By Jeff Bond on November 19, 2013 at 4:09pm
We've all gotten our PS4s on launch day and have been digging in and getting our grubby little hands on every nook and cranny we can find. Does it live up to the hype? Let’s find out.
Right off the bat, the packaging was slim but seemed decent enough to handle the bumps of shipping with no visible damage anywhere on the box or its contents. Unboxing was just like you have seen time and time again, so we’re going to skip past all that and jump right in.
The console itself is, as advertised, a black slanted box. Port selection seems to be plentiful and should handle all the connections you want. Some people have been reporting slight damage to the HDMI port, but those reports are few and far between. However, it was worth checking out to make sure everything was in order. The USB ports on the front gave a few folks trouble when they opted to perform the 1.5 system update via a flash drive, because the opening was slightly too narrow for bulkier flash drives; your mileage may vary. The indicator light on the top of the console blends in nicely and isn’t so bright as to be distracting if you’re gaming in a dark room. Fans spin up when the console turns on and when a game disc is inserted, but other than that, they run pretty quietly. Noise is not an issue, even though the internal power supply that needs cooling. The only gripe with the console itself is the size of the "Eject" and "Power" buttons. They are slim and look great, but sometimes, it felt like my stubby little fingers just weren’t small enough to hit them reliably. Or I had to poke them a few times to get it to register.
The controller feels great, plain and simple. Xbox definitely has competition for controller feel, and with the ability to use the Dual Shock 4 on PCs, this thing is going to make its mark. It’s slightly heavier than the previous Dual Shock 3, but that’s not really a bad thing. It feels more solid and like it has a more quality build overall. The touchpad is smooth and clicks nicely, the directional pad and four face buttons are positioned well and are just about exactly what you would expect. The Share and Option buttons, while in a great position, are almost flush with the face of the controller making it difficult to hit them easily. The headphone jack is one of the most underrated features from what I’ve seen so far. If you’re playing late at night or if a significant other is sleeping, you can route all system audio to the headphones connected to the controller, which is incredibly convenient. The lightbar is surprisingly bright, more so than we had initially expected, but it doesn't cause an annoying reflection on your television, which was a concern some were worried about. All in all, the controller is a welcome leap forward from the Dual Shock 3. There is a however a noticeable trade off with battery life, but with the added ability to charge the controllers while in standby, we didn’t find it impacted things enough to make any significant difference. If you manage to run through the approximately eight hour battery down in one sitting, it's time for you to take a break anyways. Just plug it in after you're done like you do your smartphone, and all will be well.
Backtracking just a bit, the console came with a little mono earbud/mic headset to use. It was a nice little addition. However, it does have a few quality issues that would suggest replacing it if you plan on using a headset for any substantial period of time. For the average user, it works well enough. The inline mic is in a good place, and the clip is a nice touch, certainly passable. The headset itself though, as a whole, feels very cheaply made, so here's hoping we're wrong and is more durable than it lets on. You can, of course, use any headset in place of it as long as it uses your standard headphone jack. You can also use the mic to activate voice controls if you do not have the PlayStation 4 camera simply start by saying "PlayStation".
Finally, the operating system and user interface are very clean and simple. We had trouble connecting to PSN due to the initial rush of people hammering the service on launch day, but things have smoothed out allowing us to get hands on with all of the features it has to offer. The home screen is very similar to the PS3 in that it the long horizontal row has lived to see another day. However, it has been broken up into two sections: a top row for lesser used options and a main row front and center for all of your core functions. The OS is snappy, and aside from the bumps with PSN connectivity on launch day, it has been a smooth and pleasant experience. A few things that are missing - hopefully they'll be patched in - are the lack of media center options and the lack of customization. Users are currently limited to a handful of online streaming services with no way to play local content and unlike the PS3. Users cannot even change the color scheme of the OS.
Overall, the PS4 seems to be a resounding success and has met many of players expectations. The system is quiet, the controller is vastly improved, and with a patch or two, the OS is a pleasant step up from that of the PS3. All we need now are those delayed launch titles.