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  • Featured ImageThe g33z3r_hd Playstation 4 Review

    As you know, I wrote a post last week documenting the reasons I wasn’t going to go and pick up the Playstation 4 right away.  I also posted a blog letting everyone know that I am weak and broke down and bought one on release day.  Now that I have had some time to play with it, I have to say that I am quite impressed.  Although there are some things that I would change, the Playstation 4 definitely performs quite well with its primary purpose; playing games.

    What do I like about the new Playstation 4?  One word; performance.  Compared to the Playstation 3, the Playstation 4 is just amazing.  That shouldn’t be a revelation however seeing that it has been over 7 years since the Playstation 3 was released.  As an example, playing Call of Duty: Ghosts on both platforms, the Playstation 4 was faster loading and, or course, much better graphics.  Where the Playstation 3 would take up to 30 seconds to load a match, the Playstation 4 takes less than 15 seconds…it is great!  Thinking about it, when playing multiplayer, you can’t really go much faster than that so that players have the time to actually load, and enter, the match.

    The controller feels like it was completely meant to be in MY hand.  I am still getting used to the placement of the share and options buttons, and would like to see them a little more accessible, but when you are used to the select and play buttons, this is expected.  The touch pad is pretty neat although I tend to accidently press it from time to time when I am trying to press either share or options.  Something that, again, I will have to get used to.

    Yes, there are a lot of differences between the PS3 and the PS4 that you “just have to get used to.”  This isn’t a problem for someone that is doing a complete upgrade to the PS4 from the PS3 but I am sure that there are many people out there just like me that are not doing a complete upgrade.  There are a lot of people that are going to keep on playing their PS3 systems simply because we can’t play some of our games on the PS4…not to mention, the features that the PS3 possesses that the PS4 does not (the ability to play MP3s or, for now, the ability to record and upload game play videos to YouTube).  Simply “getting used” to the PS4 is a much more difficult proposition to me.

    One of the biggest things that I was upset about when it came to the PS4 was the HDCP protected HDMI output.  To most people, this doesn’t really matter much.  To me, it is huge.  What does this mean?  Well, when HDCP is used, this means that you cannot use a traditional game capture card (such as the Elgato Game Capture HD, or the Hauppauge PVR HD) to record your game play.  Now, there are ways around this but, technically speaking, they aren’t legal.  Sony has addressed this issue saying that, in early 2014, they will be releasing a PS4 patch that will allow HDMI recording of game play using game capture cards.  I wonder, exactly, how they are going to work this patch to only provide capture of games and not movies.  With the PS3, we could simply skip the entire HDMI route and use the video composite cables (the red, green, and blue RCA style cables).  This allowed the recording of ALL output from the PS3 as if the game capture card was actually your television or monitor.  This meant that you could not only record your game play but that you could also record movies or TV shows from sources like Netflix.  I am sure the entertainment industry is just thrilled with that…

    The menu on the Playstation 4 is a little something that I am going to, again, get used to.  I am still having quite a time getting around and finding the exact things I am looking for.  Eventually, however, I do manage to find it.  I would like to be able to customize exactly what I do, and don’t see on the menu.  To be honest, I don’t really care about Music Unlimited or Video Unlimited.  I have never really watched movies or listened to music on my Playstation, and I am not really going to start now (although I am watching Netflix on my PS4 right now just to see the quality and performance LOL).  Typically, I only want to see the things that I use…games, settings, and other such features showing on the menus.

    PS4 ScreenshotFinally, although I already briefly touched upon sharing, I want to spend a considerable amount of time on this subject as it is what I do.  Everyone knows that I absolutely LOVE sharing what I do when it comes to gaming.  Whether it be live streaming Minecraft or posting game play from Call of Duty, I absolutely adore sharing.  Sony realized that this was the direction of gaming in general.  So, in their attempts to be forward thinking, they included the new share button on the controller.  This share button would allow you to, with ease, share screenshots and even game play video with the world.  The problem is they severely limited it.  As of now, it is only possible to upload videos to Facebook and post screenshots to Facebook or Twitter.  There is no option, that I can find, to directly download the images or videos from the Playstation 4 to your computer or upload them to another location.  Barring this option, in my view, the share button is about as useful as a glass of water to a drowning man.  I do however like the concept.

    What would make the share button better?  First, let us have have control over the media.  Let us move the content off of the console, let us post the content where ever we choose.  Don’t Google+ us into using what you want us to use.  Mostly, I am waiting for the patch to allow HDMI recording…you know, that option that people who use the Xbox One will be able to use on day 1…

    Long story short…well, not really, I really like the Playstation 4.  Sony has done a great job of creating a platform that performs very well when playing games.  All of the extra stuff, like playing movies and music, really doesn’t entertain me.  I have a smart TV and and an AppleTV to watch movies and I have a stereo system to play music.  For you, these things may, or may not, matter.

    If your console goals only include playing games, and do not include sharing content, I would suggest picking up a Playstation 4 post haste.  If you do wish to share your content, I would wait until Sony releases the patch that allows HDMI recording…if they ever really do.

    Cheers for now

    g33z3r_hd


  • Featured ImagePlaystation 4: Why I won’t be buying one right away

    I was super excited last week at work when I logged onto my corporate credit card account and found that I could get 7 $100 Best Buy gift cards because of the points I had earned.  See, where I work, we get to keep the points we earn and use them for whatever we like.  Yup, you guessed it, the PS4 immediately popped into my head (along with a couple of other things from Best Buy).  My gift cards showed up yesterday!

    I stopped at Best Buy yesterday to pick up a couple of things.  First, I got a Call of Duty: Ghosts season pass.  Bought through the Playstation Store, this would have been $60 but, buying it at Best Buy, it was $50.  So there was that.  Second, I picked up the Call of Duty: Ghosts game guide.  This book has some awesome information in it but mostly…the maps rock!  Finally, I was able to score a sweet Call of Duty: Ghosts poster from the cashier!  It is proudly displayed on my bathroom door as we speak!  Thanks for that Best Buy guy!

    While I was there, I was also able to test drive the Playstation 4.  This was the first time that I had seen one out on demo and I jumped at the opportunity to play around.  The first thing that I noticed was that the controller wasn’t bad like I thought it was going to be.  Even through it was tethered to the display, it was relatively comfortable in my hands.  From the photos that I have seen, I was really concerned that it would feel way different than the PS3 controller and, as such, I either wouldn’t like it or would have to get used to it.  Honestly, it fit into my hands like it was supposed to be there.

    The demo game selection that they had was horrible.  Seeing that I like playing first person shooters, and so many other people do as well, I would have expected some version of an fps to be on demo.  Maybe not Ghosts or BO2, but something that would show the game play.  Nope.  There was some silly mining game and a couple of kids games.  Nothing really excited me so I just played the mining game…for about 30 seconds.  It was the epitome of stupid.

    So, I left the store convinced that I would be returning later next week to buy one of the new PS4 systems.  But this is where the story turns.

    When I was at the store, I was looking at games and game cards.  I looked at the Playstation Plus card and almost bought it but then realized that I really don’t care about the features that it would offer at the price I would have to pay.  I thought I had seen something about the PS4 requiring Playstaion Plus to play online but I thought, oh Sony wouldn’t do that to us.  After some research, sure as heck, they did that to us.  This is when I started looking closer at the PS4 out of horror.

    I headed over to the Playstation 4 website to research a bit more.  I am uber disappointed in Sony.  Just looking at the specs alone, I would call the PS4 a failure.

    ps4 specs
    Screen shot from Sony’s Playstation 4 web site for consumer educational use

     

    Above, we find the specs of the new Playstation 4.  Normally, I would expect to see a much longer list, one that I can’t screen capture in one image.  This is vague to say the least.  However, it does give me enough information so I have decided to wait to pick up the PS4.

    Let us start at the top and go from there…

    Main Processor

    This section doesn’t tell us crud.  It basically tells us, “yes, it has a processor” but doesn’t give us any specs.  I would really like to know how fast it is, how much cache it has.  Just telling me that you used an 64 bit AMD processor with 8 cores tells me that you have used a “current world” processor.

    After some digging, I was able to find that IGN had more complete information and specifications for the PS4 here.  This shows they they believe the processor to run at 1.6Ghz on a processor capable of 2.75 Ghz.  Why did they do that I wonder?  To save power?  I know they are focusing more on the GPU than the CPU (GPUs are often faster and more powerful than CPUs for those that are less geeky).  Curious.

    Memory

    With 8 GB of RAM, I am not really impressed although I am not completely disappointed.  I would have expected to see a bit more crammed in there since they are going to be expected to run some killer games with killer graphics.  A lot of the responsibility for making these games run smoothly falls onto the GPU but there is quite a bit of requirement for the RAM to put things on the plate for the GPU to process.  I would have like to seen at least 16 GB.  My laptop has 32 for Pete’s sake.

    Hard Disk Drive

    LOL.  That is all I have to say.  Really Sony?  The hard disk is built in?  Is that new technology?  How innovative of you!  I understand there might be several different storage space options but, for crying out loud, tell us what they are, or at least what you expect them to be.  Built-in.  Really?  IGN’s article also specified that the PS4 will have a 500 GB hard drive.  With the price of storage space being as low as it is, I am super surprised that Sony elected to use such a small drive.  I would have expected at least 1 TB of storage, especially seeing the size of games has been increasing.  The Call of Duty: Ghosts download ended up using 12 GB of storage on my, already full, PS3 hard drive.

    Optical Drive

    Yup, it plays BluRay and DVDs.  Next…

    I/O

    Yup, it has USB 3.0.  Next…

    Communication

    Right.  Fail.  Big time!  I wonder if Sony has heard about this new thing called wireless?  I wonder if they have heard that it has just exploded and demand continues to grow every single day.  It baffles me why manufacturers continue to do exactly this.  They put a 2.4GHz only wireless card in the PS4.  No, seriously…that happened!  Ok, so I accept that most people don’t understand what I am talking about, so I will explain.

    Currently, there are two frequency bands that are available in the US for wireless networks, the 2.4GHz band and th 5GHz band.  What you are used to hearing is the letter so I will associated them for you.  The standards of 802.11b and 802.11g operate on the 2.4GHz band while 802.11a and 802.11ac operate on the 5GHz band.  The 802.11n standard operates on both bands.

    Why is this an issue, you ask?  Well, first and foremost, the 2.4GHz band is overloaded.  There are so many devices out there that operate within this band, both Wi-Fi and non-Wi-Fi, that the spectrum is packed.  On top of that, we have a very limited amount of space for wireless networks on the 2.4GHz band.  There are only 3 non-overlapping channels within this frequency space and, as such, there is a ton of interference.  This is why more and more devices are moving to the 5GHz band.  Just look at the 802.11ac standard.  It is a 5GHz only standard but that is a whole separate topic and subject of rant for me.

    In addition to the limited amount of space that we have on the 2.4GHz band, we are also going to have slower over all speeds.  Not good when you are trying to play a first person shooter with friends online.  Yuck.

    I know that isn’t a complete explaination but this is a gaming blog, not a wireless blog.  If you want more information about that, please let me know and I can give you the full run down.  Oh, in case you didn’t know, I am a wireless networking engineer IRL.

    Long story, well, not much shorter, they should have busted out the extra nickle that it cost to put a dual band wireless NIC into the system so that we could take advantage of the 5GHz spectrum.

    Good thing I don’t use wireless for my PS3.  I am happy they put a gig Ethernet card in however.

    AV Output

    Alright, this is the section that really grinds my gears!  On the PS3, the HDMI output is protected.  This means that you can plug your PS3 into your TV using the HDMI cable but, if you like to record your game play as I do, it won’t worked plugged into a capture card like the Elgato Game Capture HD (this is what I use and highly recommend).  In order to record or stream from my console, I have to use the composite cables.  Most people would recognize these as the red, green, and blue cables that look just like the ones that you would plug into the back of your stereo years ago…as a matter of fact, they are the same connectors…RCA.  This does not appear to be an option with the PS4.

    If the HDMI output from the PS4 is still protected, and there is no reason that I can imagine that Sony would have changed that, then game capture is dead on the PS4 unless someone comes up with a work around solution.  This is the number one reason that I will NOT purchase the Playstation 4.  If I cannot capture my game play, then I have no desire to play games on this console.  I share what I play…plain and simple.

    So, the combination of having to pay $60 a year to play online with others and the inability to capture my game play have completely killed any thoughts I once had about picking up a Playstation 4 for the time being.  If new information comes to light, or they change things, that could change my mind…but not for now.

    Cheers for now

    g33z3r_hd