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The PS4 launched for $399 today

Sony's PlayStation 4 officially released today, and the (mixed) reviews are in. 

Tech news sites like EngadgetThe VergeArs Technica and Joystiq have offered their insights on the new PS4 console, and the overall reviews seem to range from "worth it, go buy it" to "Maybe you should wait for Xbox One reviews." But many agreed that the design of the hardware (both console and controller) was done just right, and that it has an extremely friendly user interface. 

Let's dive right in.

The Specs
  • Octa-core, x86 AMD "Jaguar" CPU
  • Radeon GPU capable of 1.84 teraflops
  • 500GB hard disk drive
  • 8GB of GDDR5 memory
  • Six-speed Blu-Ray drive
  • USB 3.0
  • Ethernet
  • HDMI
  • optical audio output
  • AUX connector for the camera
Pricing & Availability 

The PS4 launched today in the U.S., and will hit Europe on 
November 29. The console is priced at $399. 


Hardware - Console 

Reviewers had nothing but great things to say about the PS4 console's hardware. Ars Technica called it a "beautiful" and "unique" case design while The Verge dubbed it "handsome." 

Here's what Engadget's Ben Gilbert had to say:

"Think of it this way: If E3 was a beauty pageant, and Sony's and Microsoft's next-gen console designs were the contestants, then the PS4 was basically crowned Miss World that day in LA. Sony's black gaming box is a return to form for the global electronics giant; it's the type of living room hardware that evokes signature Sony style, not celebrity-endorsed kitchenware."

Richard Mitchell, Joystiq:

"The PlayStation 4 itself is an attractive device. The unit is close in size to the "slim" PlayStation 3 that launched back in 2009. Not taking the PS4's angled sides into account, the two consoles have nearly the same square footprint...The only troubling physical quality of the PS4 is that the plastic casing has a good amount of flex to it. Squeeze or prod the console and you'll be able to see and feel the plastic bending under your fingers."

Hardware - Controller

The PS4's DualShock 4 controller is one feature that grabbed rave reviews all around (minus one comment about the controller only getting about seven hours of battery life). Ars Technica even claimed it's "one of the best we've ever used" while The Verge called it a "fantastic controller."

Engadget's Gilbert seems to feel the same way:

"There's no doubt in our minds: Sony's DualShock 4 is the best game controller that the company's ever created. It's not quite perfect, but it's damn close. For the most part, the DualShock 4 is a carefully refined version of the DualShock 3. The standard two parallel thumbsticks, the d-pad on the left face, a four-button layout on the right, two triggers and two shoulder buttons up top continue to be the main forms of input. The DualShock 3's tilt sensor and rumble motor are also back with minor tweaks, offering tighter precision and more detailed vibration (respectively)."

Mitchell, Joystiq

"The DualShock 4 is one of the most comfortable controllers I've ever held. It abandons the long-maintained DualShock design for something much more ergonomic. Specifically, the DualShock 3's tapered prongs have been replaced by more bulbous and natural handles. Even better, the back of the controller is made of a textured, but not rubberized plastic that offers great grip. The D-pad directions are spaced more closely together, and there's a nice divot in the middle that gives the thumb a natural place to rest. The analog sticks are spaced slightly further apart, and they now feature concave bowls on top, preventing the slippage common with the DualShock 3. Speaking of slippage, the DualShock 3's convex triggers are gone, and in their place are delightfully concave triggers that do a much better job of cradling your all-important shooting fingers."

Software - UI

The user interface (called the PlayStation Dynamic Menu) was touted as clean and simple, making it more user friendly. The PlayStation Store also received a lot of compliments. But reviewers had issues with system UI performance in some cases, such as the interface not scaling well for power users.

Engadget's Gilbert describes the UI as an improvement:

"The user interface on the PlayStation 4's new desktop is a massive improvement over the often confusing PlayStation 3 XMB (cross-media bar). It's essentially a set of square tiles that expand out with rich content when selected. Select a game and you'll see options for the developer-fed overview tab (screens, video, et cetera), recent social activity involving that piece of content and related items available in the Store."

And he's also fond of the PlayStation Store: 

"Finally -- finally! -- a digital store from a Sony PlayStation game console that is navigable! The PlayStation Store on PlayStation 4 is far and away the best iteration of the store yet, offering a single, simple left rail for navigation between film, TV and games offerings."

The Verge warns that you must download the day-one update before you can really do anything on the console, and also thinks the notifications could use improvement:

"Practically everything the system does, even the built-in web browser, requires you to log in to PlayStation Network, and most of the console's highly touted features aren't available until you install a 300MB day-one update as soon as you turn on the console — all you can do is pop a disk in and play a game otherwise...but even after you do update, the PS4's interface still revolves entirely around games. Where the PlayStation 3 was designed as a media hub where your pictures, music, and videos were neatly arranged in a scrolling two-column interface, Sony has stripped the vast majority of that away.
"But the real problem with the PS4's interface is that Sony hasn’t been paying attention. Sony hasn’t learned something smartphones and social networks mastered years ago: making notifications actionable."

Ars Technica's Kyle Orland said the new PlayStation Store UI is "great," but also mentioned that the flat system interface gets cluttered and can be hard to use. 

Joystiq's Mitchell even found a couple hiccups in the UI:

"The Dynamic Menu in general isn't without a few hiccups of its own. I encountered one moment when it became unresponsive for several seconds, notably when installingKillzone: Shadow Fall. Upon installation, the game required an additional update to be downloaded. At this point Shadow Fall's tile briefly displayed two different "start" buttons. One of these had a disc icon indicating I could start the game. The other was unlabeled, though clicking it appeared to start installing the update. Updates are supposed to be applied automatically, so something seems to have gone awry, though it did eventually right itself."

A few other favorites are the "What's New" section, which provides a look at friends' activities, and the automatic download of system and game updates. But there were complaints about the iOS PlayStation App being of limited use and the Music Unlimited being "clunky."

Software - Games

Engadget's Gilbert will tell you "Battlefield 4" is the prettiest launch-day title for the PS4, but The Verge will say there aren't enough great games yet. 

Here's Gilbert's guide to PS4 games: 

"If you're looking for bombast and bullets, 'Killzone: Shadow Fall' is your launch title of choice...'Resogun' is both an excellent game and a graphics showcase...Ten minutes with 'Knack' is all you need to realize this title is basically 'Crash Bandicoot' for the next gen...Thanks to the power of EA's Frostbite 3 engine, DICE's 'Battlefield 4' is easily one of the prettiest PS4 launch day titles. Amazingly, it's going to be third-party titles that keep early adopters afloat this holiday --'Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag' is no exception. The game features a beautiful Caribbean world, which shines on the PlayStation 4, and it's actually a fun game to play."

The Verge has a different perspective on the PS4 launch titles: 

"The two dozen or so launch titles for the console are unlikely to satisfy the exact gamer Sony’s trying so desperately to court — and that may be disappointed with what’s available for the console they pre-ordered...It's not that any of the games we've played are bad — quite the opposite, in fact — it's just that they're almost exactly what you'd expect. Aside from visual enhancements, the games played largely identically to their current-generation versions."

To Buy or Not to Buy?

Ben Gilbert, Engadget:

"After a marathon week with the PlayStation 4, we feel confident in saying it will be worth your hard-earned money when it goes on sale tomorrow. For $400, you're getting a speedy, powerful little PC with an extremely friendly user interface -- and it doesn't look like a PC, which is a nice bonus. We may not review game consoles every day, but we know a good one when we see it. This is just the beginning with PlayStation 4, and it's a hell of a start."

The Verge

"For right now, though, there's little incentive to spend $399 on a PlayStation 4. Not only are there few games worth the price of admission, the vast library of PS3 games is more compelling than anything the PS4 currently offers. If you're desperate for a new console, rest assured that eventually the PS4 will be one; it has plenty of power, a great controller, and a lot of good ideas about how we can play games better and how we can play them together. But for right now, they’re mostly still just ideas."

Kyle Orland, Ars Technica:

"The PlayStation 4 has an excellent controller, decently powerful hardware, some intriguing, well-executed new features, and an interface that shows belated acknowledgement of some of Sony's most user-unfriendly past designs. It also has a lot of features that are half-assed, missing, or downright bewildering at this point. Still, overall, it's a good starting point for a system that's meant to last a long time. Wait for the Xbox One review to compare and contrast."

For the DT readers who picked up a PS4 today, what are your reviews? 

Sources: The Verge, Ars Technica, Joystiq, Engadget

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RE: Ps4 - peasant box 4?
By Nortel on 11/15/2013 8:22:47 PM , Rating: 2
I do understand the need to not burn the Sony ads bridge but c'mon. My points are completely valid.

There is no current 4k/3d bluray support period. The ps3 had SACD, custom OS support and PS2 support which were all removed over time. Who is to say the PS4 will EVER get support for features not currently on the system OR have existing features removed? I guess you can see why they removed the slogan "it only does everything".

PC's do so much more compared to a console, you can't even properly compare them. If I tried to explain how much better a ti-86 calculator is vs a smartphone you'd laugh.

RE: Ps4 - peasant box 4?
By Flunk on 11/16/2013 12:27:21 AM , Rating: 2
You're comparing a list of value added features, not the games. Games consoles are about the gaming experience so it would sell regardless of the bells and whistles or lack thereof.

Also, no one has 4K. No one, and they won't for a few years at least.

RE: Ps4 - peasant box 4?
By CaedenV on 11/16/2013 3:08:27 AM , Rating: 2
You want games? PC has games. About 30 years of games, emulators, roms, etc. More games than you could play in a lifetime, most of which cost less than $5 each on a sale, even for 2-3 year old blockbusters.

PS4 and XB1 are both 10+ year solutions. The plan is that these are streaming platforms which are expected to play local games the next few years. A few years down the road then there will be a firmware update to HDMI 2 with 4K video support and you pay an extra subscription to offload the real GPU support to a server somewhere. These are plenty powerful for that kind of use model, and it is the reason why neither console maker bothered future-proofing the hardware like they did the last 2 generations.

As for 4K sets, black friday is already going to bring $5000 80" 4K TVs, even without sales you can already pick up a 50" 4K for a mere $1200 (granted with questionable quality). The prices are dropping extremely quickly, and adoption is going to be faster than most people are predicting. It is no big deal right now, but in a mere 2-3 years then this is going to be a large problem if the consoles do not have proper up-scaling capabilities. I mean, these things can barely crank out 1080p on midrange dedicated hardware! That's just sad!

A real gaming PC is not cheap. I'll agree with anyone on that. But large volumes of high quality cheap games more than makes up any hardware expenditures. Plus no multiplayer taxes, and a great indie community, and the ability to use the best controller for a game (be it keys, mice, controllers, joystick, gestures, or even mind control).

Anywho, I am not saying that consoles will not do well, because they are going to have an awesome launch. And I don't begrudge the console refresh either as the old consoles have been holding back gaming for several years now. All that I am saying is that in 3-5 years when consoles are outstripped in raw horsepower by tablets and phones which can also subscribe to off-site game streaming services (and connect to controllers and TVs), then there becomes a very real problem for why anyone would want or need a console. These things are going to have very short lives indeed.

RE: Ps4 - peasant box 4?
By Reclaimer77 on 11/16/2013 8:12:25 AM , Rating: 3
These things are going to have very short lives indeed.

No they aren't.

You people just don't get it. Consoles exist in their own ecosystem. People don't buy them and then go "oh but I can do X on the PC, this sucks". That doesn't happen.

Graphics? The Wii had sh*t graphics and sold how many consoles?

The prices are dropping extremely quickly, and adoption is going to be faster than most people are predicting.

There's like little to no consumer available native 4k resolution media available. Everyone is predicting 4k taking a loooonggg time to go mainstream. So what makes your predictions more accurate than everyone else?

you can already pick up a 50" 4K for a mere $1200

The Seiki? It has WORST picture quality at any resolution than the cheapest HDTV lol. Come on be serious.

A real gaming PC is not cheap. I'll agree with anyone on that. But large volumes of high quality cheap games more than makes up any hardware expenditures.


People want to sit on the couch and play games. They don't want to deal with building their own PC's, playing with software all day, and all of the other chores that come with PC gaming.

I love PC gaming. I don't even own an Xbox 360 and I doubt I'll own either next gen. However you guys are making PC gamers look like elitist assholes who can't see past their own bias.

RE: Ps4 - peasant box 4?
By purerice on 11/17/2013 1:53:09 AM , Rating: 2
Thank you. Some people don't get it. Yes, I would LOVE to see in the next 5 years, somebody sitting at Walden Pond with their smart phone getting 1 bar waiting for offloaded GPU to load graphics. It would give them something to ponder about.

RE: Ps4 - peasant box 4?
By Belard on 11/19/2013 6:36:25 AM , Rating: 1
Some of the problems with PC gaming is the junk or drm that is bundled. The lack of AAA titles and that many PC games look no better than the consoles they were ported from.

I rarely buy PC games anymore. And since my new wife has hooked her console to my (our) 60" HDTV, I'm finding that gaming with others in the living room to be a more positive experience with her and other guests. I just hope and wish that console game developers would support proper keyboard and mouse support. I still cannot control FPS worth a damn with a console controller... The accuracy is shit compared to my mouse... But maybe I can learn...?

I plan on getting another gaming card next year... To last me another 5+ years. But primary game purchases will be for our future PS4. Simple gaming... Fun is the goal.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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