Here in America we tend to abide by this “bigger is better” mantra that permeates every single aspect of our lives. While we’re busy making huge trucks and SUVs that get 8 miles to the gallon, the Japanese are busy making powerful electronics that look like they belong in Verne Troyer’s house. For decades, Sony has led the way with its inventive line of Walkman products and the slimmed down PSOne. Now the company is ready for a full-on assault with its upcoming PlayStation Portable
supplemented by the smaller and more compact PlayStation 2.
Although the box says “PSTwo” in the lower left corner, SCEA has asked us not to refer to the unit in that manner. For now the unit is still known as the PS2 until further notice, possibly because SCEA has plans to follow up with an even smaller unit in the future. The retail package comes with the revamped PS2, an external power brick, the usual component cables, a network startup disc, the instruction manuals and a Dual Shock 2 controller. The Dual Shock 2 is identical to the one that is currently available on the market while the cables are identical (although the video prong is orange instead of yellow).
The new PS2 is constructed of the same black plastic material that encases the old PS2. Upon first glace it’s apparent that the unit is a PS2, just that it’s much smaller than before. It’s tough to explain just how small the unit really is unless you have the object right in front of you. When lain flat across a table, it takes up a little more space than a standard paperback book while its profile is even smaller, coming in at a paltry 2.8 cm (the original was 7.8cm). It weighs much less too, coming in at about 1/4th of the weight of the original PS2. The device is really easy to tote around and I had no problems putting it into a messenger bag during my recent roadtrip to Reno.
In order the squeeze all of the components into the tight confines of the PS2, the designers had to remove the internal power supply and its dust-magnet fan. Now it has been relegated to a power brick, much like what you expect to find on a laptop. This makes the unit significantly lighter while offering up the same performance and functionality as before. As another addition, the unit no longer needs that power supply heating fan, giving the unit a much slimmer profile and quieter operating level. With the old PS2 we could often hear the fan and the DVD-drive functioning, especially during the quiet parts of our favorite movies. Now those sounds are an afterthought and only become noticeable during quiet load times.
The network adaptor was first released as an add-on that players had to buy at retail outlets. As holiday 2003 neared Sony decided to include the network adaptor with all future PS2 bundles, negating the need to pick up the unit at retail outlets. The new PS2 takes this a step further and integrates the network adaptor into the PS2, forgoing the need for the external network adaptor. Since the network components now sit flush with the unit, it makes the device easier to tote around and use. With the old PS2 and adaptor solution, packing the device was difficult because it didn’t fit into the standard PS2 box. Players had to manually remove the network adaptor and then package the two objects separately. It wasn’t too big of a deal but it was definitely a huge hassle.On the downside, the new PS2 has a few compatility issues with some pre-existing products. It doesn’t support the HDD peripheral that was released early last year. Sony promised some big things for the HDD and now it seems like those ideas may go unfulfilled. It also doesn’t support the old multi-tap and requires players to purchase the new multitap for four-player action. As you could probably imagine, the device doesn’t support the old vertical stand that was designed for the larger PS2. Also, the iLink port is still gone making linked play for titles such as Time Crisis 2
Side-by-side comparison of the old PS2 vs. the new PS2.
If you were planning to purchase the new PS2 for use in a home entertainment setup you may want to think twice. While the old unit utilized an extendable DVD tray, the new unit is top loading. This makes it difficult to fit the unit into a small confined space because the tray pops up, making it hard to pull out the discs. This new loading method saves precious internal space for the unit, but makes it difficult for home theatre enthusiasts to enjoy. Perhaps a sucking solution (such as the kind found in most car head units) would have been better for the device. The device was built to sit on its horizontal footprint but an additional footstand is available if you prefer the vertical operation mode.
Functionally, it’s the exact same system as the old PS2. It won’t load games faster, it won’t make them prettier and it won’t make them better. It plays all of the same DVDs and PS2 games that you had before so you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues with previously released titles. It also does them at a much quieter decibel level which helps you stay in the game without being distracted by the noise of the system.
If you were an early adopter this redesign is right up your alley. There's a great chance that your system is giving you a ton of disc read errors and there's an even better chance that you're too lazy to take apart the system and fix the drive. This new release offers up all of the luxury of the PS2 in a small package that's much more convenient than the old unit. If you're in the market for a new PS2 or if you just need to replace an old one, make this updated PS2 your first choice. The original was already great, this one's even better.