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Too many Playstation 3’s…which one to get?

The Playstation 3, Sony’s entry into the next generation console wars, is without a doubt a technical powerhouse.

First on sale in the US on November 17, 2005, there were two variations initially available, one with a 20GB hard drive for $499 and another with a 60GB hard drive for $599.

Additional differences between the two models was that the 60GB has built-in wifi and memory card readers whereas the 20GB does not.

Oh, and the 60GB version has some chrome trim.

Okay, that’s easy to keep track of–just two different versions.

Then on April 11, 2007, Sony discontinued the 20GB version from the US.

On July 9, 2007, Sony announced an 80GB version for the US and it was available on August 6, 2007, for $599 and the price of the 60GB was dropped to $499.

Then on August 30, 2007, Sony announced that it was discontinuing the 60GB version in the US.

On October 11, 2007, Sony announced that the 80GB would receive a price cut to $499 in the US.

On November 2, 2007, Sony released a new 40GB version for the US for $399.

A little confusing?

All versions of the PS3 feature support for Blu-ray (the final profile 1.1 is coming soon as best I can tell thanks to software updates), and apart from some other differences like the number of USB ports and the inclusion of card readers (which I personally don’t care about), the biggest differences come down to hard drive size and backwards compatibility.

When the PS3 first launched it included hardware from the PS2, which itself was backwards compatible with man PS1 games. By including PS2 hardware the PS3 was able to play PS3, PS2 and PS1 games.

Then, for the 80GB version, the PS2 hardware was dropped and backwards compatibility is now accomplished via software emulation to reduce costs and I suppose to help move people off the old PS2 platform and into PS3 games.

For the record, compatibility is better when you have the old hardware, versus trying to emulate the old system in software.

Something else to keep in mind is that software emulation takes hard drive space, so the more PS2 and PS1 games you play the more space you’ll loose (assuming it works the same way backwards compatibility does on the Xbox 360, which at this point I do).

The new 40GB doesn’t have any backwards compatibility at all (not in hardware, not in software, nada).

Both current versions in the US (the 40GB and 80GB versions) feature built-in wifi.

Where does that leave someone who’s shopping for a PS3 right now?

Do you want to be able to play PS2 and/or PS1 games or want to have tons of space for downloadable content just in case? Get the 80GB version for $499.

Don’t care about backwards compatibility and just looking for an inexpensive Blu-ray player and occasional gaming? Get the 40GB version for $399.

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