The complete PS4 guide – the specs, controller camera, game streaming & more explained

Andy House PS4

After the longest console cycle ever, next-gen finally arrived this February and – here’s the important bit – everything has changed. This isn’t simply about more of the same with better hair (although, seriously, PS4 hair is to die for) this is about Sony fundamentally remoulding the very future of gaming.

Now, be patient: the games, the tech, the numbers and so on are all things we’ll get to. But a far more important detail to grasp first is just how much of a paradigm shift PS4 is. It’s not just about playing games any more, it’s about how you interact with them and share your experiences. It’s about how you connect to the world and the people around you.

It’s not just about playing games any more,
it’s about how you interact with them and
share your experiences. It’s about how you connect to the world and the people around you

This is a future where content can be streamed to a variety of devices and platforms. This is a social machine hardwired into the connected, always-on world we live in. The games might load on the machine, but their presence will be felt anywhere you log in, and on anything that picks up Wi-Fi.

PS4 interface menu streaming socialAt a basic level that could mean letting you manage inventories and loadouts on your smartphone or tablet, right up to Remote Play streaming all PS4 games to your PS Vita. The new social focus of the console interface means you can watch what your friends are playing live, talk to them – even take over their controller if they get stuck. Your sofa is now as big as your internet connection.

This Gaikai-based streaming tech will also let you try demos instantly, or play games while they’re still downloading from PSN. There’s a whole other set of chips inside the machine whose only job is to take care of updates, patches, downloads and more. It’s always on, always ready to play.

Another encouraging sign of just how forward-thinking Sony has been is how developer-friendly PS4 is. Sony’s key message with PlayStation 4 is that to win over gamers you need the best content. And to get that you need to ensure it’s as easy as possible to create it. So Sony spent five secret years in talks with devs to create their dream machine. Happy developers make amazing things.

Then there are the new ways to play. Most obviously, the redesigned DualShock 4 has motion sensing, touch controls, a built-in speaker and more, but there are also subtle changes: trigger shapes, stick deadzones and button sensitivity tweaks. There’s less latency, meaning faster reactions in-game and a new, twin-lens HD camera called the PlayStation 4 Eye.

If you want to know what’s inside (full stats below) Sony is calling this “a supercharged PC” with an x86-64 AMD Jaguar CPU and an AMD GPU running at 1.84 teraflops (a measure of number-crunching performance, with that ‘tera’ meaning ‘add 12 zeroes’). If a big number means nothing on its own then this should put it into perspective: the machine has

8GB of GDDR5 RAM, 16 times that of the PS3’s equivalent, and on a par with £1,000+ PC graphics cards. It’s a payload that doesn’t just rise above most current technology – it overshadows it. For reference, rumour has it that the impressive looking Killzone: Shadow Fall was only using 1.5GB of RAM for graphics.

Killzone: Shadow Fall also spearheads an impressive line-up of games, including inFamous follow-up Second Son, Driveclub’s Facebook on wheels premise, and the GTA-meets-hackers open world of Watch Dogs. Add these titles to streaming content, plus a developer focus, new controls and social presence, and PS4 is more than just a new console: it’s a statement of intent and a promise for a future that starts now.

Before we look at the new controller and what it can do in more detail here are the key PS4 facts:

Holiday 2013
(regions TBC)

DualShock 4
Improved latency, controls and
motion sensing
Built-in speaker, headphone jack
and front touchpad
Front-mounted light bar both signals to player and adds motion-sensing options

PlayStation 4 Eye
Two 1280×800 resolution cameras
Four microphones
85º field of view

Main Processor
CPU  x86-64 AMD “Jaguar”,  eight cores
GPU 1.84 TFLOPS,  AMD next-generation Radeon-based graphics engine


Hard Disk Drive
Built-in Optical Drive (read-only)
Blu-ray 6xCAV
USB 3.0
Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 (EDR)
AV output HDMI
Analogue-AV out
Optical digital output