In a move set to shake things up in the ongoing gaming console war, Sony has unveiled the overhauled Playstation 3. Dubbed the PS3 Slim, the unit features a revised cell processor, 120GB hard drive and is smaller, lighter and – yes – cheaper than its predecessor.

With rival Microsoft's Xbox outselling the Playstation 3, Sony have implemented several changes in a bid to close the gap and return to their glory days as leader of the pack. The new console is around a third smaller and lighter, and is also quieter - thanks largely to a Cell processor using the 45 nanometer manufacturing process (as opposed to the previous 65nm Cell). The smaller Cell is said to generate around 15% less fan noise, and is cooler, with around 30% less energy consumption.

The PS3 Slim’s integrated 120GB storage capacity virtually ensures relevance for years to come even if downloadable high definition content becomes available. The console continues to feature Wi-Fi connectivity as well as a Blu-ray player, with Bravia television owners sure to appreciate the Bravia Sync feature, whereby their existing remotes can be used to navigate the system in place of the expensive and awkward PS3 Blu-ray version. An additional system “standby function” will shut down the PS3 Slim when the Bravia TV is switched off.

While removing the option to install an alternative operating system like Linux may disappoint some, Sony looks to be focusing on increasing the PS3’s accessibility to the wider population of gamers. With a reported Wii-esque motion sensitive wand in the works, the emphasis looks to be on appealing to the casual gamer as well as the fanatic.

Sony have simplified the branding, doing away with the Spiderman-type logo of the Playstation 3, opting instead to emboss a simple “PS3” on the console front. The casing has also reverted from glossy to the more traditional black matte finish.

Lower production costs have seen the price for the PS3 Slim, on sale September 1st, reduced to US$299. With this lower price point potentially making the unit a viable option to those previously deterred by higher cost, and with Micrsoft's Xbox expected to make a similar move, will it be “game on” once more?

Check out the Playstation website for a closer look.

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