While they're not supposed to "officially" go on sale until the end of this month, it appears that many retailers are stocking their store shelves with the new 80GB Core Packs. These systems, which retail for $399, offer an upgraded version of the previous 40GB system: a larger hard drive and a DualShock 3 controller. It does not, however, provide any backwards compatibility. Various tipsters have mailed us with reports of systems being on store shelves, and Ashhong from NeoGAF even posted a photo of one system.
If the new 80GB Core Packs are available, that means the two current PS3 SKUs both feature 80GB hard drives. The more expensive ($499) 80GB Metal Gear Solid 4 bundle includes a copy of the popular stealth action game and offers backwards compatibility.
Update: SCEA rep Al de Leon tells us that "Shipments of the new 80GB PS3 started this week, and retailers can sell them as they receive the inventory." If your local store has the new 80GB system, they're allowed to sell it immediately.