My refurbished 60GB PlayStation 3 died on February 2nd with a yellow light of death, just as my first one did in May 2009. I had seen a small number of identical graphical problems leading up to this unit's death -- not many and not as frequent or drastic as my original unit did, but I hadn't been playing my PS3 as extensively or for as long a period as I was a couple of years ago due to real-life distractions and other gaming opportunities. This lends credence to my suspicions that the first few generation of non-Slim PS3's suffer from a tendency to collapse under design and/or manufacturing flaws under heavy use. Looking back on that article I can see that new PS3 lasted through just two years of heavy use.
What kind of graphical glitches? In Saints Row 3 I had seen occasional instances of the very brief white texture flashes as I had seen on Unreal Tournament III back in the day. The Kingdoms of Amalur demo showed some very serious problems, perhaps because I played it for so long in one sitting. I saw ground textures becoming pools of smeared pixels and I also saw the distinctive problem of geometry spikes on character or enemy models once or twice. These spikes told me something was definitely wrong, and I mentioned as much to my wife to prepare her for the eventual end of life of the system.
My family has become heavily dependent on the PS3 as our only DVD player, our only Blu-ray player, and one of the two Netflix streaming devices connected to a big screen for the family to enjoy. Getting a replacement unit was a matter of "when" and not "if". The next question -- whether to buy a new one at retail or a refurbished unit via the Sony repair process -- was something I quickly put to rest. I wanted the newest, coolest-running, less power hungry model of PS3 and I didn't want a refurbished machine someone else had possibly abused or mistreated. Given that I never used the PS2 playback capabilities of this second system during the two and a half years of life in my house I had no desire to bring in yet another 60GB refurbished model.
You Take The Good
We purchased a brand new PS3 slim 320GB bundle with Uncharted 3 -- paying $50 more for double the drive space and Uncharted 3 is a good deal for me since I'll use both -- and got very fast delivery from an online vendor. The new unit arrived the next day and both looks and feels tiny compared to the old one. It runs incredibly quietly and doesn't even seem to need a fan when not playing a game or streaming media. I've read the slim models use a lot less power than the older ones but I haven't yet measured it with my power meter to be sure. Graphically things like Saints Row 3 seem to be running better on the new GPU, and overall I'm very happy with the new Slim unit. It's giving me a lot of confidence that it will be around a long time due to less heat, less power consumption, and overall the sense, however, deceptive, that there are fewer moving parts to break. This summer will be an important test as my living room isn't heavily air conditioned.
And You Take The Bad
I do have a two quibbles with the machine, but only one is not fixable. The power light is now facing up instead of facing front on the unit, preventing me from seeing if it is on or off unless I am nearby and standing over the console. This sounds minor, but it runs so quietly that when my family leaves it running with the TV off I can't tell unless I walk up to it and look. Other quibbles include that the power cable has gone from a 3-prong cable to a 2-prong cable and is also significantly shorter. It's well known the Slims only have two USB ports instead of four, and that is an irritation because I like to keep my PS Eye, USB headset, and wireless dongle that transmits to my Logitech MediaBoard keyboard all plugged in at the same time.
Reloading everything from the PlayStation Store took several hours of queuing up, and even more time starting up and patching disc games. I opted not to move the 500GB drive over from my dead machine into this one since I'd seen some slight hitching issues when games needed to hit the hard drive on that model, and it took some time to locate the original 60GB drive for it. I would have liked to have figured out if the hitching or very slight pausing I was seeing when accessing the drive would have continued on this model, but the 320GB of storage is so far just fine for me. I don't have any history of loading my own movies or pictures onto it.
The Old Gray Lady
What will become of the 60GB PS3? I spoke with Sony and assuming the system continues to fail to start with the three beeps and flash of a yellow LED, I will have two refurbished PS3 options. The first is paying $129 for a refurbished 60GB PS3, and the second is paying $99 for a refurbished 160GB PS3 Slim. Both refurbished models would sport only a 90-day warranty.
Given the expense of the new unit, and no crying need for another PS3 given that there are no other HD screens available in the house to connect it to, there is resistance from the budgetary committee to spending any more money to get this system running. In my view, $99 for a refurbished Slim is a steal, and it's enough to make me want to pick up a screen to go with it to set up in another room to at least work as a media streamer as well as Blu-ray player, DVD player, and gaming haven when the main TV is taken up by, say, a Netflix watcher. No decision has been made yet, but I'll post again once we do decide.