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Sony preparing new ultra-slim PlayStation 3?

The original PlayStation 3 is one of the ugliest game consoles ever created. The font from the Tobey Maguire-era Spider-man movies, the shiny black plastic that smeared when you breathe on it, the sheer girth and weight of the damn thing; it was a monster. The design staff working under PlayStation poppa Ken Kutaragi must have thought their leader had gone completely out of his mind. The 2009 PlayStation 3 redesign, known as the PS3 or PlayStation 3 Slim, is a marked improvement. People agreed on this point and the redesign helped Sony do swift sales with the device back then.

The PS3 hasn’t be selling quite as quickly these days and industry analysts have been suggesting that Sony needs to drop the price of the box soon to get some momentum going between now and the release of the PlayStation 4. Based on a recently uncovered FCC filing, it looks like Sony thinks another makeover might do the trick as well.

Japanese website Pocket News reported on Thursday that FCC filings made by Sony under the identification “AK8CBEH19C1” refer to a new PlayStation 3 model named the 4000 series, labeled CECH-4000. The current PS3 is the 3000 series. The above image is the CECH-4001x. (The “x” is variable depending upon the size of the hard drive in the console.) The image is of the bottom of the console where the FCC ID is located.

Compared to the FCC filing of the current PlayStation 3 model, it looks like the 4000 series would do away with the jutting vents for a size that is even more compact than the first revision.

When the Slim model released in 2009, Sony also used it as an opportunity to drop the price of the whole PlayStation 3 line by $100. A PlayStation 3 under $200, cheaper even than the PlayStation Vita portable, could feasibly drive sales for Sony through the holiday season. That would also put its competitors, particularly Nintendo whose new Wii U is expected to cost in excess of $300, in a tough position.

Over the years, Sony has skillfully extended the lifespan of its game consoles. The compact, cheap PSOne came out just months before the PlayStation 2 and it was a huge success for the company. The slim model of the PlayStation 2 kept that device selling well into 2010, a decade after the console’s debut. This new PlayStation 3, priced correctly, could do the same.