The PS4/PlayStation 4/topofeveryone'sChristmaslist4 is getting its eagerly-awaited launch on November 15th in North America, and here in the UK on the 29th. PlayStation has recently uploaded this FAQ, subsequently sending hordes of slavering nerds into a state of speculative reverie.
Typically, huge amounts of both praise and criticism have already been levelled at the next-gen console. Whilst certain features of the PS4 have caused some excitement (accessing data and game files on a second machine, a space-saving internal power supply), critics have found all kinds of problems with the upcoming device.
"It doesn't support audio CDs or MP3s," they crow, to whoever will listen. "Why can't we use external hard drives with our new baby?" From some of the more aggressive complaints about the system, you'd think Sony had elected to replace the HDMI cable with an old shoelace. But here's the thing:
Everyone's still going to buy one.
Including me. I read over that PS4 FAQ and saw everything I needed to see. The boring stuff. The everyday. The humdrum. The little reasons that barely even register with your average supergeek. So here I present my top five reasons why life with the new Playstation will be... well. Comfortable. Easy.
Because it really does matter.
Anyone else remember the original PS3 design? The device Sony released in 2006 was a monster -- a 5kg behemoth with a distended belly that dwarfed all but the chunkiest of VHS players. For younger readers, a VHS was a kind of -- no. I've seen that joke made far too many times. I refuse. Anyway, the Playstation's third incarnation was a beast. Sleek in design, but gargantuan in scale.
So, now, to the PS4. The new machine is a mere 53mm in height, compared to the old PS3's 98mm. That's practically half the size. It'll slot into your TV stand comfortably, and at a humble 2.8kg, you could feasibly take the thing, in a laptop case, round to a mate's house (for one of those charmingly retro 'pre-internet' gaming sessions) without breaking your back.
And from what I can see, it might even be closer in shape to the original PlayStation's controller than the PS3's.
Xbox fanatics decry the PlayStation's DualShock, claiming the 360's is the most ergonomic, excellently-designed, United States Military-approved, blah, blah, blah controller around. Maybe there's some truth in it. But Microsoft had a lot of making up to do anyway, given that the original Xbox's gamepad worked like a bizarre form of palm torture.
The truth is, there's beauty in simplicity, and Sony had it nailed with the first PlayStation (once those essential joysticks were added). The controller has been updated, sure, but never once deviated from the standard structure. Why? It works. I can't even begin to imagine how disappointed I would have been if the PS4 had come packaged with a sleek, black, Wii-esque remote. I might have cried.
I said these reasons were boring, right?
We've all done it. Played Call of Duty or Fallout or the Hannah Montana movie tie-in until our eyes are caked over with dust and carpal tunnels are incapacitating our hands. And we've reluctantly saved the game, and climbed wearily into bed. But of course, that's just when we have those breakthrough moments: "Of course! I didn't explore that other dungeon, that's gotta be where I find that sword that'll boost my health, and THEN I can tackle the dragon!"
But how to return to gaming without waking the girlfriend/parents/overly attentive cat? Sony has confirmed that the new console has a new cooling system "optimised for living room use" (whatever that means) and will be much quieter than its predecessor. Stealth-gaming is on! Most exciting about this (yes, I said exciting) is that when you're watching a film, there won't be that aggressively loud whirr interrupting all the quiet bits. Which leads nicely on to...
"But of course it does!" I hear you cry.
But also confirmed in the FAQ is the fact that PS4 games will be sold on Blu-ray discs. There wasn't actually any real need to include a DVD-playing feature. Hell, the thing won't play audio CDs. Sure, Blu-rays are better, but if you're like me you'll have close to a metric tonne of DVDs that will, one day, be rendered obsolete.
And the longer I'm able to play those beautiful digital versatile discs, the better. If the PS4 only played Blu-ray, I'd feel that was the first nail in the coffin of my film collection. At least with the new PlayStation being compatible, that's, like, another six years that I can pretend my outdated technology is still relevant.
This is a revelation.
Pretty much every smartphone in the world uses a microUSB charging port. Except the iPhone, of course, because they just have to be different. And, because nobody really has a phone that isn't 'smart' any more, that means that every non-Apple Nut will have at least one USB-microUSB cable lying around. Why is this important? Because have you ever lost the cable to charge your controller?
It's a horrendous state of affairs to find yourself in. Hair is pulled out, family members are abused, and that bastard console just sits there smirking at you, like a rural Spanish B&B owner who knows you've lost your phrasebook and is completely unwilling to attempt communication. Not so, when you've also got an HTC phone, your housemate's got a Kindle, and you can barely move between rooms without being felled by a microUSB tripwire. Interchangeable chargers. Truly, we are living in the future.
Ross Johnson has recently worked selling books, pouring pints and writing about games. In his spare time he enjoys reading books, drinking pints and playing games.
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