PlayStation 4 – All you need to know

DualShock 4 controller

Sony recently launched its latest video games console, the PlayStation 4. How does it match up to the PlayStation 3? We take a closer look at some of the key differences and features between the two.

Read our previous coverage on Which? of the PlayStation Vita. Plus, don’t forget to read the Which? Nintendo Wii U set-top box review.

What is PlayStation 4?

The PlayStation 4 (or PS4 as we’ll call it) is Sony’s fourth offering in the home video game console market. Details about the console were released on Wednesday evening at a press event in New York City.

It has been six years since the release of the PlayStation 3 in the UK, a considerable amount of time in the lifespan of a games console. The PS4 will compete with Nintendo’s Wii U and the as yet unannounced new Xbox games console, codenamed Durango.

What’s different about PlayStation 4?

No photos or CGI mock-ups of the console are available, so Sony is expecting people to imagine what the PS4 will look like instead. Some details have been released about its specifications, so here are some key differences between the PS4 and previous iterations.

1. DualShock 4
The DualShock controller has undergone a facelift adding several new features over the controller that bundled with the PS3. The DualShock 4 has a built-in touchpad on the front of the controller, and a three coloured LED lightbar that relays information such as low health to players.

2. More memory
The PS4 will feature more memory than the PS3, an upgrade from 512MB to 8GB of system memory. This means games like Diablo 3 and Knack will support more detailed graphical textures and higher resolutions. There are rumours that the new Xbox will also feature 8GB of memory, but using a slower type of RAM.

Dualshock 4 controller

The Dualshock 4 features a built-in touchpad.

3. Faster and beefier processor
The PS4’s processor is made by AMD and based around the x86 architecture, similar to what we would see in a normal desktop PC. The PS4 processor is moving away from the Cell architecture used in the PS3 for high performance computing. This new processor isn’t built for blistering speed, but it will definitely handle all gaming and entertainment tasks thrown it’s way.

4. User interface
Another change that is immediately noticeable is the user interface. Sony have decided to move away from the Xross Media Bar that was featured on the PS3 and produce a totally revamped interface, similar to the PlayStation Store interface.

What are the PlayStation 4’s key new features? 

PlayStation app and Remote Play
Sony is working on a new second screen app for smartphones and tablets (Android and iOS). This will allow users to buy games on the go and automatically download them to their PS4 console. In addition to Sony’s app announcement, PlayStation Vita owners will also be able to use their handheld console to view PS4 content on a second screen or stream games for remote play.

Share button
Social gaming has been done in the past, and not very well either. Sony aims to change this perception with some key new features. A ‘Share’ button on the controller will allow users to quickly and easily share recent gameplay videos, plus browse other friend’s videos as well. The system will ‘learn your likes and dislikes’ and suggest content based on your existing tastes, similar to how a Virgin Media Tivo box works.

PlayStation 4 Eye camera

Updated PlayStation Eye camera

PlayStation 4 Eye camera
The PlayStation has been totally redesigned and it now includes two 1280×800 pixels at 60 FPS cameras. Similarly to Microsoft’s Kinect, this means that not only will these cameras be able to gauge player distance and surrounding objects in the environment, they’ll also be able to track the movement of controllers in a 3D spectrum.

New sleep mode
Sony has announced a new sleep mode that will allow the PS4 to slide into a low power consumption state when not in use. This will allow users to fire up the PS4 quickly and download games in the background, even when the console is in sleep mode or turned off.

Software and services
Sony will be updating the existing PlayStation Store with improvements to its Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited services. Music Unlimited is a cloud-based subscription service, while Video Unlimited is an on-demand video service. Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Crackle and Cinemanow are also set to feature on the PS4.

When is it available and for how much?

There is no confirmed release date for the PS4 yet, only a general time frame of availability, pegged as the fourth quarter 2013.

Shortly after the launch event, UK retailer ShopTo begun taking pre-orders for £399.95, but since there is no official confirmed price information, take this information with a grain of salt. Price is likely to change once the release date looms closer.

Do you have an opinion on the PS4? Feel free to leave comments below or head over to our Which? Conversation article, Sony’s new PlayStation 4: will you be tempted?

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