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Sony PlayStation 5 'Slim' impressions: Still a great console but not the PS5 upgrade you're looking for

Sony PlayStation 5 'Slim' impressions: Still a great console but not the PS5 upgrade you're looking for

If you already own the original PlayStation 5, there's no compelling reason to upgrade to the 'Slim' version this time.

The new PlayStation 5 consoles, aka the 'Slim' models, go on sale today.

Starting from the very first PlayStation One, I've come to appreciate Sony's penchant for revamping their consoles. The charm of these slimmed-down versions has always struck a chord with me. However, with the introduction of the new PlayStation 5 ‘Slim’ and its Digital Edition, priced at S$799 and S$669 respectively, I'm afraid my affection for Sony's sleeker consoles may have changed with this generation.

The original PS5, with its white-and-black monolith design, was a behemoth – whether it’s on your TV console or gaming desk. It had a presence that one tolerated rather than truly embraced. So, the idea of Sony giving the PS5 a much-needed aesthetic overhaul seemed like an obvious win. However, the result is a series of what I thought were half-hearted changes that feel more like missed opportunities.

From left to right: PlayStation 5 'Slim' Digital Edition, PlayStation 5 'Slim', and the original PlayStation 5

Let's talk size. Sony claims the new PS5 is over 30% smaller in volume. At first glance, this seems impressive, but the reality is a bit more nuanced. The console's size still leaves an imposing footprint. Its swooping curves and contours left me constantly changing my opinion of the design, depending on the angle I’m looking at it from (I decided that it looks best for me when laying horizontally and at an angle where I can see more of either side). Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but I thought the design is busy, bordering on fussy, and frankly, lacking the simplicity from past PlayStation Slim models – such as the really good-looking PS2 Slim and PS4 Slim.

The slim version does improve on its predecessor's aesthetics with shorter white covers and a more defined top curve. The panel lines, dividing shiny and matte finishes, add a touch of refinement. But then, there are baffling choices. The disc drive protrudes more awkwardly, even more so than the original PS5 (see the photo above for comparison). In this regard, the Digital Edition actually looks really like the ‘true’ Slim successor. I also wished Sony had bundled the vertical stand, rather than selling it as a separate accessory for S$44.90.

The vertical stand should have been a part of the console purchase, not a separate accessory, in my opinion.

Now, if you recall, the PlayStation 5 was launched for S$729 back in 2020 and the Digital Edition for S$599 and Sony Singapore subsequently pushing up the price to today’s S$799 during the Covid years. Consider this: Past PS Slim consoles have typically sold for less than their original model in Singapore, such as the PS4 Slim that was launched at S$499 (versus the original PlayStation 4’s S$639). Buckling the trend, the PS5 Slim with disc drive now costs S$70 more at launch than the original PS5 in Singapore. Sony could argue that components and the supply chain in a post-Covid era are key reasons for this price increase, but the key specifications of the new PS5 consoles such as the CPU and GPU have remained unchanged from the original PS5, and the cost of these parts typically diminish over time. This, while taking away the vertical stand and making you pay for it, doesn’t quite sit right with me.

Storage-wise, the new PS5 offers a 1TB built-in capacity (with 848GB of usable storage), a modest increase from the original's usable 825GB (with 667GB of usable storage). The front-facing ports now include two USB-C connections, replacing the previous USB-C and USB-A configuration. This is a welcome update, though hardly groundbreaking.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray removable disc drive is an interesting addition. It's user-friendly, requiring no tools to attach or detach, but it raises the question of necessity. Buying the drive separately for the Digital Edition, priced at S$159, ultimately costs more. It’s worth noting though, that the internet requirement for setting up the disc drive can feel like an annoyance for some: you can’t set it up without an internet connection (however unlikely that is in Singapore) and If you don’t register the disc drive, it won’t function at all.

The new PlayStation 5 Digital Edition (right) feels more like the true 'Slim' version.

The PS5 Slim's design quirks (to me, at least) and the disc drive's peculiarities paint it as a confusing update in Sony's PS5 console lineup. It's smaller and has a slightly better storage capacity, but these changes seem to benefit Sony more than the consumer, especially with the push towards additional accessory purchases while retaining the same SRP price as the original console. For those owning the original PS5, there's really little to no incentive to upgrade. New buyers might even find the original 'pfat' PS5 a better value option (check out Lazada or Shopee for promotions by retailers), at least until the slim becomes the default choice – and hopefully with a price drop.

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