Don't let its compact, diminutive chassis fool you; the Sony PlayStation 4 packs plenty of gaming power under the hood. The new DualShock 4 controller earns much praise from reviewers. But while gamers will be thrilled -- eventually -- the PS4 isn't the best choice as a multimedia hub for your living room.
The pinnacle of next-generation power. Experts and owners say the Sony PlayStation 4 is a powerful gaming console with a hardware lineup that competes favorably with gaming-oriented PCs. CNET spells out the particulars: 8 GB of DDR5 RAM, a low-power x86-64 Jaguar eight-core CPU, and a Radeon Next engine GPU (graphics). There's also a 500 GB hard drive that's user replaceable.
Most experts say that games look terrific on the PS4, with graphics performance that nips the rival Microsoft Xbox One (Est. $500) on titles available on both platforms. Reviewers say that the PS4 boots up relatively quickly and initial out-of-the-box setup is pretty painless, though you have to download the appropriate patches and updates the first time you power up the video game console.
While the PS4 may have more than enough horsepower to handle the most complex games, the lineup of titles right now is anything but impressive. That's not a surprise for a new video game console, and the competing Xbox One is in a similar place. Given Sony's and Microsoft's gaming history, expect both situations to greatly improve over time. For now, however, the lack of titles is what keeps some reviewers from giving their unbridled recommendation to the PS4.
Unlike the Xbox One, there is no motion or voice sensor bundled with the PS4. The PlayStation Camera (Est. $70) can be had for an extra cost. While it works well, the PlayStation Camera is not as essential for the PS4 as the similar Kinect accessory is for the Xbox One, and relatively few games make use of it.
Lost features. The Sony PlayStation 4 drops many of the media-centric features that made its predecessor, the PS3, such a versatile and potent home-entertainment device. It still has a built-in Blu-ray Disc player, but gone is support for 3D movies. Sony has also stripped out CD audio playback, the ability to play back MP3 files, and support for streaming content from a DLNA device, such as a PC.
You can still stream content from the Internet, however, and the PS4 boasts a good stable of streaming partners, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, RedBox Instant by Verizon, and more. Editors at Polygon.com note that streaming and content downloads run smoothly. Wi-Fi is built in, but the lack of support for the latest 802.11ac wireless standard is a disappointment to see on a latest-generation consumer electronics device.
Premium looks. Experts and owners alike laud the Sony PlayStation 4's sleek, angular design. Editors at Polygon.com call it "Sony's most attractively designed piece of hardware," praising its half-matte, half-gloss black finish. The power supply is internal, and reviewers particularly like not having to lug around an unwieldy power brick, one advantage the PS4 holds over the Xbox One. It can stand either horizontally or vertically, and charges controllers via USB. Connectivity is all-digital; the analog video and audio outputs of the PS3 are gone. There are no infrared (IR) sensors for using a universal remote (PS4 peripherals, like the PS3, use Bluetooth to communicate).
Sony's latest controller, the DualShock 4, earns high marks from reviewers. The controller itself is sleek and slightly curved, and so are the trigger buttons. The joysticks are appropriately spaced from each other, and are shaped to grip your thumbs better than the PS3's DualShock 3 controller. Experts say the controller improves on the Sixaxis motion-control technology found in Sony's earlier controllers, though there aren't many games available to showcase this yet.
Judging from reviews, the user interface is a welcome improvement to the PS3's. It's quick, with little lag between scrolling through or switching between menus. You can even access most console settings without having to quit your game. The biggest caveat we spotted is that it's a bit disorganized, but this typically isn't a problem unless you download lots of games or other content.
CNET editor Jeff Bakalar reviews the Sony PlayStation 4, giving it 3.5 stars out of 5. While he says it offers "beautiful" graphics, a "blazing" interface and a "near-perfect" controller, he laments the current lack of triple-A titles available, as well as Sony's decision to drop several media-playback features.
Review: PlayStation 4 Review, Jeff Bakalar, Feb. 6, 2014
The Sony PlayStation 4 earns a score of 7.5 out of 10 at Polygon.com. The review here is in-depth, succinct and covers all the major areas of the console. Editors praise the system overall, but note the "distinct lack of compelling software" available for it currently.
Review: PlayStation 4: The Review, Editors of Polygon.com, Not Dated
Will Greenwald reviews the Sony PlayStation 4 for PCMag.com, giving it 4 stars out of 5 as well as an Editors' Choice nod. Analysis is based on hands-on testing and includes a video review. "It's a game system at heart, and a very good one at that…" Greenwald writes.
Review: Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4), Will Greenwald, Nov. 19, 2013
Writer Ben Gilbert gives the Sony PlayStation 4 a rating of 83 out of 100. He praises its performance, "beautiful" design and controller. Caveats include weak controller battery life as well as the current selection of available games. Analysis here is in-depth and includes a video review.
Review: PlayStation 4 Review, Ben Gilbert, Nov. 14, 2013
Chris Kohler compares and contrasts the Sony PlayStation 4 to the Microsoft Xbox One in this article for Wired. It's a particularly useful resource for those torn between the two consoles. Other informative articles on the PS4 are also posted on the site.
Review: Which Should You Buy: Xbox One or PlayStation 4? Yes., Chris Kohler, Nov. 22, 2013
The Sony PlayStation 4 scores a bit higher at IGN.com than both the Microsoft Xbox One and Nintendo Wii U. Writer Scott Lowe calls it "compact, gorgeous, and powerful with promising features built for the future." This review features oodles of hands-on video analysis.
Review: PS4 Review: Better, Faster, Stronger, Scott Lowe, Nov. 13, 2013
Alex Roth covers the Sony PlayStation 4 in great detail in this eight-page review at TechRadar.com. It earns an overall score of 4 stars out of 5, but also receives sub-ratings based on design, features, performance, usability and value. Analysis is very competent but a bit technical.
Review: Sony PS4 Review, Alex Roth, Dec. 20, 2013
DigitalTrends.com gives the Sony PlayStation 4 a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 and an Editors' Choice award. "Sleeker, faster and more flexible than ever, [the PS4] turns out to be a formidable force in the living room," writes Ryan Fleming.
Review: Sony PlayStation 4 Review, Ryan Fleming, Nov. 13, 2013
Roughly 6,500 owners post feedback on the Sony PlayStation 4 at Amazon.com, where the console earns an overall score of 4.1 stars out of 5. While feedback is mostly positive overall, it's worth noting that more than 1,200 users post 1-star reviews, some of which cite quality control issues.
Review: PlayStation 4 Console, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2014
More 6,500 owners review the Sony PlayStation 4 at retailer BestBuy.com. The console fares much better here than at Amazon.com; it earns an overall score of 4.7 stars out of 5, and 96 percent of users would recommend the product to a friend.
Review: Sony -- PS4 500GB Console, Contributors to BestBuy.com, As of March 2014