Sony’s new PS3 Slim outputs bitstream audio
By now you’ve probably heard Sony’s announcement of the new PlayStation 3 Slim. The new video entertainment console is almost 40% smaller than the previous model, has all the same features, and includes a larger hard drive. But there’s one more feature it has that previous versions did not have: the ability to output high-definition audio codecs bitstream via the HDMI 1.3 multimedia port.
While the debate continues about the merits of decoding the audio in the receiver versus in the player, this news at least allows all parties to be happy. The facts remain, however, that if you want to hear menu sounds and commentary tracks, you will need to decode in the player. The PlayStation 3 is fully capable of decoding high definition 7.1 audio tracks and outputting via LPCM; some Blu-ray players (while making this claim) do not output full 7.1 LPCM audio.
Available in September, the PS3 Slim will sell for $299, which is $100 less than any previous PS3 system. This means the PlayStation 3 is now the same price as some of the entry-level Blu-ray Disc players, making it one of the better deals you will find for high-def video.
It is my opinion that the older versions will receive a software update allowing the same bitstream feature. Sony didn’t add a chipset just to include this feature, so I imagine a new software revision will become available about the same time as the Slim launches. It’s just a guess though, so don’t hold me to this.