The new edition of the PlayStation 2 hardware, the SCPH-50000, which offers improved DVD playback, is set to arrive in the UK this week at the same time as Sony cuts the price of the PS2 to £139.99 (200 Euros).
The new revision hardware features a built in infra-red port and better DVD playback quality, including surround sound decoding, which means that users will no longer have to buy a separate remote control in order to fully use the console's DVD functions.
The new hardware will also allow the PS2 to compete more effectively with the Xbox as a DVD player, since despite the need for an additional accessory to enable DVD playback on Microsoft's console, it is generally considered to offer higher quality playback.
However, these improvements to the console's DVD abilities come at the expense of the under-utilised Firewire (IEE 1394) port on the front of the machine, which has been removed from this revision of the hardware. To our knowledge, Gran Turismo 3 was the only game ever to support using this port for linked multiplayer, and with the console's online service now up and running, Sony apparently doesn't see the need for Firewire any more.
The standard version of the SCPH-50000 will be accompanied by a "satin silver" model of the hardware, which is £10 more expensive than the black version but does come bundled with two silver joypads.