Not long ago Sony unveiled a cheap new PS3 for sale in Europe and Japan. The device did away with backward compatibility -- that is, it didn't play PS2 games -- and came with a smaller hard drive and fewer USB ports than available in the full-size model. But it fixed the biggest problem with the PlayStation 3 -- its high price. Now Sony says that starting Nov. 2, the same model will be available stateside for $399.
The specs: two USB ports, a 40GB hard drive, no PS2 game-playing. This compares favorably with the 80GB PS3, which has four USB ports and backward compatibility, but which will set you back $100 more, at $499. (It used to be $599; Sony, smartly, cut that price too.)
And as PC World's Matt Peckham points out, the cheap new PS3 also compares favorably to the XBox 360, whose standard model -- the Premium -- sells for $349.
For just $50 more, the PS3 gives you a bigger hard drive than the XBox 360, built-in Wi-Fi (a $100 add-on for the XBox), free online multiplayer options ($50 per year on the XBox), and a high-definition DVD player (the PS3 comes with a Blu-Ray disc player; an HD-DVD player for the XBox costs $180 more).
This column -- and, well, everybody else -- has never been very kind to Sony's PS3 effort. It's always looked way overpriced. And it may still be, considering that XBox has the edge in games (no "Halo 3" for PS3). But Sony's finally coming about. Could this holiday season put it on track to glory?