The last years have seen an incredible growth in gaming console popularity. We see that besides the established users of consoles, a lot of people are converting everyday from the "good-ol '" PC to a gaming console.
Now this happens for a number of reasons. The main reason is that a lot of great games now have exclusivity to one console or another, deliver better multiplayer experience and after all a mental dissociation between working at a computer and separate gaming, comfortable on your couch with your friends or family.
Last year we were presented with great promises of next generation gaming experience. But did it deliver?
Well, let's review one of the main gaming consoles, Sony PlayStation 4 and see for ourselves.
Compared to PS3, the PS4 is a purebred gaming console, having better hardware, slim design and new controllers to satisfy even the most demanding needs.
The PS4 is slim (only 12.01 × 10.8 × 2.09in), sharp, light weighted, with clean lines and is available in two colors, shiny white and jet black.
At the back side you can find a HDMI, Ethernet, digital optical audio port (no more analogue audio or video outputs) and, at last, the AUX port for PlayStation Camera peripheral.
On the front, the PS4 has a slot-loading Blu-ray disc drive and on the right we find two USB 3.0 ports. A line bisects the console integrating the power and eject buttons.
The console's ventilation is well made and generated little to no noise.
Overall, the PS4 is an attractive, beautifully shaped, not too large, built with quality materials and it fits perfectly with a modern type furniture.
On the inside, we found that Sony used a similar configuration to Microsoft. Using an octa-core x86 AMD Jaguar CPU, backed by 8GB GDDR5 RAM, and a Radeon GPU with 1.84 TFLOPS, the PS4 is very powerful and, an important point is that it is developer-friendly.
Also, the console includes a 500GB hard drive for additional storage that can be upgraded.
The PS4 is capable of running videos or viewing photos in 4K but we don't expect it to run games at this resolution.
Thanks to this specs, we found that the PS4 is generally quiet, occasionally getting noisier (especially when loading game discs), it sometimes does get warm, but not above common sense, the games ran smoothly, the graphics were great so we had no complaint in this department.
It seems that Sony heard all the gamers' cries about the DualShock 3 and decided to make an improved and better controller.
And so we witnessed the birth of DualShock 4.
The controller's dimensions are 6.4 × 2.0×3.9in, it weights 7.4oz (a bit more than it's predecessor) and its design is pretty similar to the DualShock 3. But make no mistake, DS4 is far from DS3.
The new controller is a lot more comfortable, no matter the hand size and is a lot more precise. Depending on the order of the players synced to the console, the controller will emit a different front-facing color for every player and the peripheral camera tracks the movement of the controller accurately.
The dual thumbsticks are a lot more precise and having a more concave shape really helped the thumbs to not slip. New major addition, besides the lightbar mentioned before, is the speaker, a new Share Button and a touchpad.
The touchpad feels comfortable on touch, it's responsive, smooth and basically works like the touchpad presented on laptops. ( Note: We hope that developers will make use more often of this feature as it is a great addition. )
The DS4 also has a 3.5mm jack so you can plug any headset directly into the controller.
We've seen a lot of people saying that the DualShock 4 is the best controller Sony has ever made and we tend to agree, using the DS4 was a delight.
Note: PS4 supports control voice input. You can use a microphone or a camera to enable this function.
If any of you owns a Sony TV, you will see the striking similarity between the TV's interface and the PS4's interface. It seems that PS4 moved away from the look of PS3 and while it retains the predecessor's interface speed, the new one is a lot more flexible.
The main characteristics of the new interface are simplicity, flexibility and user-friendliness.
Booting up the PS4 is almost instantaneously (from cold it takes about 15 seconds) and afterwards we are presented with a simple to navigate design comprising a three level menu.
The main menu consists of the games you have installed and some other additional apps, the top menu is a notification bar (alerts, messages, trophies) and at the bottom, the options and updates.
Note: The PlayStation 4 Orbis OS does not require an internet connection to function, but being connected to the internet does provide more functionality.
A new addition to the PS4 (April update) is the automatic connection with a PS Vita. It means that even if you turn off the TV you can continue playing on PS Vita due to a direct WiFi link.
Besides the PS Vita you can also connect smart phones or tablets that can also act as second screen devices.
One of the PS4 strong points is the Social Media. Opening the What's New page, you can keep track of your friends activities, social feed, see who's online and overall have a better experience when trying to play social-focused games.
Another good feature made better is the PlayStation Store. The Store is easy to navigate, you can easily find the games you want and if your download is stopped because of a sudden power-cut, you are presented with a resume option.
IF you used the old interface from the PS3, the PS4 interface will feel a lot more intuitive, simpler (no more PS3 confusion) and easy to use.
What about the games?
All games must be installed on the console storage before they can be played, although one can play a part of the game before it finishes installing.
Since the PS4 is more than a year out, a lot of games have been exclusively created for this platform. Games like Resogun, Assassin's Creed 4 or Infamous Second Son played smoothly on PS4, the graphics were good but more recent games, like The Order 1886 have really shown what the PS4 GPU can deliver.
The gameplay feels great on most games thanks to the awesome controller, the graphics are really good but even if it providing a great gaming experience, Sony has a tight competition with Microsoft.
What we hope is to see more developers push the boundaries of the PS4 and to show us what this little console is really capable of.
As a conclusion we say that the Sony PlayStation 4 is a really great "purebred" gaming console, with great performance, featuring great game titles and worth every penny.
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