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PlayStation 4 overview: the good and the bad.
Playstation PomPom girls - Paris Games Week
The PlayStation 4, for anyone that doesn't know all of this by now, is a video game console produced by Sony Computer Entertainment.
As its name implies, the console has reached its 4th generation and competes with the likes of Microsoft's Xbox One and Nintendo's Wii U for the title of best gaming console out there.
The PS4 has left behind the complicated Cell architecture and now uses, like its rival from Microsoft, an AMD CPU, or APU like its producer calls it. An APU is short for "Accelerated processing unit" which is basically a CPU (central processing unit) and a GPU (graphics processing unit) solution on a single chip.
With its new and improved hardware, new OS (Operating system), new applications, the capability to interact with other devices such as smartphones and tablets, and let's not forget, voice control, the PS4 sure promises a lot, but does it rises to its expectations, well, let's find out.
Let's begin with the console's technical specifications and a short presentation of its systems and features.
PlayStation 4 with DualShock 4 and camera
Under its half matte, half gloss finished casing ( yeah, the same finish as the Xbox One, only the PlayStation is a lot sleeker and its color is called "jet black", not "liquid black", so there you go, they're not identical ) lies the the AMD APU, and integrated into it, is the CPU consisting of two quad-core Jaguar modules totaling 8 64 bit cores running at 1.6 GHz.
The GPU ( Graphics processing unit ), also integrated into the APU, is a modified AMD Radeon, consisting of 18 computing units, totaling 1152 cores, that produce a theoretical peak performance of 1.84 TFLOP.
The PS4 also includes a secondary ARM processor ( the ARM basically is a processor designed to require fewer transistors thus reducing costs, the amount of power it uses and the amount of heat it produces, and are usually used in smartphones, laptops, tablets etc. ), with separate 256 MB of RAM, to assist with the OS and other background functions.
The gaming console has 8 GB of GDDR5 RAM memory, and a 500 GB, user upgrade-able, hard drive.
Also capable of reading Blu-ray and DVD discs, the console runs on Orbis OS, or Orbis Operating System based on FreeBSD 9 and has Bluetooth, WiFi and Ethernet connectivity, and two USB 3.0 ports.
The DualShock 4 controller is, like its name implies, an improved version of its predecessor, and, as you can expect, the DualShock 3 isn't compatible with the PS4 although it uses the same connectors as the DualShock 4.
The PS4 also has a motion sensing camera, similar to Xbox One's Kinect system, but you have to pay extra for Sony's camera unlike for the Microsoft's Kinect which comes included in the Xbox's base price ( which is bigger that Playstation's price, to be honest ).
Also tablets, Smartphones, and PlayStation Vita can interact with the PlayStation 4 as second screen devices, and can also start the console from sleep mode.
The PlayStation Vita can be used to play supported games remotely, and there are also the PS Apps that allow iOS and Android mobile devices to interact with the PS4 ( similar to Xbox's SmartGlass feature ).
Let's not forget the PlayStation's voice control which enable the user to control the system with the help of voice commands. Although it doesn't have that many commands available right now, Sony planes to expand the number of voice commands, in the near future.
Now, we've seen what the console is capable of, in theory, so let's analyze this information to see if we can make some sense out of it.
PS4 - E3 - 2013
What the technical specifications actually mean?
Well, taking into consideration that the PS4 is a gaming console, we'll start by having a look at its gaming capabilities.
Most modern video game consoles, including Sony's 'baby', suffer from the same problem when it comes to backward compatibility: there is no backward compatibility. As in the case of Microsoft's Xbox One vs. Xbox 360, games from the previous console, respectively the PS3, won't work on the new Playstation 4.
There is, of course, the PlayStation Now service which offers gaming content trough a cloud-based streaming service by Gaikai, company owned by Sony since 2012. The service emulates and renders games from the previous generations of Playstation consoles, streaming them to the PS4 and Vita, over the internet. It is still in beta phase but, at least, Sony is taking a step in the right direction as backward compatibility is a must for me. You can call me old fashioned but I don't like the idea of filling my house with a ton of consoles from different years just because the manufacturers are too lazy to port old games to their new consoles. That being said, there is a downside. Like I've said earlier, the system is emulates games over the internet which, of course, means that your gaming experience will be influenced greatly by your internet connection. Also, the prices are quite steep but kudos nonetheless to Sony for having the initiative to add such a system in a gaming console.
While I like the initiative behind the PS Now system, I don't like the additional 60$ for the PlayStation Camera. The camera is a key element for a lot of the features in the PS4 and, let's not forget social sharing. To ask additional fees for such features leads me to think that both Sony and Microsoft have become quite specialized in milking their customers, as in order to use these consoles to their full potential, the costs scale up quite quickly and make the difference between the two, in terms of money, to be minute.
Returning to the gaming capabilities of the console, as you would expect, better hardware translates to better graphics, but there is a catch.
The difference in graphics isn't that impressive for the games that are also available on the PS3. This is the same thing as in the case of the Xbox, games that are made for the previous type of console ( PS3 and, respectively, Xbox 360 ) and converted for the new one will not look as good as the games specifically designed for the PS4 and / or Xbox one.
Also, according to "reviews.cnet.com" cross-platform games like Assassin's Creed IV: BlackFlag, for instance, don't look as good as PS4-exclusive games like Killzone: Shadow Fall.
On the plus side there are some interesting exclusive titles available right now and some that will be available soon that make this fourth edition of PlayStation a very interesting choice.
Another piece of good news coming from Sony is that they were quite vocal about the PS4's support for independent game development and plan on offering these games via the PlayStation Store. This can only be a good thing as the big companies are basically flooding us with titles, a lot of them being depressingly unoriginal, so, giving the smaller guys a chance can lead to some interesting results. The other gain from the gamer's point of view is that there will be a lot of choices out there, some really cheap and some even for free, and please, don't underestimate independent games as there are a lot of gems out there.
The experts at "reviews.cnet.com" were also quite taken by the DualShock 4 controller which, according to them, is the PlayStation controller to date. That is a big plus for the PS4 as controllers can literally make or break a gaming console.
That being said, I think the PS4 is a well made gaming console and its strengths exceed its weaknesses, so every gamer out there should consider buying one.
PlayStation 4 - Xbox One
The PlayStation 4 is a direct rival for the Xbox one, it is similar in terms of performances and it's similar in terms of problems. As always, the two consoles are very close and, because both of them will still be developed until they reach the end of their life cycle, so the task of finding a clear winner is a daunting one.
The Xbox One promises to become an entertaining system and take control of all of your living room, but I'm not very interested in that, call me old fashioned if you like. The bottom line is, if you buy a video game console, you're planning of using it mostly for playing video games, so the fact that PS4 has a more traditional approach doesn't make it inferior to the Xbox.
Sony's PlayStation 4 has great performances, stunning graphics, a well made interface and an even better made controller. The fact that there are a lot of indie titles available won't hurt its chances, as well.
In the end, it really matters to what you want from your gaming console. The Xbox is better in therms of apps and social media but it has a way more conservative approach, compared to the PS4, when it comes to the games available. Because of this the task of choosing between them will always be subjective, so I'm afraid you're on your own this time. There's an exclusive game you like, you like the interface, you want it for its social media capabilities or its apps. These are the elements that set this consoles apart so choosing between them is a matter of personal taste, that's why I can't tell you what to buy as I don't know your personal tastes.
Let's not forget that, with the new consoles in the shops, the old versions of these gaming consoles will probably become more affordable than ever, so, maybe, this is the best time to buy a PS3 or a Xbox 360. Who knows?
Anyway, I can't tell you what to buy, but you can tell me what you've bought or what you would like to buy, have your say in the comment area below, and you can also check the PS4's review made by "reviews.cnet.com" following the link below.
New vs. old poll:
Would you rather buy the newer, more expensive PS4 / Xbox One or the cheaper, older PS3 / Xbox 360?
Watch the full review from "reviews.cnet.com" on the PS4 here:
- Sony PlayStation 4 Review - Watch CNET's Video Review
The PlayStation 4 has arrived. Here are our first impressions of Sony's next-gen game console.