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Sony’s John Koller Answers Questions About PS3 Slim

Speaking to Arstechnica, Sony’s John Koller confirms you can remove and upgrade the HDD in the PS3 Slim and that backwards compatibility will not be re-appearing in any future PS3 models. There also won’t be an external power brick with the system, although there still seems to be some confusion over this. Read the full Q&A below:

Is this the standard system moving forward?

“This will be the hardware moving forward,” Koller told Ars. “Right now with the 80GB we’re selling down inventory, and this will replace that model.” The 160GB system was always intended to be a limited-time deal. And if you want to buy right now, go ahead—Koller told us the price drop on systems on the store shelves now is effective immediately. We went to the phones to check on that, and most GameStops in our area were not aware there was a price drop in place.

The point is made, though. This isn’t a slimmed-down model, or something that is going to be sitting next to the older systems for long. This is the new face of the PS3, and will soon be the only hardware configuration available at retail.

Can you still upgrade the hard drive?

“Yes, you can. It does not void your warranty. In fact, we encourage it,” Koller told us. He explained that the drive is now located on the front of the system, not the side, and changing out your hard drive will still be easy. “It’s a two-screw process,” he explained.

Don’t worry about being stuck with “just” an 80GB hard drive. The ability to install your own hard drive is still there, and Koller seemed enthusiastic about people modifying their systems in this way.

Will there be a power brick?

“This is a new power cable; it uses a third less power.” Koller answered. He then listed the three big changes made to the hardware: the power consumption has been decreased, the cooling system has been redesigned, and the Cell processor has moved from a 65nm process to a 45nm process.

He also told us that there will be a power brick, although we can expect it to be small. He laughs when I ask about the power brick’s size in relation to the 360’s power supply. “It’s nothing like that,” he assured Ars. There will also no longer be a power button on the back of the hardware; it has instead been moved to the front. [Update: after watching a few unboxing videos, it actually doesn’t look like they’ll be a power brick. There must have been some confusion on this question.]

Why was the ability to install Linux removed from the system?

“There are a couple of reasons. We felt we wanted to move forward with the OS we have now. If anyone wants to use previous models and change the OS, they can do so.” Koller said. “We wanted to standardize our OS.”

Do we need to stop yapping about backwards compatibility?

“It’s not coming back, so let me put that on the table,” Koller says with an air of finality. But it’s all people ever talk about!
“It’s not as big as a purchase intent driver as you may be hearing,” he claimed. “We’ve got such a substantial lineup of titles on the PS3; most people are buying the PS3 for PS3 games. They’ve buying it for PS3 games and Blu-ray movies.”

“That won’t be returning,” he repeats.

How many logos does one system need?

There is the multicolored logo that has been with the PlayStation since the first system, the logo that even Koller referred to as the “Spider-Man Logo,” and the new PS3 logo seen on the top of the new system. So which one should we be paying attention to?

“We’re in the process of replacing the Spider-Man font to the PS3 logo. [The new design] will be the logo moving forward, that will be in place on the hardware and peripherals and software, starting with Uncharted 2.”

The older PS logo on the front of the system has been changed from the multicolored design to silver. Koller says that decision was made to standardize the logo across all the territories the PS3 is sold.

Will Kmart be punished?

Koller laughs at the question. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” he said. “We value all our retail partners. They just got a little excited.”

Sony is likewise clearly excited about the new design of the system and the price drop. “We expect a material and substantial increase in sales and purchase intent,” Koller told us. Is a $300 system with a smaller design enough to get gamers excited about the PS3? We’ll see, starting in September.

I disagree with him stating backwards compatibility isn’t a big “purchase intent driver” for gamers. A lot of people are seemingly holding out on buying a PS3 because of the lack of backwards compatibility with PS2 games. We’ll see if the price cut on current models and the new PS3 Slim will increase sales on a regular basis, rather than producing a short term spike in sales. I’m hoping for the former…

Sony’s John Koller Talks PS3 Slim with Arstechnica