During its early years, the system received a mixed reception, due to its high price ($599 for a 60-gigabyte model, $499 for a 20 GB model), a complex processor architecture, and lack of quality games but was praised for its Blu-ray capabilities and "untapped potential". The reception would get more positive over time. The system had a slow start in the market but managed to recover, particularly after the introduction of the Slim model. Its successor, the PlayStation 4, was released later in November 2013. On September 29, 2015, Sony confirmed that sales of the PlayStation 3 were to be discontinued in New Zealand, but the system remained in production in other markets. Shipments of new units to Europe and Australia ended in March 2016, followed by North America which ended in October 2016. Heading into 2017, Japan was the last territory where new units were still being produced until May 29, 2017, when Sony confirmed the PlayStation 3 was discontinued in Japan.
In September 2012 at the Tokyo Game Show, Sony announced that a new, slimmer PS3 redesign (CECH-4000) was due for release in late 2012 and that it would be available with either a 250 GB or 500 GB hard drive. Three versions of the Super Slim model were revealed: one with a 500 GB hard drive, a second with a 250 GB hard drive which was not available in PAL regions, and a third with a 12 GB flash storage that was available in PAL regions, and in Canada. The storage of 12 GB model was upgradable with an official standalone 250 GB hard drive, and a vertical stand was also released for the model. In the United Kingdom, the 500 GB model was released on September 28, 2012; and the 12 GB model was released on October 12, 2012. In the United States, the PS3 Super Slim was first released as a bundled console. The 250 GB model was bundled with the Game of the Year edition of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and released on September 25, 2012; and the 500 GB model was bundled with Assassin's Creed III and released on October 30, 2012. In Japan, the black colored Super Slim model was released on October 4, 2012; and the white colored Super Slim model was released on November 22, 2012. The Super Slim model is 20 percent smaller and 25 percent lighter than the Slim model and features a manual sliding disc cover instead of a motorized slot-loading disc cover of the Slim model. The white colored Super Slim model was released in the United States on January 27, 2013, as part of the Instant Game Collection Bundle. The Garnet Red and Azurite Blue colored models were launched in Japan on February 28, 2013. The Garnet Red version was released in North America on March 12, 2013, as part of the God of War: Ascension bundle with 500 GB storage and contained God of War: Ascension as well as the God of War Saga. The Azurite Blue model was released on October 8, 2013, as a GameStop exclusive with 250 GB storage.
PlayStation 3 uses the Cell microprocessor, designed by Sony, Toshiba and IBM, as its CPU, which is made up of one 3.2 GHz PowerPC-based "Power Processing Element" (PPE) and eight Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs).To increase yields and reduce costs, the chip has 8 SPEs. After manufacture, every chip is tested and a defective SPE disconnected using laser trimming, leaving 7 SPEs. This means that otherwise discarded processors can be used, reducing costs and waste. Only six of the seven SPEs are accessible to developers as the seventh SPE is reserved by the console's operating system. Graphics processing is handled by the Nvidia RSX 'Reality Synthesizer', which can produce resolutions from 480i/576i SD up to 1080p HD. PlayStation 3 has 256 MB of XDR DRAM main memory and 256 MB of GDDR3 video memory for the RSX. Originally, Sony did not plan to include any GPU in the PlayStation 3, because they thought that the Cell could handle everything, but the developers, including the ICE team from Naughty Dog, demonstrated to Sony that without a dedicated GPU, the PlayStation 3 performance would not be sufficient, particularly in comparison to the Xbox 360. Sony henced added a GPU, the Nvidia RSX, at the final stage of the PlayStation 3 development.
The standard PlayStation 3 version of the XrossMediaBar (pronounced "Cross Media Bar" and abbreviated XMB) includes nine categories of options. These are: Users, Settings, Photo, Music, Video, TV/Video Services, Game, Network, PlayStation Network and Friends (similar to the PlayStation Portable media bar). TheTV/Video Services category is for services like Netflix and/or if PlayTV or torne is installed; the first category in this section is "My Channels", which lets users download various streaming services, including Sony's own streaming services Crackle and PlayStation Vue. By default, the What's New section of PlayStation Network is displayed when the system starts up. PS3 includes the ability to store various master and secondary user profiles, manage and explore photos with or without a musical slide show, play music and copy audio CD tracks to an attached data storage device, play movies and video files from the hard disk drive, an optical disc (Blu-ray Disc or DVD-Video) or an optional USB mass storage or Flash card, compatibility for a USB keyboard and mouse and a web browser supporting compatible-file download function. Additionally, UPnP media will appear in the respective audio/video/photo categories if a compatible media server or DLNA server is detected on the local network. The Friends menu allows mail with emoticon and attached picture features and video chat which requires an optional PlayStation Eye or EyeToy webcam. The Network menu allows online shopping through the PlayStation Store and connectivity to PlayStation Portable via Remote Play.
Since June 2009, VidZone has offered a free music video streaming service in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. In October 2009, Sony Computer Entertainment and Netflix announced that the Netflix streaming service would also be available on PlayStation 3 in the United States. A paid Netflix subscription was required for the service. The service became available in November 2009. Initially users had to use a free Blu-ray disc to access the service; however, in October 2010 the requirement to use a disc to gain access was removed.
In November 2010, access to the video and social networking site MUBI was enabled for European, New Zealand, and Australian users; the service integrates elements of social networking with rental or subscription video streaming, allowing users to watch and discuss films with other users. Also in November 2010 the video rental service VUDU, NHL GameCenter Live, and subscription service Hulu Plus launched on PlayStation 3 in the United States.
The Super Slim model of PS3 has received positive reviews. Gaming website Spong praised the new Super Slim's quietness, stating "The most noticeable noise comes when the drive seeks a new area of the disc, such as when starting to load a game, and this occurs infrequently." They added that the fans are quieter than those of Slim, and went on to praise the new smaller, lighter size.Criticism was placed on the new disc loader, stating: "The cover can be moved by hand if you wish, there's also an eject button to do the work for you, but there is no software eject from the triangle button menus in the Xross Media Bar (XMB) interface. In addition, you have to close the cover by hand, which can be a bit fiddly if it's upright, and the PS3 won't start reading a disc unless you do [close the cover]." They also said there is no real drop in retail price.
Tech media website CNET gave new Super Slim 4 out of 5 stars ("Excellent"), saying "The Super Slim PlayStation 3 shrinks a powerful gaming machine into an even tinier package while maintaining the same features as its predecessors: a great gaming library and a strong array of streaming services [...]", whilst also criticising the "cheap" design and disc-loader, stating: "Sometimes [the cover] doesn't catch and you feel like you're using one of those old credit card imprinter machines. In short, it feels cheap. You don't realize how convenient autoloading disc trays are until they're gone. Whether it was to cut costs or save space, this move is ultimately a step back." The criticism also was due to price, stating the cheapest Super Slim model was still more expensive than the cheapest Slim model, and that the smaller size and bigger hard drive shouldn't be considered an upgrade when the hard drive on a Slim model is easily removed and replaced. They did praise that the hard drive of the Super Slim model is "the easiest yet. Simply sliding off the side panel reveals the drive bay, which can quickly be unscrewed." They also stated that whilst the Super Slim model is not in any way an upgrade, it could be an indicator as to what's to come. "It may not be revolutionary, but the Super Slim PS3 is the same impressive machine in a much smaller package. There doesn't seem to be any reason for existing PS3 owners to upgrade, but for the prospective PS3 buyer, the Super Slim is probably the way to go if you can deal with not having a slot-loading disc drive."
Technology magazine T3 gave the Super Slim model a positive review, stating the console is almost "nostalgic" in the design similarities to the original "fat" model, "While we don't know whether it will play PS3 games or Blu-ray discs any differently yet, the look and feel of the new PS3 Slim is an obvious homage to the original PS3, minus the considerable excess weight. Immediately we would be concerned about the durability of the top loading tray that feels like it could be yanked straight out off the console, but ultimately it all feels like Sony's nostalgic way of signing off the current-generation console in anticipation for the PS4." 2b1af7f3a8