Yesterday, Sony revealed the future of the PlayStation 4.
On stage they showed off two new models of the highly successful console, one of which is set to replace the standard PS4. But as opposed to talking about how these consoles will benefit the average gamer, Sony representatives spent the night talking about HDR and 4K ready displays. But what does all of this mean for those of us without these technologies? Are we going to be left behind if we don't own a PS4 Pro and $1,000 4K HDR ready TV? Let's clear things up a bit.
I'm going to examine the 3 consoles that'll be available to purchase come November 10, in an effort to make the mess of the console world (at least in the land of Sony) a little bit more comprehensive.
From The PS4 to the PS4 Pro, Let's See Which Console Suits You Best
Before we jump into examining the 3 PS4 models, there are two things we need to talk about: HDR and 4K. Once you understand how the tech market is pushing these two concepts, you'll have a better idea of which console you should own.
What you're looking at here is a breakdown of how many pixels a certain display boasts. All of these are HD, and for anyone that owns a HD TV you're likely experiencing your games in 1920x1080 resolution (most of the time) if you're playing on a PS4 or Xbox One. But 4K represents the largest strip in the picture.
For anyone that hasn't seen a video game running in 4K it can be difficult to describe the difference in quality. It's damn impressive and spectacularly beautiful once you witness the additional pixels on a screen that can handle them. But if you bought a PS4 Pro, which boasts 4K support, and you don't own a TV or monitor that displays in 4K you won't be able to enjoy the benefits. Simple as that. If you don't own a 4K TV, your PS4 Pro will simply play your games in 1080p, the same way the normal PS4 does.
I personally don't own a 4K television and imagine the majority of the gaming audience are with me on that. But essentially, 4K means a sharper and more beautiful gaming image. Then we have...
This image is supposed to show us how HDR (high dynamic range) will improve standard imagery on our TVs. HDR ready displays reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than is possible with standard digital imaging, and this, as opposed to 4K, is what developers see as the future of video games.
HDR will essentially deliver a cleaner and more colorful image to your living room. But yet again, in order to enjoy these benefits you'll need to have a television that supports them. However, you won't need a PS4 Pro in order to enjoy HDR.
Sony revealed that an incoming patch will enable all existing PS4s to support HDR imagery, and this patch is arriving shortly. So if you have a HDR ready monitor or TV, the games that currently (or will eventually) support HDR in the PlayStation 4's library will look prettier and more colorful once you install the patch. Simple.
But by now you probably realize that the key to picking the right PS4 is down to what you play video games on — or how much you're willing to spend on an upgrade.
With these two out of the way, let's talk about consoles.
PS4 Pro - $400 For Top of the Line
This was Sony's biggest talking point last night. The PS4 Pro is set to release on November 10 and boasts 4K and HDR gaming out of the box. It also comes with the new DualShock 4 controller and is certainly fatter (it looks like a staircase, actually) than the original. Here are some specs:
- Main processor: Custom-chip single Processor
- CPU: x86-64 AMD "Jaguar," 8 cores
- GPU: 4.20 TFLOPS, AMD Radeon™ based graphics engine
- Memory: GDDR5 8GB
- Storage size: 1TB
If you are in the possession of a 4K television with HDR support, your amazing display will compliment the PS4 Pro beautifully. You'll be able to enjoy a crisper and more colorful image than you've ever seen in console gaming. The PS4 Pro also boasts a more powerful processor, which could, slightly, improve the performance of older PS4 titles. But if you don't have these kinds of displays, in my mind, the PS4 Pro is a hard sell.
So let's break this down into customers so we can get a better idea of what the PS4 Pro could mean to you.
- Those who don't own a PS4: If you don't own a 4K TV or one that supports HDR, you're still going to be getting the most powerful PS4 on the market, which will slightly improve the performance of games over the base model. However, without 4K or HDR you won't be getting higher image quality. But at least you'll be ready for the day you decide to upgrade.
- Those looking to upgrade: The PS4 Pro will upgrade the performance of some older games in slight ways. But if you don't have a 4K TV, the jump from your current PS4 to the PS4 Pro might not make any sense. Perhaps if you're willing to buy a new television along with this $400 console then the purchase is worth it. But to pay $400 for a difference you won't really notice, we can't see any reason to upgrade right now.
The $300 PS4 Slim — Or Rather, The PS4
Sony will no longer be making the base PS4 that we've known since 2013. This is the PS4 now. What we've all been calling the PS4 Slim is almost exactly the same as the standard model, but it's certainly a sleeker model. The 500GB version of this new console retails at $300 and will be out in stores next week and it's had a few design changes.
Up front are new oblong power and circular eject buttons, which are thankfully actual physical buttons this time around. The shiny top of the body has also been removed; another blessing. But the PS4 now comes with the new DualShock controller, is quieter and the optical port has been removed. Other than these changes we're looking at the same device. No improvements to the games. It's similar to how the PS3 slim followed the standard PlayStation 3. So, here's the question: who should buy it?
- Those who don't own a PS4: For those who don't own a PS4, this is essentially like purchasing the old model. Except, of course, you're getting a much thinner and quieter version of the console and Sony's new controller. We think the PS4 is a great console, but I kinda wish mine looked as nice as this one does...
- Those looking to upgrade: The only thing that should drive you to upgrading to the new PS4 is aesthetics. On paper it makes no sense to upgrade, seeing as it does exactly what your console does. However, if you're so inclined, this is certainly the prettier model and that controller is hella nice.
The Original PlayStation 4
This baby is off the market. She gone. There are only a few days left to pick up the original PlayStation 4, though you'll always be able to pick it up second hand. I mean Sony's sold over 40 million of them. However, some of the current deals may be the best option in terms of getting a new console and few great games to boot.
As I said earlier, all PS4s will be ready for HDR once Sony releases the patch. So if you have a HDR ready TV and own a PS4, you'll actually be getting a free visual upgrade soon for certain games! So, at least in my mind, this is still a console worth picking up despite the announcement of the Slim and Pro versions.
What do you think of all this?
For me, as an owner of a standard PS4 for almost two years, Sony gave me no reason to upgrade last night. I have a beautiful TV, but it certainly doesn't support 4K. So the PS4 Pro isn't a sell for me. If the whole point of my upgrading is simply to get a cleaner image on certain games, Sony have lost a sale from me. I'll stick with my 1080p display and shall revel in that HDR patch once it lands.
But where do you all stand on the PlayStation 4 family? Are you already a happy member and not looking to upgrade? Are you a on the market for a new console? Or are you ready to buy that PS4 Pro and enjoy it on your 4K HDR ready TV? Let us know in the comments, dear gamers.