A review of this year’s most anticipated console.

The next generation of gaming has arrived. The PlayStation 4 (PS4) was released this week, and the Xbox One will be released Friday. Through the last seven years, gaming consoles have transformed into living room hubs, through software updates and the constant evolution of gaming. During those seven years, Sony took notes and designed a console that would address the issues of the PlayStation 3 (PS3). The most noticeable addition is the DualShock 4, which is considered the best controller Sony has ever made. When the PS3 launched, it cost $200 more than the Xbox 360. This time, Sony’s product is listed at one hundred dollars less than the competition.

The PlayStation 4 is the more aesthetically appealing of the next generation consoles, with a sharp, angled profile, and a light bar that will act as a console status indicator. On the back, it only has HDMI and optical ports, with no analog audio or video outputs. With an internal power supply, it saves a lot of space behind the television.

Any PlayStation gamer can tell you that the DualShock 3 controller was very annoying. The sticks were too close together, too squishy, and for someone who has big hands it was difficult to use the controller for long periods of time. The new controller fits gently into the curve of your palm, and texture on the back allows for a strong grip without distraction. The most welcome addition is the headphone jack on the bottom of the controller, which supports any standard single-jack headset, even standard dollar store headphones. It also has a speaker in the middle of the controller, which is of better quality than the Nintendo Wii’s controller. Unfortunately, a majority of the launch titles have ignored this feature. The only downside of the controller is the battery life: I was only able to get seven hours of solid usage on a full charge, compared to a dozen hours prior. The new controller takes about three hours to charge fully, and can be charged on an idle PS4 or any USB port.

The home screen is a huge improvement from the previous consoles. Going through the menus with little lag was very refreshing, but the best change was that you can now skip the PS3’s PSN ID association process. You are now able to download your profile more easily on the PS4. 

With advantages come disadvantages: The camera-based voice commands are relatively useless so far, as all of the video apps, such as YouTube and Netflix, are in a sub-menu, which means that they are not able to be reached by voice command alone.

There is also a new system Sony instituted called Music Unlimited, a program that offers access to millions of songs, and with the purchase of the PS4, you get a free one-month trial. It is quite clunky so far, but the main issue is that that it is the only way to get outside music onto your system. It cannot read MP3s or CDs, so if you want to listen to music while you game, this is the only option. As always with new consoles, there will be hardware issues, with many PS4s having what is being dubbed as the “blue light of death” for which Sony has not yet discovered an easy solution.

With some updates and clean up, the PlayStation 4 has the potential to be an innovative and exciting console. In the meantime, the focus is on Microsoft.

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