PlayStation 4 Review: The User Interface

  • Posted December 4th, 2013 at 02:03 EDT by

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Kyle Prahl - Response

The PS4 Dynamic Menu is a streamlined wonder in some areas and a bit messy in others. With chronological ordering of most recently used games and apps, the interface's most important horizontal row--Content--is catered to your interests, but it can be difficult to know exactly where to land when looking for things you haven't used in a little while. In just about everything else, placement is consistent. This familiarity is especially evident in the Function area--with Trophies, Friends, Party, and the like--above the large tiles. It's reminiscent of the XMB, which eased my transition to the new setup. Some confusion results from the Options button, which is usable on a variety of menu items and tiles. The settings within are context-sensitive, so it will take some time to reach maximum efficiency with console navigation.

But, in general, the user interface is well-organized and mercifully fast. The new PlayStation Store is a perfect example. What's "new" isn't the GUI, which still follows the sensible design and frequently updated categories of its PS3 incarnation, but how fast you can now move between selections with minimal input lag. I'm disappointed that PS Camera voice commands for menu navigation aren't more extensive (check out my Hardware review for more thoughts on the camera), but D-pad selection works just as well. All told, I'm impressed with the PS4 user interface, and I look forward to increased customization and usability to come in firmware updates as the PlayStation nation's feedback comes forth. For now, it's fast, attractive, and functional--a hearty point in favor of the console.

Tim Nunes - Response

The Function menu for settings, trophies, notifications, and the like is in reach with the touch of the Up button on the D-Pad, so gone are the days of the XMB, where searching took more time than actually doing what needed to be done. The PlayStation 4 user interface is clean, but it's not minimal. Having more than six games installed on the PS4 fills the content area, and the side scrolling of them all makes the television screen look more like a game shelf instead of a digital game collection. Every game has a convenient drop down menu that includes more information and quick access to add-ons and extra content for that game, which makes finding new map and content packs a breeze. Recently played games take precedence right next to "What's New" in Content, and everything else slides to the right to make room, but there's no changing the PS4's schemes.

Still, hopping between Functions and the Content area overcompensates for the sporadic display that Content ebbs. Like "What's New," the "TV & Video" area works as a folder for programs like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, which raises the point that having the ability to organize the main page seems like a great addition in the next software update.

A lot of negatives have been said regarding the UI, but having one screen show everything at once does have its conveniences. Across the very top, much like a pulldown bar on mobile devices, notifications are shown, like how many friends are online, if you're in a chat, your trophy rank, and the time. I've spent a lot of time looking at and interacting with the main menu, and I cannot help but see what would make this sleek, responsive experience more organized and personalized. The best part about these issues is that they aren't necessarily permanent. I expect improvements to the system's busy-ness and Content area organization soon.

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Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts on the PlayStation 4 user interface? Any opinions to share not covered here? Sound off in the comments below to join the PS4 conversation, read our PS4 hardware review, and stay tuned this week for our reviews of the PlayStation 4 features and experience before our final, scored review is published on Friday.

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Ernest Lin is a U.S. Editor for PSU and certified moé aficionado. Follow him on Twitter for ramblings on movies, anime, gaming, deals, and pop culture.
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  • Related game: PlayStation 4

    Release date (US):
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