Sony finally announced it’s much rumored PlayStation 4 Pro, the console that would build on the power and performance of the original PlayStation 4. Although I was initially really excited for the event and found my heart racing with anticipation at the announcement of the newly upgraded console and the next step in console gaming, it was only after the dust had settled and the excitement died down that I found myself asking, Why?
You see even though I understood most of the techno-babble that Sony spewed from the stage, I don’t really consider myself an all-knowing tech expert. Hell, I basically game on consoles because I tend to feel intimidated by most PC hardware. So the question I kept asking myself after the event was, “Why should an average consumer, like myself, invest in a new Sony console two years after purchasing the PS4?” Am I missing something? Because I don’t feel like running to the nearest store (yes, I still buy at physical stores) and throwing my money at them in order to get the latest console update.
In order to answer this, another just as important question needs to be answered. What exactly is the PS4 Pro and what does it do?
Sony focused a lot of their presentation on what exactly the new PS4 Pro is capable of in regards to visuals. Their biggest sell is the fact that the new console can display 4K and HDR gaming/ video streaming content. What this means is that the console will be able to display visuals at 3820 x 2160 resolutions, where the original PS4 could only display HD visuals (1920 x 1080). This, in essence, means crisper visuals and prettier looking games, which I have to admit is something we all want. However, in order to experience the full majesty of 4K gaming / streaming players first need to own a 4K compatible TV. Now I know a lot of people will say that they already own one of these, and to you I say, please can you buy me one as well? Speaking in a South African context (yes, that is where I am from) I know, maybe, only a hand full of people who are lucky enough to own one of these 4K TV sets. So the first hurdle for prospective PS4 Pro owners is that in order to fully experience the visual capabilities of the console they would need to purchase new TV. Another issue that seems to be popping up is that the PS4 Pro will probably not be able to handle native 4K resolutions at any reasonable frame-rate meaning that some sort of 4K upscaling will take place. Now this isn’t a deal breaker, but just something to keep in mind when considering buying the console.
Sony not only focused on the 4K aspect of the new console, but also on the fact that players will be able to experience full HDR gaming. HDR basically means a wider range of richer colors and greater defined black levels, which will enhance the gaming experience even more. Another thing to keep in mind in this regard is that Sony has confirmed that all PlayStation 4 consoles will receive HDR capabilities thanks to a new firmware update that will be available next week. Obviously, it won’t make your original PS4 visuals look nearly as good as the PS4 Pro’s 4K HDR visuals, but it will give your old PS4 some new life.
So what Sony is saying is that visually there is a huge difference between the Pro and the original PS4, which makes sense.
The biggest problem and complaint I found was that the PS4 Pro will not be able to play Ultra/ 4K Blu-ray’s (why Sony, why?). Sure, most people buy their PS4’s for gaming purposes, but it just makes sense to have given the PS4 Pro the ability to play these Blu-Rays. I have to mention that it will support 4K streaming and will even have a special Netflix 4K app available for download, but again in a South African context streaming 4K seems a bit unrealistic at this stage (as it would probably kill my internet line).
With PSVR (PlayStation VR) on the horizon, and billed as the next best thing in gaming, Sony also acknowledged that although the PSVR will work fine on the original PS4, the PS4 Pro has a significant advantage. Sony has said that the PS4 Pro allows VR games to run at higher (smoother) frame rates and have more detail packed into them. Now this might be something to take note of if you are considering PSVR as low frame rates in VR gaming tends to make the wearer run for the nearest toilet/ bucket as it can cause nausea in some people (myself included).
The last concern people had regarding the introduction of the new PS4 Pro is if games will run on both the original PS4 and the new console. The answer is yes. Sony has again confirmed that games will run on both versions of the console. Obviously, the PS4 Pro games will look better, have more detail and run smoother, but Ill be darned if developers suddenly start focusing on the PS4 Pro and releasing games that run poorly on the original PS4.
So in the end what is my opinion on the whole, should I upgrade to a PS4 Pro debate? It all actually depends on a few things. If you have a 4K TV set and don’t own a PS4 already there is no question if you should get the PS4 Pro version, especially if the price isn’t an issue and you are interested in PSVR. If you already own a PS4, like myself, and don’t own a 4K TV or don’t care for 4K visuals then keeping your trusty old PS4 is the way to go. I personally don’t fully understand what Sony plans to achieve with the new console, sure the visuals are pretty, but is that reason enough to buy a new console? Again I would like to state that if you don’t already own a PS4 the Pro might be the way to go, but for those who jumped on the PlayStation bandwagon two years ago, I don’t really see the need to switch over at this stage.
In the end, the Pro seems to focus more on the tech-savvy of us out there who wants to own the most powerful, technologically advanced and latest hardware, which isn’t something to be ashamed of, it’s just that for the average Joe, I can’t find a reason to switch over to the PS4 Pro yet.