PS4 Console

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The PlayStation 4 is the most powerful games console on the planet.

With more graphical power than the Xbox One, 32 times more system memory than the PS3 and a firm focus on pure gaming experiences rather than media mojo, it has established itself as the next-gen console to beat.

It's a games console built by gamers for gamers. It won the hearts and minds of many from the word go, with lots of prospective next-genners left feeling alienated by some of Microsoft's bizarre policies and choices for the Xbox One – many of which were reversed as a result of a baclash.
Coming in at £350, the PS4 is also £80 cheaper than the Xbox One, making it appear terrific value. It doesn't come with the PlayStation Camera (the One does come with Kinect) but this can be bought separately for £45 if you so wish.
 

The differences between the PS4 and Xbox One are actually evident before you even switch them on. Despite the two consoles both sporting similar half-matte half-gloss finishes and containing very similar internal components, they really couldn't be more different.

For a start, the PS4 is small and sleek in comparison to the enormous VCR-like square cuboid of the Xbox One. And this means that the PS4's box is half the size and weight of the Xbox One. The Sony console can be extracted from its packaging and plugged in and booted up in a couple of minutes.

Xbox One on the other hand comes in a huge, hulking box. It's fiddly to open and unpack, and it's full of little compartments, carboard and plastic to get in the way and make a mess with. The environment was not a concern for Microsoft when it designed the Xbox packaging, clearly.

This is the kind of streamlining that typifies the PlayStation experience with PS4. It's a console designed for gamers to play games and in this respect it could be described as more of spiritual successor to the PlayStation 2 – still the best selling games console the universe has ever known.

Design

One look at the PS4 and you know you're seeing Sony hardware. It's slim, sleek and jet black, roughly the size of a second generation PS3 Slim. The full measurements are 275 x 53 x 305 mm. It's a lot more compact than an Xbox One, which is longer, taller and squarer.

In a feat of engineering worth tipping your hat to, and in spite of the PS4's slim stature, Sony has tucked the power supply inside the system, leaving no external power brick to trip over. The Xbox One on the other hand retains the power brick of the Xbox 360.

PS4 sports a sloped, asymmetrical design. That's its largest departure from PlayStations past. It lies flat on its belly by default, but can go up on its tiptoes with the help of a plastic stand, sold separately for £16.99.

On its face is a slit of a mouth, a slot loading Blu-ray disc drive. To its right are two powered USB 3.0 ports, which can charge your Dual Shock4  controllers when the system is turned off, a feature the PS3 sorely lacked.

Along the top, or the side if you've opted for the stand, is a light, which glows blue when you boot it up. It breathes some life into the otherwise cold industrial design of the system. Turn it on and it blinks a yawning hello.

PS4 specifications

Inside, the PS4 is all business. It has a custom single-chip processor that combines an eight core x86-64 AMD "Jaguar" CPU with a 1.84 teraflop GPU based on AMD's Radeon tech. That's backed by 8GB of GDDR5 RAM, and a 500GB mechanical hard drive.

Sony claims that the PS4's overall performance is ten times that of the PS3. You can also remove that 500GB drive and replace it with a larger drive, or an SSD for better performance. Sony says these do it yourself upgrades will not void the system's warranty.

Those two USB ports are the PS4's only front facing connections. In the rear you'll find HDMI, Ethernet, a digital optical audio out and a proprietary auxiliary connection for the PlayStation Camera.

For wireless connections, the PS4 uses 802.11 b/g/n for WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1 for its wireless DualShock 4 controllers.

Features

The PlayStation 4 is a living room computer, more so than the PS3 ever was. Not just because of its specs and AMD-based architecture, but because of its robust feature set.

It's capable of bringing games and movies quickly into your home, as well as connecting you to your friends and other online gamers through the PlayStation Network as well as Twitter and Facebook to share brag-worthy gaming moments.

What's in the box?

You're bringing home more than a just a stylish asymmetrical black console. In addition to the actual system you get a power cord (not a big power brick), an HDMI cable, an earbud microphone combo, one DualShock 4 controller and its charging cable (we charged our DualShock 4 pad using the Xbox One and the world did not end).

Extra controllers don't come with another charging cable, so don't lose that one. Also, note that we said earbud singular, not earbuds, as in just for one ear. It's cheap but serviceable, but you can actually plug any old headset or pair of buds you already own into the controller's headphone jack, so it's not much of an issue.

Setup

Setting up the PlayStation 4 is very easy, especially if you have a PS3. You can actually use the same cables from Sony's last system, making for a very easy swap.

As mentioned on page 1, the PS4 is super easy to extract from its box and set up, leaving minimal mess and very little environment-killing packaging.

Once it's all plugged in and booted up, your new PS4 will ask to connect to internet. It wants that 300MB day-one patch, but it doesn't need it for offline play. You are able to skip WiFi or ethernet altogether and just pop in a game. Unlike the Xbox One, you can get to the homescreen without initially connecting to the web and patching.

Once you do connect to the internet, you'll need to let the PS4 update before you can make purchases from the store or play online.

PlayStation Store

Sony won the popularity contest at E3 by promising not to fiddle with used game trade-ins, but gamers will still have the option to purchase any and all games on the day of release digitally through the PlayStation Store.

While opting out of a physical copy means no disc to resell down the road, a digital copy brings a level of convenience to your purchase that's reminiscent of Steam. It means no disc to lose, scratch or even bother inserting when you want to play. You won't have anything to sell to GameStop though, nor will you be able to lend out the game.

Games can even be played before a download completes. When purchasing a game like Killzone: Shadow Fall, you'll be asked which portion of the game should be prioritized, single player or multiplayer, essentially letting you choose which part of the game you want to hop into first.

In a little less than an hour, you'll be able to start playing a title. It may seem like something only the truly impatient would enjoy, but when you consider that many releases weigh in excess of 35GB, it's real luxury feature, and another impressive bit of engineering.

Then there's the PlayStation app for iOS and Android. With just the stroke of a touchscreen, you can remotely purchase games, and get the download going on your PS4 so it's ready and waiting when you get home (the console will turn on, download and switch off on its own).

Finally, PlayStation Plus is offering a bit of financial amnesty for customers who've bought copies of games like Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag or Call of Duty: Ghosts for PS3, and other titles that are available on next and current-gen. For a small fee, you can get the next-gen version, providing you insert your PS3 copy as a sort of proof of purchase.

You'll have to continue to do so, meaning that every time you want to play the PS4 Call of Duty you bought through this offer, you'll need to pop in the PS3 version. That last-gen copy will still work on your PS3 though, requiring the disc seems like a way to make sure customers can't use both simultaneously.

 

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