Sony announced the PlayStation 4 Pro yesterday, a console that actually raises as many questions as it answers. The PS4 Pro feels very much like a mid-generation effort to merely boost performance of the original machine. With that in mind, we decided to see how it stacks up against the recently launched Xbox One S. Also, how does the PlayStation 4 Pro fair against the Xbox One Project Scorpio?
Admittedly, the Xbox One S also feels like a mid-generation upgrade, the sort Microsoft said it wanted to avoid. Having said that, the Xbox One S may have actually gone further than the PS4 Pro. Let's not forget that many believed the Pro (or PS4 Neo as it was codenamed) would be a game changer.
It certainly isn't that. At the moment the console giants are racing each other to 4K gaming. The Xbox One S will upscale to 4K, but Microsoft promises Project Scorpio will render in 4K when it launches next year. The PS4 Pro was meant to be the first to offer 4K rendered gaming, but we don't think it will.
Sony is not really being forthcoming about the 4K capabilities of the PlayStation 4 Pro. A quick glance of the specs leaves us very skeptical about its ability to render games in glorious 2160p. The hardware reads as the same eight-core AMD Jaguar, admittedly clocked faster this time. Sony is using a custom AMD Radeon GPU that can get to 4.2 TFLOPS. 8GB of RAM is still the configuration, as it was on the OG PS4.
We could be wrong, but this does not look like a setup for rendering in 4K. We suspect, like the Xbox One S, the PS4 Pro will be upscaling. It will be a massive improvement for sure, but not the 4K wonderland we wanted.
Is it a huge problem? It depends, the 4K market is growing fast, but the truth is many console gamers do not have a 4K display. We will see if Microsoft can deliver 4K rendered games with Project Scorpio.
This is surely subjective, right? Well, we don't mean how the devices actually look, we think both the Xbox One S and PS4 Pro look fine. Microsoft certainly worked hard to make its new console smaller. The power pack is now located in the console and it is 40% smaller than the massive Xbox One. Sony, too, has created a slicker console compared to the original PS4. It is worth noting that the PS4 Pro is bigger than the normal PS4, despite its pleasing design.
Back to 4K, but this time for Blu-ray and streaming playback. Microsoft made the Xbox One S compatible with UHD Blu-ray discs and the console will also stream in 4K. Sony, for some reason, decided to stick with a regular Blu-ray player for the PS4 Pro.
On the surface it is hard to see why, but there may be some reasons. Firstly, the company may know that users simply do not use their console to watch Blu-ray's. Updating the technology just for the sake of it is undoubtedly pointless. Streaming services are now the go to for entertainment. Sony doubled down on this point by announcing a new Netflix app that will come soon to all PS4 iterations.
There is also the point of cost. The PS4 Pro will cost $399 in the US, which is not bad at all for its hardware prowess. Sony may have omitted the UHD drive to achieve this price.
However, Microsoft managed to get UHD support for games and content and keep the Xbox One S at $299.99.
Microsoft's upcoming Project Scorpio promises to be much more than a mid-generation upgrade. Considering Sony dropped the ball, it could usher in a new way of playing games. Not a lot is known about the console beyond some specs. It will come with a massive 6 TFLOPS of power and will certainly best the PS4 Pro in terms of power.
Sony has likely amassed enough of a sales lead to ensure it will win the current generation of the console market. However, the PS4 Pro, on the surface at least, seems like a misstep by the company. It was the chance for Sony to clearly surpass Microsoft in terms of hardware and have a year to enjoy the glory.
As it stands, it is hard to argue against the Xbox One S actually being the better product.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.