PlayStation 4: When great development leads to greater questions

PS outlook

February 20 2013 was a day like no other in the world of technology; and though its prime significance was centered around building the necessary expectations to usher in another great day in the world of technology, the day did spark off well… some other great things.

Video game consoles are nothing like they used to be. Gone are the days where you bought a console for the sake of gaming. “Buy the game, then the cartridge or CD, insert, power on and play” is old news. Video game consoles have taken on several tasks that give even the non-gamer good reasons to get one. With the fact that they also provide hours of great gaming entertainment for both the kids and the adult minded, owning a video game console has finally become a set standard for modern homes. On February 20 2013, the PlayStation 4 was officially announced with Sony, giving presentations of several good things to come concerning various breakthroughs in video entertainment technology.

The PlayStation 4 was billed to be released by late 2013 so, it would be quite a long wait for many. The wait might be worth it though; Sony’s fourth console entry to the PlayStation brand packs more than a punch in making sure “nothing is between you and the game.” It boasts of an 8 core Accelerated Processing Unit, 8GB GDDR5 RAM and 1.8 teraflops of processing prowess of which, even if you have no idea of what these mean, you just have a hunch that it must be powerful enough to deliver what you are expecting.

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Coming along is the PlayStation 4 eye which is a newly developed camera system that utilizes two high-sensitivity cameras equipped with wide-angle lenses and 85-degree diagonal angle views. There are also lots of comments about the new PlayStation 4 DualShock controller which comes with an “Option” button that replaces the traditional Start and Select buttons, a three axis gyroscope and touch panel. Will the DualShock 3 be compatible for the PlayStation 4? The answer is most likely a big no.

A number of issues come up whenever you give a closer thought on the anticipated Sony pacesetter. One of these would be backward compatibility. Some people would not find it very palatable spending money on great PlayStation 3 games just to spend even more for PlayStation 4 games which also come on blu-ray discs. A single console that could run pre-owned games would be extremely user cost effective. Having acquired Gaikai, a cloud based service, Sony plans to render older PlayStation games and stream them to the PS4. Cloud based services play a very integral part of the PlayStation 4 concerning games and this could mean that without a good internet connection, you may not even have access to the games you may have bought on the online store. Worse still, you may end up paying again for a game you already own since you can only play older games through the cloud service. Is that really okay?

Whether or not the PlayStation 4 would support blu-ray movies on 4K ultra high HD is still being rumored but having that would certainly do well to promote other offline functions of the console. The relationship between the still young-in-the-market PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 is unclear as well – if this remains, and no relationship is established, PS Vita owners might be headed for a level of heartbreak. The PlayStation 4 is estimated to cost about $400 – $600 which seems decent enough for its abilities.

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One other thought that comes to mind is what the future of console gaming would be. The PlayStation 4’s active social media integration involves a SHARE button on the DualShock 4 controller that allows the player to cycle through the last several minutes of gameplay to select a clip appropriate for online sharing. Videos can be uploaded directly from the console, either to websites or other PSN users. Players also have the chance to access their PlayStation online account using a PlayStation app available on the iOS AppStore and Google PlayStore. This App, is also mentioned to even support games as a second screen on compatible tablets and phones.

With all these features, it is sure that Sony has done a rather impressive job in presenting a working entry to this current technology demanding age. But whether it would be the next big thing in gaming compared to its rivals is another question for another post.

Buy the PS Vita? Maybe…

If you are yet to buy a Playstation Vita and you need to know the facts to consider, then this is for you.

When the Playstation Vita (popularly known as PS Vita) initially entered the Nigerian market in the second half of 2012, it did not have much of a warm welcome for many had already spent a lot on Sony’s four older editions of the PSP. As others had not even finished with their PSP devices, it would be only consequential that a majority saw it as a “wish list” device than a comfortable replacement for their existing handhelds. Of course, another issue was the pricing and availability of the device in the local market. It penetrated rather slowly and with the introduction of its new-found media and connectivity options, it looks like more money would be spent to ensure maximum use of the relatively powerful device.

The PS Vita comes with either just Wi-Fi or along with 3G for an extra cost. With two analog sticks (much better than the former and rather annoying PSP nub), two cameras, a front touch sensitive screen and rear touch pad, microphone, a “Six-axis” motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer), three-axis electronic compass, built-in GPS receiver (only for the 3G version) as well as Wi-Fi, 3G, and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR connectivity, it is clear that the PSP Vita does show off some very impressive abilities. The two cameras bring to life face and head detection and a very solid array of customization options. Internally, the device features a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 Mp-Core processor (3 of the 4 cores are usable for applications) and a quad-core GPU. The PlayStation Vita has 512 MB of system RAM and 128 MB of VRAM which can support cross game chats.

The 3G PSP Vita is carrier locked to very few networks across the world. Hence, the 3G option is not very relevant on Nigerian soil for the time being… well… until a hack or unlock or something of such sort is released or a contract has been signed. For those wondering if former PSP games would be playable on their PS Vita, the answer is yes. However, at the moment you would only be able to play games that are downloadable via the Playstation Store. PS One games compatibility is also enabled on the PS Vita; available on the Playstation Network. So i hope you have your wifi internet ready for some serious downloading. Reports surface that the PS Vita has been hacked by a reverse engineer named Yifan Liu to run source code and “homebrew”. This is usually the first step before everything else in that direction. Trust us to keep you posted on this development.

Good news would be that the PS Vita is equipped with a storage media slot in addition to the PS Vita card slot, so that users can choose their memory capacity based on their use. But the very bad news is that it is also not compatible with standard memory cards, such as SD cards, and instead stores data on more expensive proprietary PS Vita memory cards, which are available in sizes from 4 GB to 32 GB. Software for the PlayStation Vita is distributed on a proprietary flash memory card called “PlayStation Vita game card” rather than on Universal Media Discs (UMDs) as used by the PlayStation Portable. Some media applications and games require a proprietary PlayStation Vita memory card inserted to be used. 5–10% of the game card’s space is reserved for game save data and patches. You may also be interested to know that the PS Vita only supports mp4 based formats (precisely MPEG-4 Simple Profile (AAC) and H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High/Main/Baseline Profile (AAC)). Yes! No .avi and .mkv for those who understand what that means. A PS Vita is considerably large for a handheld and could be a bit heavy. We don’t recommend you to be very fond of dropping the device – get it? Of course you do!

The PlayStation Vita web browser does not support the proprietary Adobe Flash. However, HTML5, cookies, and Javascript are available. Sony also has put in the PlayStation Vita official Recovery Menu to solve common firmware based problems. As a new feature of PlayStation Vita’s Live area, latest game information such as downloadable contents are shown on the game LiveArea. In addition, by scrolling down the game LiveArea, the “Activity” of other users who are playing the same game can be checked instantly.

A truth is that there really isn’t any device that can give everything that everybody wants. But whether the PS Vita would be a device that is worth your saving money to buy immediately or not would be a choice that we hope this post would at least equip you to decide.