A Look at the PlayStation 4 Pro

A Look at the PlayStation 4 Pro

Although Sony was not the first company ever to reinvigorate their home console market with a hardware refresh, the introduction and massive success of the PlayStation 2 Slim made revisions all but mandatory for home consoles going forward. Now, hardware refreshes have become hotly anticipated events, generating massive amounts of hype and driving gamers everywhere to trade in their perfectly working but (now) outdated consoles for the latest and greatest home console offering.

This November, Sony will release their latest revision to the PlayStation 4, aptly named the PlayStation 4 Pro. With more than just cosmetic changes, today's home console revisions are expected to also include new features and hardware upgrades. Does the PlayStation 4 Pro live up to the ever higher-reaching expectations of gamers? BFAds tackles that question and more in our look at the PlayStation 4 Pro.


What about the PlayStation 4 Slim?

What about the PlayStation 4 Slim?

One of the first questions you might ask is, "Wait a minute, what about the PlayStation 4 Slim that only released a few weeks ago?"

Yes, there are two Sony PlayStation 4 revisions for release in 2016, one of which is the 500GB PlayStation 4 Slim that hit store shelves in September. There isn't a whole lot more to say about the PS4 Slim except that, well, it's a slimmer PlayStation 4. It's smaller, quieter, uses less power, and weighs two pounds less than its portly older sibling.

The PS4 Slim includes a few minor hardware upgrades including faster (AC) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. Aside from that, the PS4 Slim simply delivers everything the PlayStation 4 has along with some modest changes such as repositioned USB ports and a light bar on the face of the console. Shoppers should note that this does not include S/PDIF audio out, so those that rely on an optical port for audio or higher-end gaming headsets should look elsewhere.


PlayStation 4 Pro Form Factor

PlayStation 4 Pro Form Factor

Interestingly enough, the PlayStation 4 Pro is actually bit larger than its PlayStation 4 counterpart. It's one pound heavier (three pounds heavier than the Slim), with a bit more depth, and now has 3 "tiers" or "layers" to its design instead of 2 tiers separated by a slot which is used to house a slot loading Blu-ray drive. The extra level in the design is interesting, and somewhat striking, but the design comes at a cost of a bit more real estate in your home theater cabinet.

Along the back there is an added USB 3.0 port, along with an HDMI 2.0 port, optical out, and the aux ports for use with the PlayStation 4 camera.


Under the Hood – Performance Upgrades

Under the Hood – Performance Upgrades

When the PlayStation 4 Pro was officially unveiled, the immediate reaction was disappointment when it was revealed that it would not come equipped with a 4K Blu-ray player, unlike the Xbox One S. This is a fairly surprising move by Sony, given Sony's propensity to use PlayStation consoles to push new media formats. Unfortunately, this means that those wishing to have their PlayStation 4 act as their primary 4K Blu-ray player will instead have to seek out a dedicated player.

The largest upgrade that the PlayStation 4 Pro delivers is the GPU, which has a significant bump in power giving Pro owners the ability stream 4K HDR content from providers such as Netflix and of course, Sony themselves via PlayStation Network.

For gaming, it's a bit more complicated. While the PlayStation 4 Plus can handle upscaling just fine, only a small handful of existing games will receive performance enhancements from this upgrade, and whether or not these upgrades exist is left completely up to the game developers. That makes this upgrade a bit of a mixed bag.

The best example is this uncertainly comes in the planned upgrade for Naughty Dog's critically acclaimed title The Last of Us Remastered. There will be a 4K upgrade available for PlayStation 4 Pro owners, but this upgrade runs at only half the framerate. Gamers will have to choose between running The Last of Us Remastered 1080p @ 60fps or 4K @ 30fps. The Last of Us is a AAA title, which may lead some to conclude that 4K home console gaming is officially here on the PS4 Pro, but keep in mind that The Last of Us on PS4 is a remastered version of a PlayStation 3 game. Gamespot has a running list of PlayStation 4 titles that may or may not be getting upgrades, and it's spotty to say the least.

So what does this all mean? The realistic if not conservative way to view the PlayStation 4 Pro is that it will finally make 1080p gaming on a home console a reality, which is something that has never truly been accomplished. 4K gaming can and will likely happen for PSN games and a few titles here and there but it's not likely to be the norm and definitely will not be a standard.

To further muddy the waters, another thing to take into consideration is the inclusion of high dynamic range, or HDR, which will provide a noticeable and impressive enhancement to games that take advantage of this feature. Again, this is entirely up to the developer, so nothing is guaranteed. Also, yes, as you may have heard, HDR is available on the Slim and Fat PS4 models, but when not running at 4K, most games and media applications will not separate HDR to run in 1080 mode, meaning an upgrade to a 4K console all but necessary to enjoy the benefits of HDR.


Controller

Controller

The Dualshock 4 is enjoying a few small but significant upgrades, the first of which being a simple but welcome change to the touch pad. The Dualshock 4 features a snazzy color-shifting light on the front of the controller that is used by games in a variety of ways such as flashing when your character was about to die, or changing colors to indicate a change in the game. The problem here was that the light was positioned on the area of the controller that faces the television when held, meaning the player would have to stop and hold the controller up to see the light indicators. The new Dualshock 4 now features a small but welcome light bar across the top of the touchpad.

The second change comes internally, as the Dualshock 4 will now transmit data over the USB cable when plugged into the PlayStation 4 console. The benefit of this is the elimination of the slight latency that comes from the use of wireless communication for the controller. Definitely a niche feature, but something that fans of twitch shooters and fighting games will appreciate.


Which PlayStation 4 is Right for You?

With plenty of the original PlayStation 4 sitting on store shelves, mixed in with the PlayStation 4 Slim, soon to be accompanied by the PlayStation 4 Pro, the last and most important question you may have is, which PlayStation 4 is right for me? If you're reading this article, you likely fall into one of these categories:

• I want a PlayStation 4 for as little money as possible. – The answer here isn't quite as easy as going out and buying the cheapest console you can find. If the PlayStation 4 Pro's features don't interest you, there is no reason you shouldn't take advantage of the lower priced PlayStation 4 Slim. However, many bundle deals for the original PS4 have been popping up since the Slim's launch, most of which are retailers cleaning out old stock to make way for new packages in time for the holidays. While the dollar for dollar price may be the same or even a little higher than that of the Slim, included games or accessories may bring the net cost down considerably when picking up an original PS4 bundle. It's best to shop around and find the best bundle package, since the console features are nearly the same between the PS4 and the Slim.

• I don't have a PlayStation 4, but I have a 4K UDHTV (or plan to get one soon). – There is no question that you should have the PlayStation 4 Pro in your sights when it drops this November. If you've got a 4K UHDTV, visual fidelity is obviously important to you, and the best looking graphics available are on the PlayStation 4 Pro.

• I have a PlayStation 4 already, should I upgrade to the Slim? – If you have a PS4 already then it's not worth it to upgrade to the PlayStation 4 Slim. Unless faster Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are extremely important to you, there is no real benefit. You also stand to lose out on a S/PDIF optical audio out, should you ever need it, and potentially a good chunk of hard drive space since the PS4 Slim only has a 500GB option.

• I have a PlayStation 4 already, should I upgrade to the PlayStation 4 Pro? - If you don't have a 4K UHDTV, then it probably is not worth shelling out $400 for a console you already own in anticipation of framerate improvements for 1080p games. If you do have a 4K UHDTV, your choice is a little more complicated, thanks in no small part to the lack of a 4k Blu-ray drive in the Pro. What it really comes down to is whether or not frame rate improvement in the games, along with 4K streaming and HDR, are worth the cost of the upgrade to you, since those are the only benefits you'll get by upgrading.

Choosing a new PlayStation 4 console isn't the only important choice you'll have this Black Friday. Do you have questions about store opening times or doorbusters? Do you want all of the Black Friday deals broken down for you, along with simple and informative buying guides? Look no further than BFAds.net! Check back early and often, as we'll be breaking the latest Black Friday deals and ad leaks as they happen.

October 7, 2016
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