Let’s face it, when it came to the PS3 their were many things I didn’t like about it. The XMB main interface felt detached and a bit lifeless. Multiple monthly mandatory updates that interrupted gameplay, and no cross game chat made the entire thing feel desolate. Not to mention the proprietary technology that made developing for the PS3 less pleasant to work on then other consoles. The Playstation 4 writes most of PS3’s wrong and even advances upon them. Sony has listened to the criticism surrounding the PS3 and seems to want to make this the console of our dreams. To even say the both were night and day of each other would be an understatement.
Packaging is an important part to any product and the slim design of the PS4’s box naturally packs everything nicely. The console is esthetically one of the best looking consoles to date. Very sleek and angler, with a 2/3rds to 1/3rds matte black and gloss look it’s been made as a very stylistic product. Measuring thinner then the Xbox One and even thinner then the slim PS3, the PS4 is entering the next generation better then they even left off with the PS3 in terms of form factor. All of this is with the power supply built in unlike the last two Xbox consoles. The style seems to mend what Sony has done in the past with other products and are no longer looking to distance themselves by design like the PS3 had before it.
The console has a thin LED light with different color schematics to indicate if it is in power save mode, standby,or if their is possibly an error. The split between the two tone finished on the consoles front is where you also eject a disk and turn off the system which was confusing to find at first. The cooling vents are in the back of the system which is not too surprising but a console of this stature might have benefited with more vents or possibly a relocation of them. The PS4 features two USB 3.0 ports in the front, an optical audio out, HDMI out and Ethernet port. An AUX port is used exclusively for the Playstation Camera which comes separately. They have stuck to the slot-loading disk drive which plays your games, DVDs and Blu-ray movies but does not support CD’s as of yet. Lastly the console seems to stay relatively quiet during use. We’ve only experienced it to be at its loudest when installing a game while playing it which doesn’t even happen all the time.
The PS4 whops a mammoth of power under the hood.The architecture has a PC like design powered by its 64-bit Jaguar AMD CPU. The APU is on a single chip combined with the CPU and GPU and makes communication easier between the two. It also sports a 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi chip for wireless play and interaction. The console has a 8GB GDDR5 Ram and 500GB SATA II 5400 RPM hard drive which can be swapped out for a bigger one. The 8GB GDDR5 Ram makes navigating and multitasking between games and applications a breeze. We would have like to have seen a hard drive of 7200 RPM as we’re not sure how load times will expand or decrease with the low end 5400 RPM drive.
The DualShock 4 controller is a testament to the entire package. I was not a fan of the DualShock 3 controller, not even a little and this controller has changed my tune to thinking of if Sony was even capable of making a decent console controller. The DS4 is bigger and more conformed to the hands making the fit almost perfect. It also features smaller analog sticks for more precise gameplay, concave triggers, a newly added touchpad, front speaker and new input jacks on the bottom. The touchpad, while barely in use at the moment will see strides of innovation and is also clickable. We fear the impact the click function will have on games as we found it difficult to hit the pause button without hitting the touchpad button simultaneously, games like Madden 25 ends up calling a timeout in such event.
The speaker can also see great use as games like Killzone: Shadowfall takes advantage by playing back audio files out of the controller then the actual TV. Lastly the audio jack in the bottom lets you now plug in any stereo headset for use. The quality is pretty good but not surround. We weren’t able to test it with to many products but found mid-higher end headsets to sound well while lower end like Apple earbuds or the single piece earbud that comes with it to sound strange or not good.
The gamepad has replaced the start button with a Share button which will add new features. Overall a great experience with the controller and gives me confidence to play any game type with it.
The Playstation’s new OS is where things really come together and you see all the work that Sony has made paying off. I like to call this the definitive or perfect version of the PS3 XMB interface. Resembling it but with an easy to navigate yet graphically heavy menu, it marries design with functionality at its early state. Each item has its own drop downs that will take you to various options including new DLC, news and if your friend is or has recently played/used it. Things like contacting friends, cross chatting (yes it is now a reality) and other tasks have never been made easier.
The PS4 makes simple of one of the things that is often most difficult for gamers, especially on consoles which is recording and live streaming. Pressing the button on the Dualshock 4 controller will bring up the menu to record gameplay, take a screenshot and or live stream. Live streaming in particular can be done with either Twitch TV or UStream right out of the box and performance never takes a hit from the experience. I found myself getting a live stream going within minutes of initial console use and is very intuitive. This alone remains my favorite feature to date.
Each game needs to be installed now and while 500GB seems like a lot in theory we are starting to see the first batch of game sizes to install which have reached up to 50GB, it looks like you might have to upgrade sooner then anticipated. Luckily another thing the PS4 does is let you play the game while installing and certain games can be played within seconds of it starting the install process. Updates can also be made automatically to games, happening in the background and will only take effect after your session is over.
I think one of our biggest gripe with the OS is the Playstation 4 store, like the PS3’s store remaining to be its own style breaks navigation entirely. Another, is things it is missing as a whole from the PS3 which is being able to read any external storage at it even a basic level. No external mp3 support and while not effecting a ton of people, the fact that their is no Blu-Ray 3D support out of the box. I am an owner of a 3D TV and movies but will not be able to take advantage of the hardware in this manner.
Next Generation is here and is evident by the strides Sony has made to make the PS4 a gamers paradise. We believe the system will evolve unlike the PS3 and hopefully learn to what gamers want. With a price tag of $400 which is $100 less then the Xbox One and fitting all this power in such a small form factor is enough to see Sony’s vision through.