Is the PS4 the best gaming console? We review, you choose

If Sony was trying to make a statement with the release of the PlayStation 4 console – they’ve done a good job. Unlike most pre-game inflated rhetoric and chatter, the PS4 seems to have lived up to its claims and is the most powerful console on the market. It has seen another facelift and some major design tweaks to the Dual Shock controller. In addition, it expanded memory and significantly increased the performance of its processors. These upgrades are clearly visible and the PS4 delivers stunning HD graphics that run smoothly and at lightning speed.

With some well-stocked exclusive game titles, access to live streaming, and multiplayer capabilities, PlayStation fans will likely welcome the latest entrant with open arms. Not to mention that the price of this console is about 100 dollars less than its enthusiast competitor – Xbox One. As it stands today, the PS4 has made a grand entrance.

Performance: 5.0 / 5.0

The PS4 has a single-chip processor that combines an eight-core x86-64 AMD “Jaguar” processor with a 1.84 teraflops GPU. It is backed by 8GB of GDDR5 RAM and has a 500GB mechanical hard drive. Sony boasts that its new hardware allows it to perform 10 times better than the last PS3. This is an impressive feat.

Another nice touch is the fact that the PS4 comes with a 500GB drive. This extra space helps when downloading movies and games from the PlayStation Market. If you feel pressured for space, don’t worry, because your hard drive can also be upgraded by doing it yourself without voiding the warranty.

The PS4’s HD graphics are stunning and the responsiveness of the consoles is unparalleled today. Even more impressive is the fact that this machine can perform at a high level without looking like a jet plane on a runway or overheating. Not to mention that the entire power supply is encased inside the unit; Unlike the Xbox One which remains attached to the external power cord in an effort to save space inside the console.

Features: 5.0 / 5.0

The PS4 comes in the same matte black and semi-gloss exterior as the Xbox One. Even then, it has a completely different look. That’s because the PS4 has a slim, sleek design and doesn’t look like a bulky VCR from the mid-1980s. I’m not saying the Xbox one is the ugly sister out of the pack, but it probably wouldn’t have been asked to prom if the PS3 had been available and willing. Now then, for all of you who were offended by such a superficial statement, I’m well aware that Mother always said, “What’s inside matters.” And in this regard, I assure you, the PS4 will still be the first to ask for a dance.

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The PS4 has seen some modifications to its components, and because of this, none of the older PlayStation peripherals will work – imagine that.

Although PS4 does not have reverse capabilities to play your PS3 games, many pre-owned games can be purchased for a great discount from its online store. The only catch – you’ll have to insert your older PS3 disc into the console while playing the online version.

Games purchased from the PlayStation Store are downloaded directly to the hard drive and you don’t have to worry about losing or scratching the disc. The only drawback, however, is the fact that downloaded titles cannot be borrowed for the weekend or redeemed for credit at the local game store. As this type of game buying becomes more popular, stores like GameStop and other game retailers may have a hit – that or a seat next to Blockbuster in “Reminiscence Park.”

The new PS4 Dual Shock 4 has seen some physical changes that make it stand out quite a bit from its predecessor. Some of the most notable changes concern the analog sticks; which are spaced slightly apart to avoid thumb collision. It is also designed with recessed surfaces and is covered with a rubber coating for enhanced grip. The Dual Shock 4 also comes with an external amplifier and a headphone jack for your headset, just be aware, it can only output stereo audio from the controllers connection – however, a nice touch. I’d say one of the Dual Shock 4’s nicest design features is the metal touchpad on the face of the controller. It works like a laptop touchpad and is very smooth and responsive.

Although the Dual Shock 4 can be purchased and used on the PS3, older Dual Shock 3 controllers are not compatible with the PS4.

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For those who already own a PS Vita, you can stream games from your PS4 via Wi-Fi to the handheld unit. This creates a second display, much like the Wii U, and allows games to be played while someone else is using the TV. While this is a nice feature, it may not justify the purchase of a PS Vita by itself.

The PlayStation Camera is a nice touch, but it takes a bit of interactivity to realize that it’s not as powerful as the Xbox Kinect and doesn’t seem to have enough game interaction to make it worth it. It also has a voice command feature, though it’s pretty limited, and you might want to consider spending your money on another console instead.

Multimedia: 4.4 / 5.0

The PS4 seems to have taken a back seat to its previous plans to be your all-in-one media center. While it can still boast of having one of the best performing Blu-Ray and DVD players on the market, unlike the PS3, it can no longer easily play music files, CDs, or stream content from your computer. Instead, it seems to work like a Roku. However, if you just want to use the console to play games or occasionally access Netflix and other movie apps, you’re all set. Not to mention the movies are easy to access and can be downloaded at lightning speed. You can even use your PS4 to connect to social networks and share some gaming features – nothing like showing off.

As far as music goes, the Xbox and PS4 each have their own channels. PlayStation offers “Music Unlimited” for a small fee, of course. It works like Pandora and allows users to listen to entire albums. The only weakness is that it’s a bit slower and less accurate at recognizing the real genre of music or artist you want. Along with this feature comes “Unlimited Videos”. Another movie-based channel that is surprisingly deep in title selections and allows for streaming to other devices as well.

The online PlayStation gaming community has seen some great improvements to the interface and gameplay features. The only downside, much like the Xbox, PS4 users will now have to pay for access to the multiplayer area. While this is a change from the PS3, where it was free, the experience has been greatly improved and is likely to be worth the cost.

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One useful feature of the PS4 is the iOS and Android app that allows users to connect to the PlayStation Store and purchase and download games while away from home. With this app, games can be automatically downloaded to the console, when you’re away from home, and then ready to play as soon as you arrive. Overall, the PS4 still has nice interactivity and a wide variety of features in the multimedia department, but it lacks the depth of the PS3. Given some of these complaints, Sony has taken note and I imagine they will make some tweaks in their updates.

Conclusion: 4.9 / 5.0

The PS4 weighs in at $100 cheaper than the Xbox One, but even if you remove the Kinect component to bring down the Xbox’s price, the PS4 is a much better value for the dollar. Its performance is undeniable, and while the Xbox One is a well-built unit with Microsoft addressing some performance issues, you won’t be rubbing elbows with Sony.

As far as the downside is concerned, the PS4 only comes with two front USB ports. We felt this design flaw also existed with the PS3 that could have been addressed, but apparently not. It also lacks some of the depth of gaming titles like the Xbox One, and it always had that. However, it is within the scope and has a lot of heavy exclusive titles and a promising future.

PS4 is a powerful gaming console that provides gamers with exactly what they are looking for; Smooth HD gaming experience with full functionality and control. Based on its undeniable performance, improved design, and price point, high-review consumer finds making a first-round draft a no-brainer.

For more helpful gaming and tech reviews and articles, visit Consumer High Five. We review, you choose. You may also see our list of the five best gaming consoles of 2014.

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