Sony’s launch of the PlayStation 3 was one marred by mis-steps. A high launch price combined with the several other gaffes forced the company which once had clear domination into a heated battle for consumers. The PS3 was clearly a system that was Sony’s attempt to get Blu-Ray and 3D into every living room, shifting their focus from games first and instead worrying more about their technologies adoption.
The PlayStation 4 is a return to a mindset we saw before the PlayStation 3, it looks and feels more like the PlayStation 2 and this time there’s no burgeoning technology fighting for attention. Instead Sony has opted to use standard PC architecture making the PlayStation 4 a faster and more developer friendly machine.
It’s truly impressive to open the PlayStation 4 box and see such a small and capable device with all the required connections. It’s really close in size to the PlayStation 3 slim and there’s no external power brick either making this a great addition to your entertainment center.
There’s no discernible buttons on the console, the power button resides in the middle above a slot loading blu-ray drive. To turn the console on you simply swipe your finger over the gap. The line from the power button runs the width of the console revealing a light bar that changes colors based on what is happening. Blue while powering on, white while engaged, orange while sleeping. It’s a nice touch and really ties everything together.
We won’t go much into the technical specifications of the console, but under the hood you’ll find a device that’s equally as powerful as a modern high-end PC with a few custom tweaks. There’s no analog video output, instead you must use an HDMI cable to connect the console to a TV. As of now there is HDCP encryption over HDMI, which could cause some issues with cheaper televisions or video capture devices.
You’ll also find an optical audio out port, two front facing USB ports, and a port for the optional PS4 camera. There’s an ethernet jack for connecting to the internet or the built in A/G/N Wi-Fi adapter may be used as well. Sadly the wi-fi only supports the crowded 2.4Ghz channel, instead of the growing 5Ghz standard. It also doesn’t support the emerging 802.11AC standard as well, which would increase range, bandwidth and help future proof itself.
The box comes with a small earbud headset that can be used for voice chat. It works, but the quality isn’t that great and it really isn’t the most comfortable. But at least it’s standard so voice chat shouldn’t be a problem. Luckily the PS4 controller allows for standard headsets with the single pole connection to work out of the box.
Perhaps the biggest letdown in terms of features for the PlayStation 4 is its hard drive. While 500GB seems like a lot on the surface, the fact that every game installs itself fully to the drive makes you realize this isn’t going to last long. I have 7 launch lineup games and have download two additional titles. I’m already down to 300GB free. After a week of playing with video captures running automatically, I have 100GB free. Hopefully the PlayStation 4 won't become a disk management nightmare.