PlayStation 4 Review: The Features

Face recognition, which requires the PlayStation Camera, is scrupulous. Make sure to login while looking the exact same every time. For instance, if you wore glasses while setting up the face recognition, continue to wear glasses, or the PS4 will not recognize you. I haven't tried haircuts or clean shaves, but be cautious when using face recognition: if you plan on having a complete hairstyle change, buying new glasses (or getting glasses), or shaving off a Santa beard, make sure to disable face recognition from the PS4 first, or at least register new facial data.

Voice Chat is convenient; not superb, but convenient. The wired mono headphone that comes with the PS4 hooks right into the controller, and the audio quality is initially grievous, but getting used to it takes no time at all. Still, the headphone itself becomes very uncomfortable after a few hours, and it constantly gets pulled out by pets, gravity, and frustration. Still, its pack-in presence (and the DualShock 4's headphone jack itself) is a useful standard for PS4 owners, and utilization is simple: go straight to the Party section in the Function area or press the PS Button when the invitation arrives. What makes Party Chat even better is that it works with the PS Vita, and quality remains the same. I'm concerned that maximum voice quality might be an average of the two tech's capabilities, but the brand-new ability to communicate between two entirely different gaming devices feels invigorating.

All told, the features of PS4 expand upon PS3's offerings in a meaningful way, with convenience and connectivity at the forefront. Having all this power at your fingertips is tantalizing, making going back to older hardware a very significant hurdle.


Ernest Lin - Response

Standby Mode is a definite plus when I think of PlayStation 4's fantastic new features. In addition, being able to access and command the console from a distance with Remote Play makes the whole experience feel like spy gadgetry. Background downloading and installation of games and updates has and will continue to save me hours of waiting. There's something to be said about Sony's mission to avoid getting between you and gaming. Still, Remote Play isn't flawless, and suffers from remapped controls and connection latency. For some games, like Need for Speed, I found Remote Play to be sufficient, while Call of Duty: Ghosts saw my kill-death ratio plummet.

The Share aspect adds a big weapon to the PS4's social media arsenal. Throw away any plans to buy an HD PVR because capturing video and screenshots from games is now easier than it has ever been. The dedicated Share button makes these functions quick and painless. Want to show your Facebook friends the slick drifting you did in Need for Speed? PS4's Share feature has your back.

A feature I will sincerely miss from my PlayStation 3, which is sadly absent from the PS4, is the ability to store and play local media like music and video files. The PS3 became an entertainment hub for me and many others. I enjoyed storing my movies on the PS3 hard drive or playing them off of a USB storage device rather than messing around with discs. I don't believe the omission of the feature will drive people to purchase Video Unlimited or Music Unlimited. Maybe once Sony sees that, they will add this functionality back in with future firmware updates.


Kyle Prahl - Response

Compared to the sleek user interface, which gets most of the way toward thoughtful, comprehensive design, there's almost no missing aspect of the PS4 feature set. Part of my feeling of total satisfaction probably comes from the console's newness and my own awe at the novelty of a socially connected, convergent experience, but there's definitely something to be said for the way Sony thought of everything we need, right now, at the end of 2013. Putting the Share button through its paces early on, I was impressed by video quality and ease of use--though the former is largely dependent on the individual streamers' internet connection. Likewise, sharing gameplay clips and screenshots to Facebook and Twitter is perfect for archiving those gaming moments of skill or visual splendor that were so fleeting and ephemeral until now. The way PS4 streamlines communication--between gamer friends, social network friends, and the spectating world--extends to Party Chat, voice messaging, the PlayStation App on mobile devices, and user interface elements like game tiles and 'What's New,' both of which tell you what friends are playing, what they're accomplishing, and how you can best them.

Remote Play is worthy of its own discussion, because Sony's much-touted second-screen functionality works (almost) exactly as advertised. Streaming PS4 gameplay to your small screen in the same room is generally lag-free; just about every game genre is enjoyable, whether via direct connection to the system or transference through an in-room router. Away from this core space, the experience starts to falter. It's difficult for me to hold a lag-free connection for more than a couple minutes one room over. I can't speak to Remote Play abroad, as I've yet to be in a situation where Wi-Fi protocols or speed aren't obstacles. But the most important aspect of Remote Play is that it works well in situations where another person needs the TV, or when multi-tasking between PS4 gameplay and movie or TV watching is called for. I'm surprised by how often these moments occur now that I have a device for them--I didn't know Remote Play was a feature I needed until it came along.


Do you agree with our thoughts on the PlayStation 4 features? Have you read our reviews of the hardware and user interface? Join the conversation in the comments and stay tuned here for tomorrow's edition of our five-part PS4 review, where all these features go under the microscope and we examine the PlayStation 4 experience.

Remember, it's all leading up to our final, scored review of PlayStation 4 on Friday, December 6. Come back to find out PSU's final verdict on the next-generation of PlayStation.


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