Sony must have Steinway envy. The original PS3 video game system was finished in a glossy black that oozed high end appeal. Maybe it even helped some buyers overlook the market leading, premium price tag. Or not. Because now Sony has slashed their video game system in a bid to take market share from stalwart’s Microsoft (XBOX 360) and Nintendo (Wii).

Sony must have also, finally, been listening to its legions of PS3 design critics. It’s too big, where do I insert the Betamax tape?! It’s louder than my lawn mower! It’s sucking the life force out of our utility company and my wallet!

The revised PS3, launching tomorrow, has been on a diet. Its also lost its glossy black bling finish (and the fingerprints it so loves). This new guy is less showy, and more about internal improvements. The introspective Ps3.

It’s a bit like the old, new Oprah: 33% slimmer, 36% lighter.

Almost all the changes are for the better: smaller, more energy efficient, HDMI 1.3, cooler, quieter and less expensive. But there are a few losses along the way, namely backwards compatibility with the gigantic pS2 game library (of course, this is only an issue if you have the older games), a dedicated on/off switch (useful for those with children), and the aforementioned glossy finish which some loved.

At the new price of only $299, this new slim PS3 is an attractive proposition, especially since it’s one of the best Blu-ray players on the market as well as a great game system.

Original PS3 (left) and new Slim $299 PS3

Also, I can attest to the fact that the Sony PS3 makes for a powerful media hub. You can use it to perform all sorts of entertainment duties that the family will enjoy. The built-in browser is handy for web surfing. Just add a bluetooth keyboard and it’s like having a computer hooked up to your television that the whole family can share. A variety of media software server options (such as TVersity and PlayOn) provide extensive programming that can be streamed over the Internet directly to the PS3. You can also view photos from your server, stream music and watch your own videos stored on a local PC.

It should be noted, the Microsoft XBOX360 can do all these things too, and, some argue, offers a stronger game library—but that gets into fanboy debates that are winless, and endless. I believe the Nintendo Wii still has the edge with children and its innovative motion sensing games. But hardcore gamers and advanced enthusiasts should opt for, my choice, the Sony PlayStation3, now super slim.

Highly recommended.

WHAT: Sony PS3 Slim
WHAT’S NEW: slimmer design, more energy efficient, cooler and quieter operation, lower price

Clinton shoots videos for Stark Insider. San Francisco Bay Area arts, Ingmar Bergman and French New Wave, and chasing the perfect home espresso shot 25 seconds at a time (and failing). Peloton: ClintTheMint. Camera: Video Gear