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PlayStation 4 Review: The Experience

on 6 December 2013

As we near the end of our five-part PlayStation 4 review, including the hardware, the user interface, and the features, we tonight examine the PS4 "experience." After all, boiling a console down to technical specifications and bulletpoints foils conversation about how it feels to own a PS4--to be consuming the next-generation of entertainment.

From high-concept visions of the industry's future to failings and triumphs of individual PS4 elements, enjoy our review of the PS4 experience. All things come together in our final review of PlayStation 4 on Friday, December 6, in which three PSU editors will assign a personal score and the console's final review score will be calculated as an average of the three.

What's our final verdict on PlayStation 4? Stay glued to PSU to find out, and sound off with your thoughts on the PS4 experience in the comments below.

The Experience

“Next-gen experience” is a phrase tossed around frequently these days. But what does it mean? Some might cite sharper, more beautiful visuals. Others would say a new console era is defined by the benefits from extra horsepower for smarter artificial intelligence, larger worlds, and more meaningful interactivity. Yet what makes a console like PlayStation 4 feel like technology from the future? Its hardware, features, and design needs to come together to give the gamer a fresh and pleasant experience.

At its core, the PS4 falls into the category of “traditional gaming,” with a console you hook up to a television and a controller with physical inputs. But my time with the console reveals much more: a piece of hardware designed to enable my interaction in new and exciting ways. Sony has successfully done so, with a connected PlayStation experience across multiple platforms. My desire to play has never been higher. While I was waiting around the other day, I popped open the PlayStation App, peeked at what my friends were doing online, and browsed through the PlayStation Store for games I could remotely download on my PS4 back home. Another example involves a gameplay video by Kyle Prahl, PSU’s editor-in-chief, showing up on my Facebook news feed. Kyle had captured footage of a thrilling race around Need for Speed: Rivals' Redview County. As I watched him zip around, I noticed he beat some of my top record speeds caught by speed cameras, and I immediately wanted to get back home to play. The PS4 is all about maximizing your investment, even when life takes you elsewhere, beyond the couch limits of its predecessors.

At the same time, I’ve found the PS4 to be the most convenient console to date. No more waiting around for firmware updates and patches to slowly download and install like they did on PlayStation 3. All of that happens while the system is in Standby Mode, so everything is ready by the time I get home. But what if I forgot to download a game beforehand? In some cases, I can play as it downloads. Even the physical size of the PS4 makes finding a place for it in my packed entertainment center easy. Its connections include HDMI, optical audio, and the same common power cable as the slim PS3 models. Plus, the USB cable for charging the controller is identical to those used with nearly all Android smartphones. A replacement set of PS4 cables will never cost me more than $15--several are already lying around my house.