If Sony was trying to make a statement with the launch of its PlayStation 4 console, it did a good job. Unlike most of the rhetoric and hype before the game, the PS4 seems to have lived up to its claims and is the most powerful console on the market. You’ve seen another overhaul of your exterior and some major design modifications to your Dual Shock controller. In addition, it has expanded memory and greatly increased the performance of its processors. These updates are clearly evident and the PS4 offers stunning HD graphics that run flawlessly and at lightning speed.

With some well-equipped exclusive game titles, streaming access, and multiplayer capabilities, PlayStation enthusiasts will likely welcome the newcomer with open arms. Not to mention, this console is priced at around $ 100 less than its ardent rival, the Xbox One. As it stands today, the PS4 has made a huge entry.

Performance: 5.0 / 5.0

The PS4 has a single chip processor that combines an eight-core AMD x86-64 “Jaguar” CPU with a 1.84 teraflop GPU. It supports 8GB of GDDR5 RAM and has a 500GB mechanical hard drive. Sony boasts that its new hardware allows it to perform ten times better than the latest PS3. That is quite an impressive feat.

Another nice touch is the fact that the PS4 comes with a 500GB drive. This additional space helps download movies and games from the PlayStation market. If you ever feel pressed for space, don’t worry, because DIYers can also upgrade the hard drive without voiding your warranty.

The HD graphics of the PS4 are impressive and the responsiveness of the consoles is currently unmatched. What’s even more impressive is the fact that this machine can run at such a high level without sounding like an airplane on a runway or overheating. Not to mention that the entire power supply is inside the unit; unlike the Xbox One, which still has it plugged into the external power cord in an attempt to save space within the console.

Features: 5.0 / 5.0

The PS4 comes in the same half matte black, half gloss exterior as the Xbox One. Still, it looks completely different. That’s because the PS4 has a slim, sleek design and doesn’t look like a mid-80s oversized VCR. I’m not saying the Xbox One is the ugly stepsister of the bunch, but they probably wouldn’t ask her to prom if she was. PS3 was available and ready. Now, for everyone who was offended by such a superficial statement, I am well aware that my mother always said, “What counts is what is inside.” And in that sense, I assure you, the PS4 would still be the first to be asked to dance.

The PS4 has seen some modifications to its components, and for that reason, any of your older PlayStation peripherals won’t work, imagine.

Although the PS4 does not have prior capabilities to play your PS3 titles, many of the games you previously owned can be purchased at a considerable discount from your online store. The only downside is that you will have to insert the old PS3 disc into the console while playing the online version.

Games purchased from the PlayStation Store download directly to your hard drive and there is no need to worry about the disc getting lost or scratched. The only negative is the fact that downloaded titles cannot be borrowed for the weekend or redeemed for credit at your local game store. As this way of shopping for games becomes more popular, stores like GameStop and other game trading retailers could be taking a hit, that, or a seat next to Blockbuster in “Reminiscence Park.”

The new PS4 Dual Shock 4 has undergone some physical changes that make it stand out a bit from its previous counterpart. Some of the most notable changes pertain to the analog sticks; that have been spaced a little more to avoid collisions with the thumbs. They have also been designed with recessed caps and covered with a rubber coating to improve grip. The Dual Shock 4 also comes with an external speaker and headphone jack for your headphones, just keep in mind that you can only output in stereo from connecting the drivers; a nice touch nonetheless. I would say that one of the nicer design features of the Dual Shock 4 is the metallic touchpad on the front of the controller. It works just like a laptop’s touchpad and is extremely smooth and responsive.

Although the Dual Shock 4 can be purchased and used on the PS3, older Dual Shock 3 controllers are not compatible with the PS4.

For those who already own a PS Vita, they can stream games from their PS4 via Wi-Fi to the handheld unit. This creates a second display screen, much like the one on the Wii U, and allows you to play while someone else is using the TV. Although this is a nice feature, it probably wouldn’t justify buying the PS Vita itself.

The PlayStation Camera is a nice touch, but it takes very little interaction to figure out that it is not as robust as the Xbox Kinect and it doesn’t seem to have enough interaction with the game to be worth it. It also has a voice command feature, albeit a very limited one, and you may want to consider spending your money on another controller.

Multimedia: 4.4 / 5.0

The PS4 seems to have taken a back seat to its previous plans to be the all-in-one media center. While it can still boast of having one of the best performing Blu-Ray and DVD players on the market, unlike the PS3, you can no longer easily play music files, CDs, or stream content from your PC. Instead, it seems to work more like a Roku. However, if you just want to use the console to play games or have occasional access to Netflix and other movie apps, you’re good to go. Not to mention, movies are easy to access and can load at lightning speed. You can even use the PS4 to connect to social media and share some of the highlights of your games – nothing like showing off.

When it comes to music, both the Xbox and the PS4 have their own channels. PlayStation offers “Music Unlimited”, for a small fee, of course. It works very similar to Pandora and allows users to listen to entire albums. The only weakness is that it is a bit slower and less refined to recognize the true genre of music or artist you want. Along with this feature comes “Video Unlimited”. Another movie-based channel that’s surprisingly deep in the selection of titles and also allows streaming to alternative devices.

The PlayStation online gaming community has seen great improvements to the game interface and functionality. The only drawback, it is very similar to the Xbox, PS4 users will now have to pay to access the multiplayer area. Although this is a change from the PS3, where it was free, the experience has been vastly improved and will likely be considered worth the cost.

A useful feature of the PS4 is the iOS and Android app that allows users to connect to the PlayStation Store and buy and download games while on the go. With this app, games can be automatically downloaded to the console, while you are away from home, and then ready to play once you arrive. All in all, the PS4 still has a good interaction and variety of features in the multimedia department, but it lacks the depth experienced with the PS3. Due to some of these complaints, Sony has taken note and I imagine they will make some adjustments to their updates.

Conclusion: 4.9 / 5.0

The PS4 is $ 100 cheaper than the Xbox One, but even if you removed the Kinect component to lower the price of the Xbox, the PS4 is a much better value for the dollar. Its performance is undeniable, and while the Xbox One is a well-built unit, until Microsoft addresses some performance issues, it won’t rub shoulders with Sony.

As for the downside, the PS4 only comes with two front USB ports. We feel that this design flaw also present with the PS3 would have been fixed, but apparently not. It also lacks the depth of game titles like Xbox One, and it always has. However, it is within reach and has many high-impact exclusive titles and a promising future.

The PS4 is a powerful gaming console that offers gamers exactly what they are looking for; a perfect HD gaming experience with full functionality and control. Based on its undeniable performance, improved design, and price, Consumer High Five Reviews finds the first-round draft pick a no-brainer.

For more helpful tech and gaming reviews and articles, visit Consumer High Five. We review, you choose. You can also see the list of our top five game consoles for 2014.

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