Sunday 23 November 2014

10 things you probably didn’t know about the new PS4

Published 03/12/2013 | 23:04

Sony said software sales of the console continue to be strong, with more than 20.5 million copies sold
The Sony PlayStation 4 with PlayStation Camera

THE PS4'S only been out a few days but it's already sold out. Here's a few things to ponder as you await stock to trickle back into the shops.

DON'T LOOK BACK

LIKE the Xbox One, you can forget about playing your old games on PS4. Unlike the last generation, this is simply no backward compatibility – unless you count a handful of PS3 games (such as Flower) that are available for download.

Sony has teased the possibility of streaming older games via the cloud – but the latest rumours suggest it could be sometime in 2015 before Europe gets a bite of this cherry.

In short, don’t sell off your PS3 yet.

BIG SCREEN, SMALL SCREEN

IF someone’s hogging the telly and you’re dying to play PS4, don’t forget a PS Vita can connect wirelessly, enabling you play almost any game (or activity) on its small screen.

Naturally, this doesn’t always produce great visual results – and the controls don’t map exactly either. But as Wii U owners already know, a second screen can be a real boon when the big screen is in demand.

Similarly, free apps for Android and iOS enable some functions (such as browsing the PlayStation Store or entering text)  on your phone or tablet. You could set up downloads while away from home and they’d be ready by the time you stepped in the door.

GET AHEAD, GET A GOOD HEADSET

SONY includes a rather rubbish headset free with every PS4 but mercifully ensures the console uses a standard headphone connector – meaning you can you can upgrade to a far better one at your convenience, or use one you already have.

HEAR ME ROAR

IF YOU shell out €60 extra for the PS Camera, the PS4 acquires similar voice-recognition powers as that of Xbox One. Well, we say similar but really we mean not nearly as good.

Barking “PlayStation” at the camera while on the Home screen enables you to start a game or activity with your voice. But the possibilities quickly peter out from there, limited to turning off the console or taking a screenshot, basically.

The other uses for the camera so far are debatable – unless you’re keen to show your face as you stream your gameplay to the world via Twitch or uStream.

PREPARE TO PAY

PS3 owners snigger at the annual subscription required for Xbox Live multiplayer on 360 – but the chickens have come home to roost in this latest generation. Sony has decided that online multiplayer requires an annual €60 fee on PS4.

However, PS4 does permit more activities (such as Netflix and Twitch streaming) than Xbox One without the need to pony up for an extra sub.

MUSIC? WHAT IS THAT?

PERHAPS Sony is confidently predicting the death of the CD – if you shove a music disc into the PS4’s drive, it gives a shrug and ignores it. Similarly, the machine has no interest in playing MP3s. Score one for Xbox One here because it plays audio CDs and MP3s (but only streamed from a computer or mobile device).

Sony has denied the restrictions are intended to push its Spotify-like subscription service called Music Unlimited, which costs €10 a month for all you can eat on PS4 and other devices. But it does concede it may add MP3/audio CD support in a patch.

VIDEO? WHAT’S THAT?

SONY has offered its video store in several countries on PS3 for many years. Sadly, though PS4 owners in the UK elsewhere can sign up for the Video Unlimited service, here in Ireland we’re still the poor relation.

That’s even more maddening because, besides Netflix and IGN (game videos), there is no on-demand video service on PS4. No RTE Player, nothing. Sort it, Sony.

I’M STUFFED

STORAGE space will be a massive problem for PS4 and Xbox One because both consoles insist games be fully installed to their 500GB hard drives. That sounds a lot but with many games hitting 40GB each or more, the drives will soon fill up, leaving you to delete your older games.

Neither console supports external drives but if you’re handy with a screwdriver, you can always upgrade the internal drive in the PS4 (but not the Xbox One).

FACE-PALM

SHARING your video clips of great gameplay can quickly become addictive but it was a boneheaded idea to restrict this just to Facebook. Not everyone likes Zuckerberg’s juggernaut and the option of YouTube uploads would have been ideal.

There are probably complicated workarounds involving Twitch live-streams but it wouldn’t hurt Sony to broaden the choices for sharing.

GAMES ANYWHERE

IF any of your mates own a PS4, you can sign in to your PSN account at their gaff and all your digital games will be available there to download (saves and all). That’s magic for a gaming night.

Of course, when you sign out, it all vanishes into pixie dust, which is probably what you want anyway. But your saves and everything else are carried back to your home machine. In fairness, Xbox One can do the same.

 

HERE'S SONY'S LIST OF PS4's HIDDEN TALENTS

 

 

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