Should you ditch your PS4 for the newer PS4 Pro for sparkling 4K visuals? We investigate.
Yesterday Sony unveiled a mid-generation upgrade to the current PS4 – the PS4 Pro (codenamed Neo initially).
The PS4 Pro upgrades the three-year-old PS4 hardware with a faster processor, better graphics, and support for 4K resolution. Launching on November 10th, it’ll cost £349.99.
While this all sounds very exciting, the ‘PlayStation Meeting’ held in New York last night was met with indifference online rather than the enthusiasm that Sony had hoped for.
While it’s nice to have extra power to play nicer looking games at higher frame rates, we’re not sure it warrants the need to upgrade immediately (especially if you don’t own a 4K TV set).
So is it time to upgrade to Sony’s latest iteration of its hugely successful PlayStation 4? Read on to find out more:
1. 4K and HDR
The PS4 Pro is Sony’s first 4K console, so unsurprisingly Sony spent a great deal of the PlayStation Meeting extolling the benefits of playing games in 4K along with High Dynamic Range (HDR) colour capabilities.
According to Tech Radar, the difference between native 4K and 1080p visuals upscaled to 4K, was ‘night and day’. During the demo of the upcoming game ‘Horizon: Zero Dawn’, the pockmarks in a nearby cliff face in the background were immediately noticeable, only to return to muddy texture maps when swapped to 1080p.
HDR support will allow the PS4 Pro to highlight far more details in a scene in the distant background than ever before. The pre-alpha gameplay of Mass Effect Andromeda (which you can see above) showed that even distant ambient lights were visible and vibrant.
However, anyone considering parting with £349.99 for the new PS4 Pro will need a 4K TV that supports HDR visuals in order to see games display at 4K resolution and sport a wider range of colours that allows extremes of light and dark to be better displayed.
A Pro owner who only has a current-standard 1080p TV will only see marginal improvements to games that are programmed to use the Pro’s power for non-4K/HDR effects. Gamers may experience a more stable framerate or with some improved graphical details.
Getting the most out of a PS4 Pro would require you to fork out around an additional £500-£1000 for a good 4K TV set. Do you have pockets that deep?
2. No UHD Blu-ray support
This is a strange one. It was confirmed that the PS4 Pro would not support UHD Blu-rays. Instead, Sony will support 4K playback from streaming services and will have new Netflix and Youtube apps optimised for the new console.
It’s a baffling decision as Blu-ray is Sony’s technology and brought it into the mainstream when launching the PS3. According to Sony, consumers won’t mind because the PS4 Pro is ‘primarily for gaming’. However, that doesn’t make any sense as Microsoft released the new Xbox One S which has also been marketed as primarily for gaming but it plays Ultra HD Blu-rays. Sony could be keeping costs down with the PS4 Pro, but why then does the Xbox One S have UHD Blu-ray support but is also around £100 cheaper?
The Xbox Twitter account had a pretty strong response to this bizarre lack of support for UHD Blu-rays:
— Xbox (@Xbox) September 7, 2016
Also if you’re going to stream Netflix or Youtube in 4K you’re going to need at least 20Mbps of bandwidth according to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. If not, then that’s more money you need to spend to upgrade to a higher broadband speed.
3. It’s not the most visually appealing console
I mean, look at it!
4. The PS4 Pro still doesn’t solve the console’s biggest problem…
Despite the hardware improvements, it doesn’t make any difference to what is Sony’s major problem right now: a distinct lack of exclusives. Fair enough we have Uncharted 4, Bloodborne, Ratchet and Clank, plus a new Gran Turismo, God of War and Days Gone in the pipeline. However, apart from that there’s very little else. It’s games that make a console, not the spec sheet.
Our thoughts in a nutshell
Upgrading to the PS4 Pro isn’t a great deal right now given how much it would cost to get any use out of it. You’d probably need to work two jobs to be able to afford not just the console, but also a new 4K TV to enjoy the souped up graphics and upgraded broadband package to be able to stream 4K content.
With the PSVR headset out in October, most gamers will likely be prioritising that as the PS4 Pro is a totally unnecessary upgrade that honestly, no-one asked for.