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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 TheJian on 11/16/2013 11:46:11 PM , Rating: 2
7970ghz edition is less powerful than a PS4 gpu? Smoking magic console fairy dust or something?

Maybe you really mean somewhere around 7870?

If I have a 7970ghz I won't be turning much off at 1080p, while PS4 is already upscaling some stuff just to get to 1080p, and even then not targeting 60fps for most games. The 7970ghz edition runs circles around PS4 or xbox1. There is no comparison even after accounting for SUPER 7TH YEAR CONSOLE OPTIMIZATIONS once they know the platforms inside/out :) It's not like PC game devs are completely stupid while using the same AMD/NV hardware year after year. Most years are just slightly enhanced models from the year before on PC, amped up with more cores (possibly if die is shrunk too), some clock speed bumps and a few extra features. PC devs are not learning whole new platforms yearly.

Sorry, consoles this gen are underpowered, or they wouldn't be upscaling ANY game EVER to 1080p they would be running EVERY game at 1080p natively. That is already not the case. You would think games would not be limited until they are pushing the platform in 5-7yrs with more taxing engines etc, but we are already hitting limits and negotiating effects etc to get the games playable from day 1. Not cool in year 1 (week 1?...LOL). On top, there are some games where a 7970ghz edition can actually pump out 1600p.

Not quite sure how you expect a $400 console (with a gamepad etc) to catch a $350 vid card with 3GB of local memory (on top of another 8-32GB of main ram etc). Even a badly coded game would probably be faster on 7970ghz edition based PC. PS4 has what, 1152 shaders and runs 800mhz, vs 2048 on 7970 running 1ghz (1050 boost) pushing 250watts? PS4 cpu and gpu SHARE 176GB/s bandwidth from the GDDR5 @5.5ghz, where the 7970ghz has 6Ghz memory and 288GB/s all to itself. I could keep going but you should get the point. 7970ghz is VASTLY outclassing the lowly ps4 gpu :) We haven't even started talking about overclocking the card, just out of the box spec stuff here. On top of that you can get a 7970 that can catch a ghz edition for under $300 with a bit of overclocking already so again...Whatever. Did I mention PC's do more than games/movies?

RE: Ps4 - peasant box 4?
By purerice on 11/17/2013 2:30:37 AM , Rating: 2
Your horse seems a bit high for you to get down.

I neither have a PS3/XB360 or plan on getting the new ones but I leave myself open. Here are some problems with your logic.

Some launch games need to be upscaled, but not all games, especially on the PS4. Launch games are never fully optimized for the systems anyway. Most games a year from now will run just fine in 1080p and comparisons between XBO 720p upscaled and PS4 1080p native show little difference.

Consoles also have an advantage of having less OS overhead stealing system resources than Windows games have. Profit margins on $400 consoles are also lower than flagship GPUs despite advantages of scale, so a higher percentage of what you pay is in the system's performance.

With TV screens that consoles play at, there are no current plans to have intermediate resolutions of 1440p, 1600p, or anything else before 2160p or 4K. No broadcasts nor any streaming video standards support such resolutions either. So why do you need games to play at resolutions that don't match any TV they'd play on?

Please, if you are going to hate on consoles, at least pick rational arguments to hate on. Or better yet, just stop hating.

RE: Ps4 - peasant box 4?
By lexluthermiester on 11/17/2013 6:08:00 PM , Rating: 2
Are YOU high? His logic was impeccable! The PS4 GPU is nice, but doesn't hold a candle to the 7970 as was compared by the halfwit above. And really with the high-horse comment? Go buy a clue will ya?

Consoles also have an advantage of having less OS overhead stealing system resources than Windows games have.

Consoles have OS's as well, especially xbone which runs in the background ALL the damn time and is just a scaled down, recompiled version of Windows. PS4 has the lead in hardware, software and developer support. Microsoft has lost a ton of consumer and developer confidence in the past few years. Couple that with the rumors that the new CEO of MS could very likely shudder the Xbox altogether leads me to believe that it may be foolish to invest in the xbone.

In the console arena, Sony and Nintendo have the advantage right now. Those are the systems to have. As far as comparing PS4 to a PC; Honestly? When the frak is this argument going to die? PC's will ALWAYS out perform and out class consoles at the cost of needing more TLC and some hassle. END OF STORY!

RE: Ps4 - peasant box 4?
By ritualm on 11/19/2013 2:32:03 AM , Rating: 2
PC's will ALWAYS out perform and out class consoles at the cost of needing more TLC and some hassle.

Which is a big reason why consoles exist: put the disc into it and play the game - without having to worry about "why is my PC not hitting 60 fps?", "help! my gpu keeps throttling while playing BF4!", and other problems that PC gamers face daily.

If I'm short on time but want to game, the last thing I want to deal with is troubleshooting. Time is not something I have in great quantity these days. If it doesn't work mostly right on the first time I play it, I don't care how good PCs are compared to consoles. Don't like it? Take a hike please.

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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