Although the PS4 Pro gets most of the attention these days, with its 4K visuals, the slimmer standard PlayStation 4 is a great starting point for anyone who wants to get into console gaming and doesn8217;t have a large budget.
It is, by far, the most widely adopted format out there and is capable of playing thousands of games, many of which with high dynamic range (HDR) graphics.
- 288 x 265 x 38mm body (Pro is larger 327 x 295 x 55mm)
- Blu-ray optical drive, 500GB or 1TB HDD (can be user upgraded)
- No optical audio output (unlike original PS4)
The original launch PlayStation 4 is hard to find these days, with what was the 8216;Slim8217; now the standard model. Thus the shape and build of the current PS4 looks like the console has been on the Atkins diet for a while.
Although other consoles have benefitted from trimming down in the past, such as the PS3 and, big rival, the Xbox One S, the PS4 aesthetic makes it look cheap and more like a toy. The matte and mottled exterior looks more Primark than premium.
Still, it is a PS4 – the current iteration of the fastest selling console of all time and something that continues to bring a smile onto millions of faces on a daily basis. As soon as you load your first game you realise that its superficial looks are irrelevant, and at least some of the superslim design decisions make sense.
The physical power and eject buttons are easy to find and use – certainly easier than the weird touch-enabled strips on the original. And the glowing LED that indicates whether the PS4 is switched on or in standby mode is small and located under the buttons. It won8217;t bother your eyeline when sat under a TV.
There is one caveat. For some reason unbeknownst to us, the optical digital audio output that was present on the original PS4 has disappeared. That might not affect many, but is bad news for those who would rather feed sound directly into separate speakers or an older AV receiver that doesn8217;t accept HDMI.
All other ports you8217;d require, including two USB 3.1 sockets, Ethernet, the aforementioned HDMI and an AUX hole for the PlayStation Camera (yes, some people still use that, honest), are present and correct.
- HDR capable (if you have compatible TV connected) for some games
- Full HD 1080p maximum output resolution (Pro offers 4K 2160p maximum)
All PlayStation 4 models now have HDR support for relevant games and media content. Yep, you don8217;t have to have a PS4 Pro for that.
Of course HDR is only relevant for those with an HDR-enabled television and requires games to support the wider colour gamut and deeper contrast it affords. But when they do the impact is simply 8220;wow8221;.
- What PS4 games are HDR ready?
There are plenty of games these days that can benefit from the deeper blacks and higher white peaks of HDR. And there will be even more in the future. Most games released for PS4 going forward promise HDR graphics.
The user interface is constantly being improved over time, so is now vastly superior than the one launched many moons ago. Indeed, most times we fire up the PlayStation after a hiatus (usually owed to Switch play), there8217;s an update that8217;s required to continue.
Patches over the years have added plenty of new features and, while it isn8217;t quite as complex as the Xbox One dashboard, we find it is easier to navigate and get to the most important aspects – namely playing games.
- Bundled controller works with PS4 and PC
- Top-down light strip position helps know which player you are
For the more recent PS4 (and indeed the PS4 Pro) Sony redesigned its DualShock 4 controller. It has an added, player-facing LED light strip along the top of the controller8217;s touch panel, which is different to the original version. This is so players can see it without having to flip the gamepad over, to see which colour they are during multiplayer games or the like.
The latest pad also adds the ability of communication through the USB port. This means you can use it with a PC, for example, without any complicated set-up processes.
You can still use former DualShock 4 controllers too, so if you see any on eBay or are upgrading from an original PlayStation 4, you can use them as additional gamepads. And you might need to buy an extra after lots of play: we8217;ve somehow torn the coating of one analogue stick due to excess thumb action.
- Optical Blu-ray drive, not UHD Blu-ray (no PS4 has such a drive)
- 500GB or 1TB hard drive options (can be user upgraded)
We8217;ve found that the latest PS4 is the least noisy PlayStation 4 we8217;ve encountered, at least when playing games off the hard drive.
There were times on hot days that our original PS4 sounded like an industrial leaf blower (probably down to the accumulation of dust in its vents over time), and even the PS4 Pro can groan under the heat, but we8217;ve had no such issues with the standard PS4. The disc drive makes a little noise when turning, but it8217;s not much of an annoyance.
That8217;s with both game discs and Blu-ray or DVD. It8217;s a crying shame that Sony decided against upgrading the drive to one that can spin 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays in any of its consoles, which is something Microsoft includes with the Xbox One S and One X. But the PS48217;s HDMI port isn8217;t 4K compatible anyway, so it8217;s irrelevant in this case.
The latter is actually quite easy thanks to a slide-out HDD caddy hidden under a flap near the rear. We swapped ours for a Samsung 2TB 2.5-inch drive and, as long as you have the right screwdriver to hand (a Philips #1), it8217;s a doddle. It cost us an extra £80 for the drive, but that8217;s well worth it.
All this chat and we8217;ve not even reached the pinnacle purpose of the PS4: the games.
There8217;s heaps of third-party and indie support, too, so whether you like puzzlers, role-players, adventures, fighting or driving games, there8217;s truly something for everyone.