The newest Sony console, the PlayStation 4, has a much smaller trapezoid profile than its now last-gen sibling, the PS3, and into that tighter territory it packs any number of upgrades.
• The console sports a new graphics engine and processing chip making it 9X faster than the previous model and giving it high-end graphic imaging capability.
• The system has an HDMI output with both HD & 4K support, also built in Wi-Fi and Ethernet. Blu-ray and DVD is standard for the optical drive, and the hard drive is 500 GB.
• Controller type: New wireless Dualshock 4, sporting 6 axis motion-sensing, tracking capability with a 3-D camera, a data share button (that can send short clips of gameplay to social media links), built-in speaker and stereo headset jack. Also a touchpad.
• The system allows users to download game updates and full games in the background while playing something else. Streaming demos and a monthly subscription game service are both available through the PlayStation Plus subscription membership. A movie streaming service is also part and parcel with the console (for added monthly fees, of course).
• A PlayStation camera can be purchased separately. It allows a level of controller-free play. It also recognizes gamers’ faces as well as their colored-light controllers.
Note that every new PS4 game will be available for direct download. Unfortunately, though, the new console is not backward compatible with games from any other PlayStation system.
PlayStation consoles offer options to restrict game and movie content, but none that restrict time.
Game Ratings: Parents can specify how “mature” the games can be that are played on the console. But PlayStation restricts access by a number system, not by the standard ESRB rating system. So EC (early childhood), E (everyone), E10+ (everyone 10 years old and older), T (teen), M (mature) and AO (adults only) are traded in for levels 1 through 11. The lowest number is roughly equivalent to an E, while 11 would allow any game rating.
Video Ratings: Access to Blu-ray and regular DVD movie disks can be restricted as well with a number system ranging from 1 to 8 (which span the MPAA’s movie ratings of G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17).
Internet Browser Control: Parents can limit access to the system’s Internet browser based on a PIN code. Once Internet access is turned on, however, it doesn’t limit or impact browser content.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.