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Sony PS4 review

PlayStation 4 is a fantastic console that's improved with age

The PlayStation 3, with its with its 256MB of XDR Main RAM and 256MB of GDDR3 VRAM made it seven years, and managed to support visual feasts like The Last of Us and God of War: Ascension during its final days.

So it's pleasing to see a whole 8GB of super-fast GDDR5 memory sitting at the heart of the PS4. That's future-proofing right there, and enables the PS4 to perform tasks extremely quickly.

You'll be surprised at just how fast the system can boot and yet you into a game. Once in games, loading screens slip past almost without you noticing them.

PS4 review
The new interface is similar to that of the PS3 but it's streamlined

Interface

The PlayStation 4's interface has been streamlined considerably. Now known as the Dynamic Menu, it's composed of two horizontal feeds. The primary menu serves up games and apps, the one above it hosts your trophies, friends list, your PSN profile and system settings.

Coming out of a cold boot, you're on the homescreen in less than thirty seconds. The same goes for coming out of standby. There's still some icon pop in, meaning the menu needs a few extra second to populate. None of that is terribly impressive, performance will undoubtedly be better for those who upgrade to an SSD.

PS4 review
Games are placed front and centre in the menu

As far as responding to player inputs goes, it's very fast. You can drill through menus almost immediately, and everything moves in the blink of an eye.

This homescreen is never far away, just pressing the PlayStation button summons it and pauses your current game. Also, if you get lost in an avalanche of menus, the PS button will bring back to the primary feed, a simple alternative to spamming the back button.

Switching from one game to another will end your current session; the PlayStation warns you of this and asks you to confirm the shutdown of whatever title you have paused in the background. Better make sure you've reached a checkpoint, as the title will boot fresh the next time you play it; it does not pick up right where you left off.

PS4 review
There are limited streaming options on launch - BBC iPlayer is incoming

We said the interface is streamlined and it is, practically to a fault. That primary feed constantly reorders itself, putting the recently accessed applications first. That's fine if you're only playing a game or two, but getting at something on your back burner means scrolling to the end of an ever growing list. Icons towards the back also need a second or two to appear.

The Dynamic Menu also lumps all your streaming apps into one icon. Everything from Netflix to Amazon to whatever else is found under TV & Video. Only Sony's Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited are allowed to hang out on the homescreen.

The only icon that never moves is What's New, basically the PSN's news feed. It's always at the front of the line and clicking into is to enter a jumbled nightmare that would make Mark Zuckerberg cry or laugh, we can't decide which.

PS4 review
Navigation is easy but it could do with some refinement

It's an asymmetrical mishmash of icons representing everything your PSN friends have done, from play games to earn achievements to share gameplay videos and screenshots. It's a total mess, especially compared to the neatly laid out Dynamic Menu.

The biggest problem with What's New is not the eye gouging layout, but the fact that there's not much to be done with 80% of the information there.

Suppose there's an icon saying Joe played Battlefield 4 for three hours last night. Clicking on the icon just provides a description from the PSN Store and a link to buy the game. And you can "like" the activity, adding yet another icon to everyone's jumbled feed.

Tech Specs

Product TypeGaming Console
Hard Drive Capacity500 GB
Processor ManufacturerAMD
Graphics Controller ManufacturerATI
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeBlu-ray Disc Player
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
USBYes
HDMIYes
Product FamilyPlayStation 4
Gaming Controller ConnectivityWireless
ColourBlack
Brand NameSony
Input Device TypeGame Pad
Processor CoreOcta-core (8 Core)
Graphics Controller ModelRadeon
EthernetYes
Dual-Layer Media SupportedYes
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Height53 mm
Width275 mm
Depth305 mm
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product NamePlayStation 4 Gaming Console
Processor Speed1.60 GHz
Processor TypeJaguar
Product LinePlayStation 4
Manufacturer Part NumberPS410034
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing InformationPlayStation 4: The Best Place to Play

The PlayStation 4 system is the best place to play with dynamic, connected gaming, powerful graphics and speed, intelligent personalization, deeply integrated social capabilities, and innovative second-screen features. Combining unparalleled content, immersive gaming experiences, all of your favorite digital entertainment apps, and PlayStation exclusives, the PS4 system focuses on the gamers.
Weight (Approximate)2.80 kg