You know that gauntlet thing? Well, it's just been thrown down by Sony, which finally revealed what the PlayStation 4 looks like, how it will handle used games, how much it will cost, and clarified some system specs. Not only that, but Sony chose to reveal all this just hours after Microsoft held its own Xbox One event at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3), as if issuing a direct challenge to the competing console maker. Sony has reason to be cocky.
Let's start with the design. It's been about four months since Sony unveiled its next generation game console at a press event. During that time, Sony talked a lot about the games, a little about the hardware, and nothing about the price or how the PS4 would look. Now we know.
Sony PlayStation 4
Sony ditched the curvaceous aesthetics that previous PlayStation consoles relied on and went with an angular motif, just as it previously teased in a video clip. A purple strip separates the towered, two-tone black design, while the console itself is slightly offset, adding a bit of subtle aggression to the motif. Still, it shouldn't have any trouble blending into a home theater setup, and it appears to be slightly slimmer than the Xbox One, though it's tough to tell without placing them side-by-side.
The PS4 can stand up vertically or lay flat horizontally, the latter of which makes it a little like a modern day VCR player (if the format were still around). You can see the two USB ports above, which are wedged in the middle of the console.
A view of the back gives a better idea of the offset, angled design. Gamers won't spend much time staring at the back of the PS4, which appears well ventilated. There's an optical port, HDMI output, Ethernet LAN port, and an auxiliary port in the back.
PlayStation 4 Versus Xbox One -- It's in the Hardware
Now that we have system specs from both the PS4 and Xbox One, we can compare the two and see which console is better equipped for the future. The hardware is especially important in consoles because these devices are built to last several years, as opposed to PCs, which can be upgraded piece-by-piece on a whim.
A similar CPU is found in both consoles. The PS4 wields a custom low-power x86-64 AMD Jaguar chip with eight physical processing cores, and the same is true of the Xbox One. In this category, it's essentially wash, though the PS4 leaps ahead when looking at the other specs.
Microsoft Xbox One
Of most interest are the GPU and RAM, as these are primarily gaming devices, after all. The Xbox One's GPU is similar to a Radeon HD 7790 (896 Stream Processors) with 102GB/s of bandwidth to a local 32MB SRAM memory cache, plus another 30GB/s of bandwidth to game controllers and peripherals like the Kinect. It also has 8GB of DDR3 system memory.
The GPU in the PS4 offers similar performance to a Radeon HD 7870 (1280 Stream Processors), which is quite a bit more powerful than the 7790 (896 SPs). It's also aided by 8GB of unified GDDR5 RAM and thus able to offer 176GB/s of bandwidth to the CPU and GPU. The advantage here clearly lies with Sony, though Microsoft is talking a big game about drawing power from the cloud, so we'll see.
Let's Talk Price and Used Games
Simply put, the PS4 is the more affordable console, at least at a glance. Microsoft announced that the Xbox One will sell for $499 this November, whereas the PS4 will go for $399 around the same time. Both will be available for the holiday shopping season, but unlike last round, Sony's hardware costs less. The caveat here is that the Xbox One comes with a Kinect motion controller. There's some value in that, though Microsoft is essentially forcing gamers to invest in that hardware, whereas Sony is not.
If you're keeping score, the PS4 is winning in hardware and price, but what about used games? While Microsoft is putting all the power into the hands of publishers and letting them decide whether or not you can trade games, and what fees it will charge outlets like GameStop, Sony is placing no such restrictions on gamers or resellers.
"When a gamer buys a PS4 disc, they have the rights to use that disc. They can sell it to another person, lend it to a friend, or keep it forever," Sony said.
Are you planning to purchase either console? Tell us why or why not in the comments section below!