Sony finally took the wraps off the much-rumored PS3 Slim yesterday and gave it the more affordable $299 price tag consumers had been clamoring for. The new 120GB unit is smaller, lighter, and packs “all the same features” of older models (with the exception of Linux support) while consuming 34 percent less power. It is also a bit quieter than its predecessors, which is good news for people using the console as a Blu-ray player.

At the same time, Sony announced a $100 price cut for current 80GB and 160GB models – now at $300 and $400 – while supplies last. We’re not quite sure why anyone would buy the bulkier and less capacious 80GB console when they can wait a few weeks for the Slim to arrive at the same price. But if that 160GB unit for $400 is starting to sound tempting, get this: recent filings with the FCC suggest a 250GB variant of the PS3 Slim may arrive soon. The question is when will it be released and at what price.

It’s also worth mentioning that the new 3.0 firmware will be released concurrently with the PS3 slim on September 1, which should provide a breath of fresh air for existing machines. The latest update incorporates some usability and cosmetic changes to the UI – full details are available at the PlayStation Blog.