After months of speculation, rumors, and some excellent reporting, Sony’s latest Playstations are finally here. Sony announced the new consoles at a press event in the Playstation Theater in New York City today. Hosting a major tech event the same day as Apple day seems like a risky move, but Sony’s event was packed with journalists eager for a break from the House of Cook and a visit to the House of Nathan Drake.
The Playstation Neo, aka Playstation 4.5, is officially on its way. Renamed the Playstation 4 Pro, this guy has a lot of PC-level guts in it. The hard drive is a whopping 1TB, and both the CPU and GPU have been upgraded. This souped up console is the first from Sony to allow you to play games in 4K. That’s a critical necessity as TVs with lower resolutions become increasingly scarce, and PCs capable of 4K gaming become cheaper and more common.
It also provides the games in HDR, which means significantly more detail in areas of extreme brightness and darkness. Things washed out by a pop of light or a deep shadow are not more visible. That said, Sony promises that original PS4 will also be HDR-capable via a patch by the end of the month.
Besides HDR capabilities, upscaling old games to 4K, and playing newer games natively at 4K, the PS4 Pro can also play all your other content in 4K and HDR, including Netflix and Youtube.
But the best part is that the PS4 Pro is the forward compatibility of current titles. The Xbox One S, Microsoft’s competing console, doesn’t yet have games that are compatible with its ability to display in 4K and HDR. But multiple PS4 games will be available at launch and take advantage of the PS4 Pro with a simple patch, and Sony promises that any developer can make their game work with the Pro with a minor tweak. Which means there should be no significant gap between titles available for both the Pro and original PS4.
It also provides better looking games on 1080p and lower resolution screens. In the sample Sony presented, there was clearly more detail on screen, with a character moving through weeds on the PS4 Pro that weren’t present on the original PS4.
The PS4 Pro will be available November 10 for $399.
If all the TVs in your house are only capable of 1080p and lower resolutions, you don’t necessarily need to worry about the PS4 Pro. It’s amazing, but maybe you’re on a budget. You can invest in the newly announced, slimmer Playstation 4, which begins shipping September 15. Inside, the console is virtually identical to the current PS4, with the same ports, capabilities, and 500GB hard drive. It’s just much much smaller than the PS4, which made all our eyes grow big as saucers when it lumbered onto the scene in 2013.
The Slim is smaller all around. It’s half an inch narrower, three-quarters of an inch shorter, and half an inch taller. Yet the biggest and best improvement has nothing to do with size. Sony’s also moved the power and eject buttons and made both actual buttons. The original PS4 had nearly invisible touch zones for powering it on and ejecting media, and those zones were right next to each other, which made for a lot of accidental ejects and power downs.
The PS4 Slim, officially just called the PS4, is available September 15 and will retail for $299. If you haven’t already purchased a Playstation and you don’t plan on upgrading your TV to 4K soon, then the Slim is a great (and svelte) deal.
And you’ll want either it or the PS4 Pro to use PS VR, which launches in October. Sony’s answer to the virtual reality systems from HTC and Oculus could easily be the best of the bunch. While some of the technology found in the Vive and Rift may be more astonishing, PS VR has a much better lineup of games ready at launch. Sony has learned a lot about launching video game consoles since the original Playstation 21 years ago. The most important thing at launch, after the cool tech, are the cool games.
Updated 4:47pm EST: Sony just made the specs available. Note how the GPU on the PS4 Pro is clocked to be more than two times faster than that of the PS4.