To say video gamers have been eagerly awating Sony's Playstation 4 would be an understatement. The PS4 hits stores this Friday for $399, while Microsoft's Xbox One, another new video game system, will be available next week for $499. With Microsoft hot on Sony's heels, both gamers and nongamers alike will be asking one burning question: which gaming system should I buy? It's a bit too early to call until we can compare the two side-by-side, but for now we've got you covered with our first impressions of Sony's sleek entry.
Console and Controller Design
The PS4 looks like something that might come out of an Apple design lab, though completely in black instead of white. The power and eject buttons are incorporated directly along the front of the console's sloped edges, with the CD drive and USB ports hidden between the two buttons. For Playstation users that like keeping their console upright, Sony sells a separate stand that stabilizes the PS4 for $14.99.
The Playstation 4's new controller, the Dualshock 4, isn't as minimalist as the console, but comes with a several ergonomic improvements that make it more comfortable that Sony's Playstation 3 controllers. The trigger buttons are slightly indented to conform to players' index fingers, while the dual analog sticks have a slightly elevated rim that keeps players' thumbs from slipping off. The controller isn't heavy, but still feels solid.
Aside from more comfort, the Dualshock 4 controller has plenty of bells and whistles. The controller's embedded speaker comes in surprisingly loud and clear (if a little tinny). The touchpad that dominates much of the space between the directional pad and buttons is smooth to the touch and responsive as well.
Customers that also bought the $59.99 Playstation Camera can point their controller's light bar at the camera. The camera then tracks the position of the brightly colored light bar. In addition to position tracking, the controller has motion tracking, detecting the orientation of the controller as it's tilted left and right and rocked back and forth.
We did experience some hardware problems with our first review unit, such as freezing while in game and refusing to boot up from the system's standby mode. These issues have made playing with the video game system less a labor of love, and more like a labor. However, that hasn't stopped us from digging into the system's interface and games. We will be receiving another unit soon to see if these hardware problems persist and will update this article at that time.
Navigating the PS4's clean menus is easy. After creating a system account, Playstation users are taken to a personalized home screen that includes recent games they have played, as well as the game activity of other Playstation users that they have befriended. A Sony representative said that customers can download software updates and downloadable content for their games straight from the home screen, instead of having to navigate through several menus. However, no online features were thoroughly tested at the time of this review.