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On September 7th, Sony announced at their PlayStation Meeting that they would be releasing two major upgrades for the PlayStation 4. During their rather sedate conference, Sony showed off the PS4 Slim and the PS4 Pro.
They made it very clear that these products were going to augment rather than replace the PlayStation 4, which we reviewed in 2013. Still, it’s clear that gamers will have to spend a lot of money on one of these two devices if they want to experience this newer, more powerful PlayStation standard.
But is it worth the money, either for gamers who already own the PlayStation 4, or those who haven’t taken the plunge? Here are the details of the conference, and what they mean for gamers and their wallets.
Note: All prices cited are in U.S. dollars.
The first thing that Sony revealed during the conference was the new “slim” version of the PS4. The leaks and rumors all appear to have been accurate. This is the second slim console announced for this generation of consoles.
And here are a few of the lighter, slimmer standard PS4. pic.twitter.com/10QKZ01I9i
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) September 7, 2016
The Slim will be about 30% smaller than its older brother, but will otherwise be the same console. It’s also the “new standard” for the PS4, which presumably means it’ll be the primary one manufactured going forward. It also comes with a new DualShock 4 controller which has a light bar where the player can more easily see it.
The PS4 Slim does nothing to really endear itself to Sony fans. It’s hardware isn’t enough to sell it to those who already own a PS4. It isn’t even that much smaller — it’s still almost 4″ wider than it’s other competitor, the Wii U. The Slim was so unassuming that it was all but forgotten during the next announcement.
However, the Slim seems to be aimed at those who do not already own a PS4, and aren’t interested in the flashier item that Sony announced next. If you don’t own a PS4 but wish you did, the Slim is a good option. The PS4 Slim will be available to buy on September 15th for $299.
The major feature of the show was the unveiled PS4 Pro, formerly known as the Neo. This is a new, more powerful PS4 designed to run games at 4K resolution with HDR graphics.
The PS4 Pro specs, released just after the conference, indicate it’ll be fairly powerful — more so than the original machine. Sony proudly showed the beauty of the graphics with Horizon Zero Dawn, For Honor, and Uncharted 4.
PS4 Pro specs: pic.twitter.com/5QAs2SLxlm
— Erik Kain (@erikkain) September 7, 2016
The conference focused mostly on the visual power of the Pro.The aforementioned games were shown in allegedly improved resolutions and framerates (it was hard to tell on a Twitch livestream). Also, PlayStation VR was only mentioned in the briefest of words, but supposedly the Pro will better support VR graphics than the original PS4.
What they showed certainly looked very pretty. Here’s footage of Mass Effect Andromeda running on a PS4 Pro:
That said, there were three key words missing at the show: frames per second. No one actually said whether the PS4 Pro will be able to play all of its games at a 60+ FPS framerate. With the specs it has, I would certainly hope so.
The PS4 Pro will be available to buy on November 10th and will cost $399 or £349 in the UK, the same initial price as the original PS4.
What Do PlayStation Fans Get?
There was one thing that was offered to all PS4 owners: a firmware update that will make all PS4s HDR-compatible. We’ve spoken before about the appeal of HDR (high dynamic range) video and compatible televisions. It’s very refreshing to know that every PS4 owner will get this particular upgrade for free.
However, if you don’t have a 4K or HDR TV, you aren’t likely to be affected by this change. Also, they have not specified which HDR standard they mean.
Just announced: every PS4 will be HDR compatible
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) September 7, 2016
This also applies to the new PS4 Pro and Slim in general. It’s understandable if you don’t have a 4K TV: until relatively recently even we considered it a waste of money. But the whole appeal of these new PS4s is that they will make games prettier, and that can’t be done without the appropriate display.
Also, the PS4 Pro lacks an Ultra HD Blu-ray drive. This might not seem like a very big deal, considering the PS4 could already play regular Blu-ray. But if this was something you were hoping for — especially since the Xbox One S has one — it is disappointing.
What Does This Mean for Xbox?
There was definitely an undercurrent of competition to the PlayStation Meeting. Both of their new products sounded very similar to both the Xbox One S and Project Scorpio. And apparently Xbox was watching.
— Xbox (@Xbox) September 7, 2016
So what does this mean for Xbox owners and fans? The simple answer is: nothing much, because the PS4 Pro just isn’t as tempting as what Xbox is offering. The final tally of common capabilities between the two consoles leaves both the PS4 Slim and the PS4 Pro lacking something. The lack of ability to play UHD Blu-ray is the most obvious sticking point.
The Xbox One S (CA/UK) also costs less than the PS4 Pro, and is the same price as the PS4 Slim. It boasts the same upgrades as both machines — 4K compatible, smaller than the original — and in one package. And while we don’t know much for sure about Scorpio, its reported power eclipses that of the PS4 Pro.
That said, there is one advantage that both PS4 devices have over the Scorpio: they are both coming this year, and before Christmas at that. The Scorpio will not be available until late 2017. The Xbox One S is currently available, and it remains to be seen how the two will compete during the Christmas season.
What do you think of the PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro? Are you excited or disappointed? Will you be buying either one? Let us know in the comments section below!