One week ago, Sony held a press conference in New York to talk about what was then referred to as Playstation Neo. Unfortunately, this event immediately followed the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 keynote. Going up against the juggernaut that is an Apple event, the announcements from Sony went slightly under the radar. Regardless, it's been a busy week for Sony's gaming division. Let's review some of the new hardware.
Sony didn't waste any time getting right into it, announcing the PS4 Slim just a few minutes into taking the stage. Andrew House described it as "slimmer, lighter, and more energy efficient" and stated that the PS4 Slim will now be the new base model. Meaning, the existing PS4 systems out today will be discontinued. Shipping on September 15th, the PS4 Slim will retail for $299, and comes in at roughly 40% smaller than it's predecessor. This was mostly expected, especially considering the release of the Xbox One S a month ago, Sony needed to match the competition.
The specifications of the PS4 Slim are equivalent to that of the existing PS4 model, just in a smaller footprint. One thing to note about the PS4 Slim, and all PS4 models, is that Sony will be making HDR available to everyone via a software update later this year. While you will need to upgrade to the PS4 Pro for true 4k gaming, those with the standard PS4 will still be able to take full advantage of the hardware they do have.
You may also notice in the image above, that there is a new DualShock 4 included with the console. The controller is nearly identical to the current version. The only differences are the light bar is visible from the top of the controller, instead of just head on. This allows the player holding the controller to see the light. The controller will also now transfer data when plugged in via USB, instead of strictly charging. This means you can plug in when playing an FPS to remove any potential lag there may be between the console and the controller.
Gearing up for the launch of the Playstation VR next month, Sony announced a more powerful PS4 console, the PS4 Pro. Out of the box, the PS4 Pro will support 4K with HDR, pushing the boundaries of what modern displays are capable of. The GPU has received the largest upgrade we've seen in a same generation console update; increasing in performance by more than 50%. While it's quite obvious that the PS4 Pro will be, at least recommended, if not required, for the PlayStation VR, I fully anticipate the adoption rate of PSVR to be fairly slow. For those that weren't able to secure a PSVR pre-order, or just aren't interested, Sony and the PlayStation team have been working with first and third party studios to deliver content that takes full advantage of the new specifications of the PS4 Pro.
To highlight the graphical power of the PS4 Pro, Sony showed a jaw dropping demo of the upcoming Spiderman game we saw at E3. The New York city streets look incredible; the lighting and the shadows are by far the best I've ever seen, and the draw distance rivals that of the highest end gaming PC rigs. The clarity is simply unmatched, and I cannot wait to see what Naughty Dog and Quantic Dream are able to accomplish with the upgraded hardware. During a short demo of Lara Croft, they talked about emotional immersion, and for once during one of these pressers, I could feel exactly what they were talking about and it wasn't all smoke and mirrors. Sony offered plenty of other demos highlighting HDR and the boost the PS4 Pro gives, which can be seen in the video from the keynote below:
The PS4 Pro will be available on November 10th for $399.
As Sony was leading up to the introduction of the PS4 Pro, one thing stood out to me. Andrew House talked about the current console generation in relation to advancements in technology. This is incredibly important for us as gamers. The industry leaders are realizing that the generations are shrinking in size, as technology advances quicker and quicker. With the release of "new" consoles like the Xbox One S and PS4 Pro, we are seeing these market giants extending the current generations by providing upgraded hardware without significant price hikes. Don't get me wrong, it is somewhat frustrating that I may need to shell out an additional $300-400 in order to stay current, but this isn't much different than upgrading from your GTX 970 to the new GTX 1080. Console gamers aren't used to this sort of constant upgradability, but that leads me to believe that Project Scorpio from Xbox, releasing Holiday 2017, will be built as a modular system, allowing you to go out and buy a new GPU and snap it in like an N64 rumble pak. With Xbox and PlayStation now being on different upgrade cycles, I'm curious to see how they influence each other and where the industry leads them. As always, it's completely up in the air of who will win this generation.
All in all, these console upgrades we're seeing are a great step in the right direction, and I am legitimately excited to see what experiences will be delivered to the living room in the next couple of years. We've seen Xbox hint at living room projectors, and Sony has been focused on VR. It truly is a great time to be a gamer and a techie.
What do you guys think of the PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro? Will you be picking up a PS4 Pro? Will you be using your PS4 Pro with the Playstation VR? Sound off in the comments below.
And be sure to be on the look out for our article on the PS4 System Software 4.0 Update, which is now available. There are a lot of new UI's to siphon through, sows'll be sure to let you know what to bother with, and what not to.