It’s been a while since I’ve written an opinion piece, but I think the timing is perfect to jump back on the bandwagon. First we have to assume that Sony’s “future of PlayStation” press conference is indeed about the PS4, because if it isn’t the backlash will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. I think it’s also safe to say that we’re not going to get too much info at the event, as Sony still has eight months before the system releases, if not more. So with those realities in check, let’s talk about what I believe Sony will reveal come February 20th.
Since Sony is a hardware manufacturer by trade, I don’t think it’s out of the question to expect them to reveal the official tech specs. We may not hear them talk about the tech specs during the conference, but buried somewhere in the press hand-outs will be the goods. Currently the rumored tech specs, based off existing dev kits are as follows.
- System Memory: 8GB
- Video Memory: 2.2 GB
- CPU: 4x Dual-Core AMD64 “Bulldozer” (so, 8x cores)
- GPU: AMD R10xx
- Ports: 4x USB 3.0, 2x Ethernet
- Drive: Blu-Ray
- HDD: 160GB
- Audio Output: HDMI & Optical, 2.0, 5.1 & 7.1 channels
Will these specs remain the same, or are they already outdated? Truthfully, from what I know of technology, these look pretty good for a next-gen system. They also fall in line with the rumored “next Xbox” specs. Keep in mind that consoles don’t require the same amount of power as super high-end PCs, because they’re not expected to do nearly the same number of calculations. So bottom line, I think we’re going to see these specs on February 20th. As for the hard drive, I’m hoping it will be user-swappable again because I loved that about the PS3. I don’t expect the new system to ship with only 160GB either, that was clearly what the dev kits had pre-installed. Expect a higher amount of gigs for sure.
The next big rumor flying around that I believe we’ll have solid info on is the controller. Right now all we know is that Sony has been looking at ways to change-up the vintage design. Don’t expect anything too drastic, like the boomerang controller that debuted along with the PS3 when it was originally unveiled. No, I think slight refinements to the triggers, and the added functionality we’ve been hearing about seems possible. So what new features, namely a share button being added to the controller and the removal of the PS, start and select buttons all being replaced by a new track-pad touch interface of some sort. Here’s a mock-up I found on Kotaku that seems to showcase these elements. How exactly this track-pad enhances anything remains to be seen.
I also believe you can expect Sony to discuss a little bit about the future of the PlayStation Network, especially when it comes to this “share” concept. Part of me likes to think that they’ve taken the LittleBigPlanet concept of Create, Play, Share to a whole new level. That rumored share button on the controller is supposed to allow users to share videos (up to 15 minutes worth), screenshots, and more with other PS4 users. I think if this holds out, we can expect Sony to highlight some new features of the PSN wrapped around this concept. Expect multiple user sign-ins, cloud saves and much more. Imagine if all saved games were done via the cloud. This would allow a friend of yours to come to your place, sign-in on a game you’re both playing so you can both earn trophies (a la Xbox Live), and then save whatever progress you make to the cloud so that when they return home they can easily continue where the two of you left off. Nice, clean and simple. I don’t expect to have to go into a wide array of options to save my game either. I expect the game to automatically detect an internet connection and save to the cloud right away.
Notice I haven’t talked about games, and there’s a reason for that. I think we’re only going to get a few sizzle reels, a couple of first-party trailers and that’s about it. The real meat and potatoes of hands-on time with the system will come at E3. While it would be awesome to see tons of games, that would really kill the wow factor at E3, which is what Sony and Microsoft are going to need to keep the press drooling over their new hardware. So we should all keep our expectations in check. This is mainly going to be a hardware reveal, showing the world a small glimpse of what’s to come.
To wrap this up, I think Sony will use this time to primarily focus on the hardware, the new controller and their new concept of bringing in more social aspects via the share abilities of the system. I also expect Sony to make a big deal out of 4K Ultra High-Definition, saying the PS4 will be one of the first mainstream devices to output in native 4K. They shouldn’t go too nuts with 4K as UHDTV sets only just hit the market and sell for $20,000 and up. That could scare people into thinking this will be another $600 machine, which I don’t think Sony is going to do. In fact I don’t think Sony will mention a release date or pricing until E3. I could be wrong, but I think they’re planning this as an unveil party only, and a follow-up at E3.
So what do you all think will happen? Should we keep our expectations in check or go wild and expect full details, and hands-on impression starting on the 20th? Let us know in the comments below.