Xbox One vs. PS4: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
No longer content to just capture the input of your fingers, both consoles tout motion control peripherals that engage the rest of you as well. Well, more of you, anyway. The new Kinect 2.0 and the PlayStation Camera are updates to two technologies we already know. Here’s what they’ve got to offer.
This replaces the PlayStation Eye of old. Much like the Kinect, it now features two camera sensors for stereoscopic, depth-sensing vision. Each sensor has 1200×800 resolution, f/2.0 aperture, 30 centimeter capture distance, and an 85-degree field of view. Integrated into the Playstation Camera is a four-channel microphone array, though no word yet on its utility for voice commands.
Also no word on if the Playstation Camera can be used as an audio input for chat and recording, but we do know it will work with the PlayStation Move controllers and will not be included with the console. The Playstation Camera will retail separately for $59.99.
Xbox One Kinect 2.0
The new Kinect is another bump up with a 1080p wide-angle time-of-flight camera, a technology that uses the speed of light to determine distances with light pulses. With three times greater fidelity than its predecessor and 2 gigabits of data per second, the new Kinect can detect objects as small as 2.5 centimeters with a reduced latency of 20 milliseconds and also includes an infrared sensor. Demos have showcased the ability to detect heart rates, facial expressions, and body weight displacement.
The biggest news is that the biggest dudes can now get the Kinect to cooperate more easily. With a 70-degree field of view and a range of 0.8 meters to 4.2 meters, the Kinect 2.0 can track up to six people within a space. Compare that to the 1.8 meters minimum distance and four users of the original Kinect. As of now, Kinect 2.0 will come bundled with every Xbox One; though Microsoft originally said a connected Kinect was required for the Xbox One to actually work at all, it now has stated that the camera can be shut down or even unplugged without affecting the Xbox One’s other, unrelated functions.
Coming out of E3, Sony walked away with just a bit more mustard on their hot dog as Microsoft’s stringent Xbox One DRM and online policies seemed almost Orwellian by comparison. But things have changed since then, and the plot has thickened.
At its unveiling in May, it was revealed that the Xbox One would have a litany of requirements to run, which made folks quite grumpy. The console required a near-constant Internet connection, only permitting 24 hours of offline at a time before synchronization. All games, physical and digital, would be tied to a single Xbox Live account, only allowing for a one-time transfer from console to console, and limiting potential trade-ins to unspecified partner retailers.
Just days after E3, a statement was released saying that almost everything that players had vocally opposed would be fixed with a day-one patch. Region restrictions, online requirements, and disc authentication were all dropped. But along with them, family sharing, digital lending, and other features were also left behind. Later, Microsoft also dropped the previously stated requirement that the Kinect 2.0 sensor always be connected and in a standby state.
Microsoft Studios CEO Phil Spencer has called the Xbox One a “two-way conversation we have with our customers,” but many speculate that former President of the Interactive Entertainment Business Don Mattrick’s move to Zynga might have been precipitated, at least partially, by this grand reversal.
Jack Tretton, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, was smiling at E3 as he announced that the PlayStation 4 would have no used game restrictions, and reiterated that it has no always-online requirements. Afterward, the video with Yoshida and Boyes came out, a self-aware showing of this difference between Sony and Microsoft. The Internet went mildly wild.
During Sony’s Gamescom 2013 presentation, President of Sony Computer Entertainment Andrew House took another jab at Microsoft, saying “While others have shifted their message and changed their story, we were consistent in maintaining a message that is fair and in tune with consumer desires.” Then he dropped the launch date and the Internet went wild again.
Though Sony has taken the chance to criticize Microsoft, its draconian policies have all been abandoned, placing the two consoles on much more even footing going forward. Still, how both companies handle the consoles in the next generation remains to be seen, and it’s possible policies on both Microsoft and Sony’s side of the fight could change over time.
Launch Day Availability
Perhaps as important as anything else is when and where you can put down money to get these new consoles into your hands. In Sony’s case, we know everything we need to know. In Microsoft’s case, there’s just one thing missing.
The PlayStation 4 will launch on Nov. 15 in North America and November 29 in Europe, Australia, and Central and South America for $399, €399, or £349, depending on what’s in your wallet.
As of right now, all bundles are sold out online at Best Buy, GameStop and Amazon. You can still pre-order online at Walmart, but that retailer only guarantee a delivery date of “on or just after 12/31/2013,” which doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. The Walmart bundle does, however, come with either a second controller or a PlayStation Camera and a game for $517.96. That’s a savings of a whopping $2.01.
The Xbox One will launch sometime in November in North America, Australia, Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, and New Zealand. The rest of the world will have to wait until 2014. We don’t know the actual date of release, but recent rumors put it at Nov. 8, a full week before the PlayStation 4. Other rumors place the release date at “late November” past the PS4′s No. 15 release. Either way, you can get it for $499, €499, or £429.
Amazon’s Day One bundle includes a commemorative controller and the Day One achievement, or you can get the Standard Edition and save three cents. Walmart, though, will let you reserve for pick-up a Day One edition with a three-cent savings as well, though it also offers a bundle with an extra controller and a game for $617.96 (another $2.01 in savings). Best Buy will slash a whole zero dollars off a bundle consisting of a second controller, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and 12 months of Xbox Live Gold for $679.96.
Launch Day Costs
Both consoles will actually be more expensive than their retail asking prices in order to unlock full functionality, and we’re still not sure what other features Sony might require a Playstation Plus subscription to utilize. This is as complete a breakdown as is available of what you’ll be spending on each console at launch.
- Console: $399.99
- One-year Playstation Plus subscription (required for online multiplayer): $49.99
- Retail game: $59.99
Total essential Day One cost before tax: $509.97
- Playstation Camera: $59.99
- Controller: $59.99 (x3: $179.97)
Total potential Day One cost before tax: $748.94
- Console: $499.99
- One-year Xbox Live subscription (required for online multiplayer, entertainment capabilities, streaming video): $59.99
- Retail game: $59.99
Total essential Day One cost before tax: $619.97
- Controller: $59.99 (x3: $179.97)
Total potential Day One cost before tax $799.94
Because the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 are bundled with different equipment — namely, XB1 includes a camera that is an optional peripheral for the PS4 — the following is what a true 1-to-1 comparison of Day One costs, to achieve comparable functionality for both consoles.
- Xbox One total cost before tax (including Xbox Live, one game): $619.97
- PS4 total cost before tax (including Playstation Network, one game, Camera): $569.96
8/30: Added source list. Added “late november” XB1 release rumor. Removed statement on PS4 HSA/hUMA exclusivity. Clarified details on Amazon pre-orders.
8/31: Clarified XBox One Gold subscription “Television and Film” features.
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