Are you ready for Black Friday? Sony is. The company unveiled two new consoles last Wednesday at a press event held in New York.
One unit is the PlayStation 4 Slim. The PS4 Slim is a thinner version of the current hardware. According to Sony, the console is 30 percent smaller and 16 percent lighter. It is also 28 percent more energy efficient. The internal components are mostly the same as the current PlayStation 4. However, the new form factor has eliminated the optical audio port, which may be an annoyance to some users.
While the media has dubbed it the Slim, Sony intends it to be a replacement for current versions of the hardware. As such, they officially refer to it as the “new standard PS4” not the Slim. Since it is going to replace the current hardware, those who use optical audio may want to hold on to their bulky units.
The new PlayStation 4 is already on its way to retailers and will be released to consumers on September 15 for $299, well ahead of Black Friday sales.
— PC Gamer (@pcgamer) September 12, 2016
The big announcement of Sony’s event was the PlayStation 4 Pro. That is right. It is not being called the Neo. The PS4 Pro, like the Xbox One S, is capable of 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR) output.
According to Sony, “With more pixels, 4K’s higher resolution delivers graphics that are sharper and have greater detail than ever imagined. HDR enables visuals to look much closer to the way your eyes see the real world.”
The PlayStation 4 Pro’s motherboard features an 8-core x86-64 AMD “Jaguar” CPU and an AMD Radeon-based graphics engine capable of 4.20 TFLOPS. Sony claims that the new hardware will improve frame rates as well as graphical details. This boost is a significant upgrade to the current PS4. Likewise, Gate’s and company has increased the processing power of its gaming system with a 1.75GHZ AMD 8-core APU and 914 MHz AMD Radeon.
— Destructoid (@destructoid) September 13, 2016
While the Xbox One S is not quite as powerful as the PS4 Pro, Xbox division head, Phil Spencer and design lead, Albert Penello both stated to Eurogamer that the upgrade would not, nor was it intended to change the performance of games on the system.
“When we made changes to the box for 4K we unlocked a little bit more processing power to enable HDR. That’s it. It’s exactly the same architecture as the existing one … It will have no impact on games at all. Literally no impact. They will be identical. [The upgrade] is literally nothing. I will say – and I’ve been asked about this – and I’m not trying to dodge the question, you should expect it to play your games the same way an Xbox One does. We did not design this to play Xbox One games better than the original Xbox One console.”
In stark contrast, PlayStation.Blog states that “Games that already look extraordinary on PS4 will look richer and more detailed, thanks to the more powerful GPU and faster CPU at the heart of PS4 Pro.”
Sony admits that some current games will not look better at release because they will not be capable of taking advantage of the new hardware. However, it also stated that some developers are working on updates to current titles that add support for the PlayStation 4 Pro’s hardware.
“At launch, you’ll be able to download patches for games – such as Uncharted 4 – which are enhanced when playing on the new console. Future releases that will have PS4 Pro enhancements built-in include Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Mass Effect: Andromeda and Days Gone.”
These “enhancements” are a monumental advantage over the Xbox One S.
— Engadget Gaming (@joystiq) September 8, 2016
Of course, all of this graphical goodness on both systems comes with one caveat. Those without a monitor or television that supports the higher resolution will not be able to take full advantage of the new hardware. Games will still run in 1080p, but this raises the question of whether an investment in the new system will be worth the price. The purchase is even more questionable with Sony set to release a software update, which PlayStation.Blog says, adds HDR support to all PlayStation 4 systems including current hardware.
According to Sony, it will. The company claims that even though users without 4K monitors will not be able to enjoy the luscious ultra-HD graphics on the new console, they will see a marked improvement in frame rates on many games due to the boost in processing. So while gamers are waiting for the price of 4K technology to come down, they can still enjoy improved performance on the new system.
For watching movies, the Xbox One S holds the advantage over Sony with a drive that supports UHD Blu-ray. However, for gaming, the PlayStation 4 Pro beats Microsoft’s platform with games in true 4K as opposed to 1080p upscaled to 4K. Games played in 4K should be noticeably sharper and cleaner than upscaled 1080p.
— \ Larry Hryb \ (@majornelson) September 12, 2016
It appears that Microsoft was only shooting for adding 4K support while keeping the real hardware in reserve for its next generation console. However, not opting for 1080p upscaling rather than 4K output for games seems a bit last minute and pointless for what is supposed to be a gaming console.
Sony was apparently looking in the opposite direction. The company developed a system that focuses on the games while leaving out UDH Blu-ray disc playback. The electronics powerhouse appears to be attempting to offer support for those with 4K televisions, while also bridging the gap between the current generation of hardware and its next-gen console.
There is a $100 price difference between the two consoles with PlayStation 4 Pro being the more expensive. Those looking for the best resolution games to play on their brand new 4K televisions are probably not going to fuss too much about the extra expense for the PS4 Pro. Likewise, those who have an extensive collection of UHD Blu-ray movies are going to like the savings Microsoft offers. However, many current owners are apt to take a pass on both systems and wait for the real next-gen platforms to release.
— Game Informer (@gameinformer) September 8, 2016
Those who are in the market for either of these systems or even the PlayStation 4 Slim, will be happy to know that all will be available before the Black Friday shopping frenzy. The Xbox One S is already available starting at $299 and has a few bundles available including a Halo Collection Bundle. The PlayStation 4 Pro goes on sale November 10, for a suggested retail price of $399, but no bundled deals have been announced for it yet.
The Slim’s release date is set for September 15. According to PlayStation.Blog, the new PlayStaion 4 will have a couple of bundles to choose from including an Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End package deal for the same low price of $299 as the unbundled version. A Final Fantasy XV Limited Deluxe Edition Bundle for $499 will also be released, but will not be available until November 29.