Yesterday, Sony held their first PlayStation meeting since 2013 (when they announced the PlayStation 4). This time, the company revealed an upgraded PlayStation 4 console, one that has been rumored for months: the PlayStation 4 Pro (previously codenamed the PlayStation 4 Neo).
The new console will hit the market on November 10, 2016, at a price of $399. This will be a $100 increase over the standard PS4 console, which will drop to $299 later this month, as well as the PS4 Slim.
So now the big question on every PlayStation gamer’s mind is whether or not they should trade in their old PS4 in favor of upgrading to the PS4 Pro. There are many important factors to consider in this decision, as well as for those who are trying to choose between the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One S (both of which are currently vying for superiority), such as cost effectiveness and how many PS4 Pro games will be available. Modern gaming is an expensive hobby, so to help you determine how to best allocate your funds, we have compiled a list of five fast facts you need to know before buying a PlayStation 4 Pro.
You can preorder the PlayStation 4 Pro here.
1. The Pro is Meant to Complement the PS4, Not Replace it
Sony has made a point of telling consumers that this new console is not the PlayStation 5. In a post-show interview with PlayStation Blog following yesterday’s PlayStation Meeting, Lead System Architect Mark Cerny said, “PS4 Pro is not the start of a new console generation, nor is it a console that’s going to blur the lines between generations.” Rather, it’s meant to be a higher-end, luxury console meant to “stand alongside and complement the original PS4”. Sony was going for more of a mid-cycle upgrade to incorporate newer technology, rather than the cost and disruption that comes along with an entirely new console generation.
What this means, essentially, is that there won’t be any PlayStation 4 Pro exclusives; both consoles will have access to the same games, they will just look better on the Pro. The fundamental gameplay, however, will be exactly the same, and players will have access to the same communities and features. Many existing PS4 games will be patched to be compatible with the PS4 Pro, and developers are being encouraged to make future games with both consoles in mind.
Sony wants to ensure that PS4 Pro owners don’t have an advantage in online play, either. Naughty Dog lead developer Christian Gyrling told Polygon that PlayStation has a number of requirements for developers to ensure the same online experience, chief among them that the framerate must be identical for both systems. So while the resolution may be higher on the PS4 Pro, the framerate and lag will be exactly the same. The only obvious advantage from the higher resolution is that sniping players from a long distance may be slightly easier.
2. It Will Be 4K and HDR Capable
Users with 4K and HDR-capable TVs will be able to take full advantage of that capability with the PS4 Pro. Mark Cerny said that Sony’s goal is to “take the PS4 experience to extraordinary new levels” by increasing visual fidelity. It’s targetted toward users that don’t mind shelling out several hundred dollars every couple years for the latest technological advances; it will provide such users with graphical enhancements, more storage space, and increased power, but is not strictly necessary to continue playing the latest games.
It will also support 4K video playback for streaming services such as Netflix and Youtube. In fact, there will be a new Netflix app available with over 600 hours of 4K streaming. To utilize this service, you will need to upgrade your Netflix subscription to include Ultra HD; this plan is priced at $11.99/month (a $3 increase over the next cheapest plan), and also includes streaming to 4 screens at once.
3. You Don’t Need a 4K or HDR TV to Enjoy Graphical Upgrades
You might be tempted to write off the PS4 Pro because you don’t own a 4K or HDR TV, but there will still be appreciable improvements in graphics quality on standard HDTVs. It will deliver 1080p resolution for all PS4 games as well as a higher or more stable framerate for some titles. Games will be able to detect what display you are using and tailor the visual experience accordingly. According to GameSpot, Sony is “asking publishing partners to consider how they can best use PS4 Pro on standard HDTVs and 4K”.
So, even if you only own a standard HDTV, there are still reasons to consider upgrading to the PS4 Pro. There will be a noticeable improvement in graphics on all displays, in addition to double the storage space and faster processing speeds. And of course, should you choose to upgrade your TV in the future, you’ll be good to go with 4K and HDR compatibility.
4. It Will Not Play 4K Blu-Rays
Any mention of Ultra Blu-ray discs was conspicuously absent from the conference, and Engadget confirmed with the company afterward that the console will not have an Ultra Blu-ray drive; there will only be DVD and standard Blu-ray support. This is a surprising move on Sony’s part, but apparently they wanted the focus to be on 4K streaming.
It should be noted that the Xbox One S has support for both 4K streaming and 4K Blu-ray discs, and pricing for the Microsoft console starts at $100 less than the PS4 Pro. There are other differences between the consoles, however, so whether the price increase is justified will be determined by the consumer when November rolls around. Undoubtedly, though, Xbox will use this as a major selling point for the Xbox One S going forward.
The PS4 Pro will, however, provide auto-upscaling for standard Blu-ray discs.
5. All PS4 Consoles Will Be Updated for HDR Support
If HDR (high dynamic range) is your main reason for upgrading to the new console, consider that PlayStation will be releasing an update next week that will bring HDR support to all existing PS4 systems (standard PS4 and PS4 Slim). This is an interesting move considering it invalidates one of the major reasons for trading up, but it’s nice to see that Sony isn’t forgetting about standard PS4 users.
HDR is a relatively new technology that significantly increases both contrast ratio (how bright and dark the colors can get) and color accuracy (how true the colors are to real life). There is a big difference between this and 4K; 4K TVs increase the number of pixels, providing viewers with a sharper image, but HDR improves the quality of that image in a noticeable way. 4K is more of a subtle improvement, whereas HDR really provides that “Wow!” factor. While 4K (or Ultra High Definition) TVs have seen a rise in popularity recently, HDR is likely to be the next big thing in television, and PlayStation 4 users will be set when it takes off.
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