Tuesday, July 07, 2015

6 Months Followup: PS4

I've now had the PS4 for 6 months, and it seems like a decent time to follow up. At that time, I said that it was a terrible time to buy a PS4, since the game didn't have decent media features, and there weren't a ton of must-have games out yet. The PS3 was a better deal at the time.

At this time, I will revise my opinion, and recommend the PS4 over the PS3 now. What changed? Sony added the following features to the PS4:
  • Game suspend and resume. This is huge! I didn't realize how big a feature it was until it launched, and now I couldn't live without it. For one thing, it makes long games no longer a chore: even if the game doesn't provide a decent save feature (or good enough save points), you can always suspend the game, use "Rest Mode" on the PS4, and then resume uninterrupted the next time you boot up. Because the PS4 (especially with my Hybrid SSD upgrade) boots so much faster than a PC, it's become my favorite gaming box. Yes, the PC can hibernate (potentially), but I have yet to be able to do so consistently. Rest Mode does consume more power than a full power-off, but it's still cheap compared to my PC, which can't consistently hibernate without randomly turning on and draining power like crazy.
  • The PS4 now supports DLNA and full on MP3/MP4/MKV/AVI support. This is very much welcome and now brings the PS4 up to par with the PS3. By the way, what this means now is that if you have a remote play capable device (including several Xperia phones, tablets, and the Vita), you now have access to your entire media library while traveling anywhere you have an internet connection. No monthly fees like Plex.
Visit any video game web-site and there'll be a bunch of people complaining that the PS4 has no games. The reality, however, is that there are plenty of games out now for the current generation platform, and the PS4 is arguably the best experience for those not willing to sink at least a thousand dollars into a desktop PC. And even that desktop PC, if it has to drive a high resolution monitor, might still not offer a nicer looking visual than a PS4 connected up to the TV. (The reason is that you tend to sit much closer to the PC than to the TV, and optimal viewing distance calculators will tell you why you need higher resolution whenever you sit closer)

There are folks who'd claim that you can build a gaming PC for about the same price as a PS4 (about $400). But every build I've seen neglects to include a Blu Ray player, for instance. We use the blu ray player quite a bit, so I'd say that the PS4 is still great value for money. And of course, you'd have to add another $50 for a Steam controller if you want the couch experience.

On top of that, as console programmers start to use the 8GB of DDR5 available on the PS4, I think we'll start to see low end video cards start to suffer from lack of VRAM. I think those who were disappointed by the relatively low-end specs of the PS4 are underestimating the bandwidth requirements that will be an issue in future games.

Add in remote play (coming to the PC in the fall in the form of SteamLink), a great controller, and the fact that you can current play Arkham Knight on the PS4 with a great experience but can't yet on the PC, and I think that Sony has made a compelling story for the PS4.

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