Pros: Powerful hardware, beautiful UI, wonderfully improved controller, size, price
Cons: Media capabilities
The Playstation 4...from its sharp, modern design to its smooth, gorgeous UI, the PS4 is pure joy from start to finish.
The first thing I noticed about the PS4 compared to other consoles is it's size. It's tiny...but in a good way, not in a "a medium-sized gust of wind would break this in a second" way. In all seriousness, I'm amazed at how Sony was able to pack so much gaming power in such a small package. It looks sharp sitting on my components shelf, more like a piece of modern art than a gaming console. Definitely a fan of the design. Additionally, you can position the unit vertically if you have limited space or just like the look of it. The PS4's dimensions are approximately 10.8" x 12" x 2", so you may want to measure before you decide whether you will want/need the vertical stand or not.
The PS4 couldn't be any easier to set up. Plug in the power cord, an HDMI cable, and ethernet if you want a wired internet connection (Wi-Fi connection is also an option), and you're ready to go. Upon startup you're immediately greeted by a visually and audibly pleasing UI; very clean with soothing music in the background. I'm pretty sure I just sat there and let it soak in for a few minutes, as the LG 50PA6500 plasma TV and 5.1 surround sound system I was using with the PS4 made its beauty shine through.
As I moved around the home screen the first thing I noticed was that the Playstation Store is now incorporated into the UI. It is no longer an application to be launched. What a great move! It makes navigating the store much more pleasurable and intuitive.
The PS4 requires you to install games to the HD, at least partially. At first this seemed like a bother, but after loading a few games (Battlefield 4, Killzone: Shadow Fall, and NBA 2k14) I was incredibly pleased at how quickly the games booted to full quality. Taking a few minutes at first boot to get it installed is well worth it in my opinion.
The biggest factor that drew me to purchasing the PS4, however, was the advantage it has over all other consoles in terms of graphics. The PS4 has 8GB GDDR5 RAM, whereas the Xbox One has 8GB DDR3 RAM. The PS4 takes the edge in this capacity, although you may hear differently depending on who you talk to...but this is a technical fact. The PS4 can easily handle 1080p resolution at 60fps and look glorious in every way. Walking around in Killzone: Shadow Fall is delay-free and absolutely stunning.
The Dualshock 4 controller is also vastly improved over the DS3 with the addition of a touchpad in the middle of the controller and a built-in speaker. Both of these are used for various things depending on the game being played. Killzone: Shadow Fall uses the touchpad to control your drone-like machine and the speaker is used when activating certain in-game audio events. Additionally, the DS4 has a headphone jack built into the body, so working with teammates online is a breeze. These features add to the immersion into the game, a real homerun for Sony.
Another great addition for the PS4 is the ability to stream your gameplay for sites such as Twitch.tv by use of the "Share" button that has taken the place of the "Select" button of old. This is a very neat feature and allows you to connect with the PS4 community in a whole new way.
A seemingly small feature perhaps was the most impressive to me, and that is the ability to quickly switch between applications/games. If I am watching a show on Netflix and suddenly get the urge to play a game, I hit the PS button in the middle of the controller and I'm instantly taken to the UI home page, where then I can select the game I wish to play and can start it almost instantly. This makes is much easier to use all the features of the PS4, adding much to the appeal of the console.
Despite the overwhelming positives of the PS4, there is at least one glaring negative: media integration. I was disappointed in the lack of DLNA support, and the Xbox One seems to have the edge if you're looking for a "complete entertainment console". To some, this is enough for them to choose an Xbox One; for others such as myself, it is unfortunate but the raw power advantage swayed me toward the PS4. As expected, the PS4 can play Blu-Ray discs, as well as DVDs, and has applications for Netflix and Amazon Instant, as well as various other media streaming services. Content streaming works flawlessly and Blu-Ray playback is as perfect as I have seen, although I expected nothing less from Sony on this front.
A feature that I have not had the pleasure of exploring yet, but one that I have heard rave reviews about, is the ability to "remote play" with a Playstation Vita. According to friends that have used it, the function operates remarkably well with no perceptible lag. They describe it as feeling as if they are playing the game directly on the Vita. Hopefully soon I will join them in Vita ownership and be able to try this out for myself!
Overall, the Playstation 4 seems to have more of an emphasis on gaming, with media options taking the backseat. To contrast, the Xbox One appears to be geared more as a "total media" hub with the ability to play games, watch TV, listen to music, etc.music etc. If you are looking for a console with the capability to throw you headfirst into a completely immersive gaming experience, look no further than the Playstation 4.
Overall rating: 4.5 stars
Features: 4 stars
Value: 5 stars
Design: 5 stars
Video Quality: 5 stars
Remote (Controller): 4.5 stars
Audio Quality: 5 stars
What comes in the box:
PlayStation 4 System
Dualshock 4 Wireless Controller
USB Charging Cable