Sony today announced two new video game consoles. A new cost-reduced PlayStation 4 model will replace the current console, and the new PlayStation 4 Pro will provide basic 4K gaming capabilities.
With these two consoles, Sony seems to be taking a page from the Xbox playbook. But Sony is doing things a bit differently than is Microsoft. And those difference are important.
For starters, both of Sony’s new PlayStation consoles are shipping this year. Microsoft announced and then delivered the cost-reduced Xbox One S this summer, but a coming 4K- (and VR-) capable “Project Scorpio” console won’t arrive until holiday 2017.
Where the Xbox One S offers additional capabilities over the original Xbox One—4K video and Blu-ray support, for example, and HDR compatibility—the slimmer new base PlayStation 4 does not. Yes, it features a slimmer and cost-reduced design. But there’s no incentive at all for current PS4 owners to upgrade to this console. (That said, the slimmer new PS4 does ship with a slightly updated version of Sony’s DualShock 4 controller. The Xbox One S ships with a new controller too.)
But here’s where things get really weird.
The PlayStation 4 Pro features a faster processor and better graphics that Sony says can scale all the way to 4K resolutions. But only in games. That is, the PS4 Pro will not support 4K Blu-ray discs*, as does the entry-level Xbox One S today. The PS4 Pro will also support HDR video, like the Xbox One S.
(* Actually, the PS4 Pro will support 4K streaming video. Just not discs. –Paul)
PS4 Pro will also offer an improved VR experience, though you should remember that all PS4 consoles will be PlayStation VR compatible. Xbox One and Xbox One S do not support VR and never will; Microsoft has vaguely promised VR capabilities in the Project Scorpio console next year.
The slimmer new PS4 ships this month for $299. The PS4 Pro ships on November 10 and will cost $399. For that price, you’ll get a 1 TB HDD too.