Posted on August 29, 2013, Tim Poon Xbox One vs. PS4: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
The clock is running out on the launch of the next generation of consoles. With Sony’s Playstation 4 set for release on Nov. 15 in North America (Nov. 29 in Europe), we now know a little less than three months before new hardware will start making its way to players’ living rooms.
But with a combined price tag of a minimum of $900, it’s going to be an expensive upgrade, and lots of players are likely to want to choose one console over the other — at least at first. How does one make that choice? To help, we’ve compiled everything we know of the Xbox One and the Playstation 4, running it down in one giant compendium of info. We hope this avalanche of knowledge will help you, the consumer, compare the machines side-by-side and make an informed purchasing decision this fall.
Used Games, Shared Games, and Old Games
Video Capture and Streaming
Launch Day Availability
Launch Day Costs
As with the past few generations, we will get new controllers along with our consoles. During the last generation, the DualShock ceased to be the de facto mental image for controllers, and the asymmetrical Xbox 360 controller took over. That could, however, change once again.
What’s New with Sony
Sony is making big changes with the DualShock 4. While it maintains the same basic layout of the DualShock 3, there’s a sizable two-point capacitive touchpad in the middle, similar to the one on the Playstation Vita. Aping the Move wand, there’s a light strip along the back that will change colors to indicate statuses like low battery and to communicate with the PlayStation 4 camera for more precise motion control. There will also be a mono speaker and a 3.5mm stereo headset jack on board. It will retail for $59.99.
What’s Changed with Sony
There are small but noticeable changes with the new DualShock. It seems to have rounded out a bit, fitting the hand much better than the previous design, which Sony hadn’t changed much in two generations. The analog sticks have a recessed dome on top to reduce slippage and the L2 and R2 buttons curve towards your fingers rather than away for a more trigger-like feel. Instead of “Start” and “Select,” an “Options” button takes over and a “Share” button is introduced.
What’s Changed with Microsoft
Rather than make additions to the controller, Microsoft has opted for iterative improvements, the most prominent of which are the Impulse Triggers, a pair of triggers that can rumble independently of the controller body for subtle but more directed feedback. The controller’s shape has flattened out a bit and become more angular, but that also means the removable battery pack is now flush with the rest of the controller.
The D-pad also has been revamped. Instead of a mushy directional blob, it has a more conventional and precise plus-style design. The “Start” and “Back” buttons have been replaced with “Menu” and “View,” which will functionally be the same but work better for non-gaming applications. It also will retail for $59.99.
As proven with the current generation, it’s more about how you use the machine rather than the actual specs. This notion will likely be reinforced once more, since the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One carry similar vital statistics, but the differences could still play a factor.
The PlayStation 4 Hardware
AMD is producing a single APU chip that combines a CPU and GPU (among other things) and contains eight x86-64 cores. The GPU can push out 1.84 teraflops through 18 compute units in a unified array, meaning they can be used for graphics, simulation, or both. The big standout bit of hardware is 8GB of unified 256-bit GDDR5 system memory, a huge change from the PlayStation 3’s two disparate 256MB pools. It’ll rock a user-upgradable 500GB HDD.
The Xbox One Hardware
Though it will also feature a custom eight-core x86-64 APU, the Xbox One will see 8GB of DDR3 RAM, putting its memory bandwidth at 68.3 GB/s instead of 176 GB/s. The GPU, based on AMD’s GCN architecture, will feature 12 compute units for 1.31 teraflops. It will also have a 500 GB HDD and, finally, a Blu-ray drive.
PlayStation 4’s Operating System
The XrossMediaBar of the PS3 will be replaced with the FreeBSD 9-based PlayStation Dynamic Menu. The home screen shows personalized content from friends, while user profiles display recent activity and trophies, and game pages highlight related content and compatible friends. The new OS makes multitasking possible, and will facilitate streaming games and sharing media. The onscreen keyboard is a popup with predictive text and sweeping analog control.
Xbox One’s Operating System
Microsoft’s approach to the Xbox One includes a hybrid of three operating systems. The console will run an Xbox OS and a version of Windows OS, with a third system working as a hypervisor. While Windows apps will not be directly compatible with Xbox One, they can be easily ported over thanks to the cut-back Windows version on the console. Xbox One will feature a redesigned Metro-style interface with tiles to display recommended and recent media, apps and games. The bundled Kinect 2.0 sensor allows for as many as six player profiles to be signed in at once. Multitasking is supported with the ability to snap apps alongside other activities, and the Kinect also supports voice commands for menu navigation and launching apps.