Sony’s annual PlayStation Meeting took place this month and it was there that Sony announced their next addition to the PlayStation family, the PlayStation 4 Pro. As it turns out, the secretive project named Neo is, in fact, the PS4 Pro. Much like Microsoft’s Scorpio project, the PS4 Pro offers gamers a mid-generation upgrade. Though whether this upgrade is warranted is yet to be seen.
The PS4 Pro is coming in at a respectable $399 USD and while it won’t replace the older PS4 system it does include new features. The PS4 Pro will be able to output 4K and HDR (Hyper-Dynamic Range), will come with a 1TB hard drive as standard, Wifi improvements, along with upgraded internal parts.
Let’s break this down into manageable bites. The benefit of 4K resolution is a popular topic in recent years with more television manufacturers pushing their 4K equipment. For the layman, 4K resolution is four times the fidelity of 1080p, so the number of pixels you’re seeing is 4 times that of standard full-HD. The PS4 Pro is able to output 4K, meaning your games are going to provide a more detailed experience. The only caveat being you must own a 4K TV in order to take advantage of this new feature. To put it simply, if you don’t have a 4K TV there’s little reason for you to pick up the new PS4 Pro.
Despite this obvious drawback, Sony has stated that the PS4 Pro, running on a standard 1080p TV, will be able to run your games in “a higher or more stable framerate,” though there is no word on exactly how much higher the framerate is able to go nor any mention of the stability. For the average console gamer, increasing your framerate or stability by an untold amount is unlikely going to be worth shelling out $399 USD for a console with mysterious benefits. Though, if you are planning on picking up or if you already own a 4K TV, the PS4 Pro’s 4K output is likely a strong selling point. It will now be up to the developers to choose just how much energy is placed into achieving the 4K experience, whether it will be achieved nativity or whether the game will be upscaled.
For the most part, 4K gaming isn’t something you can truly comprehend through a stream or images; it’s a feature that requires an in-person experience. Looking at a 4K image on a 1080p screen isn’t going to have the same effect as standing in front of a 4K screen and admiring the crispness. While it’s a novelty at the moment, given enough years 4K will likely become the norm.
Part of the appeal of a 4K system is experiencing all content in 4K, however, for one reason or another, the PS4 Pro will not include a built-in Ultra-HD Blu-Ray player. This means that the PS4 Pro, a 4K system, will not be able to play physical 4K Blu-Rays. While the PS4 Pro will be able to stream in 4K it won’t be able to do so physically (aside from games) which is likely a deal breaker for those living in countries where streaming in 4K isn’t yet a reality.
There is some reassuring news amidst the announcement: Sony stated that the PS4 Pro will not have any exclusive game releases, meaning all PS4 games will still be able to function on the older PS4 model. This will come as a relief for gamers who don’t have the disposable income required to purchase a 4K television and PS4 Pro.
The reasons to buy a PS4 Pro right out of the gate just aren’t there at the moment, unless of course, you’re someone who already owns a 4K TV and wants to get the most bang for your buck. But everyday gamers like myself are unlikely to be early adopters of the new PS4 Pro. Having your games run at a more stable or higher framerate is probably the only benefit anyone with a 1080p TV would likely get out of purchasing the new PS4 Pro. But even Sony isn't able to definitively answer just how much of a benefit this will offer.
With the PS4, PS4 Slim, and now the PS4 Pro, the market is becoming even more complicated and that’s before you take into consideration whether your 4K TV has the required HDR10 format needed to take advantage of HDR. Only time will tell as to whether Sony has made a wise move in releasing the PS4 Pro at this time or whether they should have waited to see what Microsift has planned with the Scorpio. Do people still care about Microsoft versus Sony or are we beyond that feud?
Read more about the PS4 Pro in Sony’s blog post here.