefty 1-year warranty against all defects ñ an obvious indication of their confidence in the new systemís workmanship. So, not only you can buy the mini knowing that your investment will be safe for year, but you also have the assurance that Sony themselves believe the new version to be more reliable. Itís a win/win situation for you.

So there you have it ñ everything you could ever want to know about Sonyís slick new mini PS2. To make things even simpler for you, Iíll go back and answer all the questions I proposed back at the beginning of this little feature.

Is the system really any better than the original PS2?

Hell yes. Itís what the PS2 should have been in the first place.

Should you pawn off your older system and upgrade to the new version?

Absolutely. Itís smaller, quieter, sexier, far more reliable and has a whopping 1-year warranty to boot.

Are there any new features that you should be aware of when purchasing the new model?

Besides the built in modem and Ethernet ports, not really. Just keep in mind that the system is incompatible with Final Fantasy XI and needs the new style Multitap and youíre golden.

Am I really wearing G.I. Joe boxers right now?

UmmmmÖ yeahÖ *blushes*

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in May 2003. Get in touch on Twitter @Joshua_Luke.

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