Sony PS4: specs and features wishlist
Web rumours suggest that the PS4 will go into production by the end of 2011 and that it will launch in 2012. However, with announcements made at the 2011 E3 show in LA limited to the PS Vita, it seems unlikely that the PS4 will be here this year or next. It seems more likely that the PS4 will be announced at E3 2012 with a launch date pencilled in for 2013. Whatever happens, we've been wracking our brains to come up with a spec wishlist for the PS4 - whenever it arrives. Read on to find out what we want to see from Sony's next-gen console.
More motion sensors
Word on the street is that the PS4 will be getting built-in Xbox Kinect-style motion sensing technology that enables you to become the controller. It seems a bit strange that, having ploughed so much money and effort into its Move controller, Sony would be moving to a completely new type of motion sensor technology so soon, but it's always good to have another option on board.
It's also a good feature to have for family gameplay time so that you can all partake in silly dancing-based games that require you to jump around like a fool. Once the kids are safely tucked up in bed you can revert to your controller for the far more serious business of stealing cars and shooting pimps in GTA IV. Or you can do it for real and let the PS4 motion sense you.
While it's always nice to see the power ramped up with a new console, the PS3 packs a considerable punch already. The consensus of opinion is that the PS4 will carry on using the same 3.2GHz CELL processor that made its debut in the PS3. Using the same processor means that Sony should be able to keep production costs down - something that was a major issue when the PS3 launched. This would also be good news for developers as it means that they won't have to get used to a different processor when it comes to designing their games. We would be surprised if the CELL chip doesn't see at least a couple of minor tweaks before the next-gen console. Unless someone invents a super-CELL processor in the meantime, then we're content to see the impressive CELL working it's magic once again.
While the current PS controller is perfectly functional, we'd like to see a little more from the new version. In the past, each new controller design has really just shown a few minor improvements rather than any real innovations. Top of the list is comfort. We want the controller to be weightier so that is sits more comfortably in the hands, with a little extra grip. It would also be nice to include control sticks that don't wear the skin off your thumbs during a lengthy gaming session. Is that too much to ask? A few extra treats, such as a built-in accelorometer or even some sort of touchpad control, as found on the PS Vita might be an idea, too.
There isn't much news on the GPU front so far, despite a few rumours, which have since been quashed by Sony. The manufacturer developed the PS3's RSX chip in colloboration with Nvidia, but the internet rumourmill suggested that Sony would be dumping Nvidia and jumping into bed with Intel with the PS4. Not true, countered Sony.
Whatever the case, naturally we'd like to see some sort of step up in graphics processing. As the on-board CELL processor is capable of taking some of the graphics work itself, the PS4 can get away with a reasonably mid-range GPU (anything too high-end would push the price up too much). Web rumours suggest the Nvidia GTX560 chip as the most likely GPU for the PS4, but seeing as the PS3 uses a proprietary chip that was developed specifically for the task in hand, we're not sure that Sony would switch to generic graphics card. We'll just have to wait and see.
1TB hard drive
On the PS3, the maximum built-in memory capacity available is 320GB so we'd like to see some improvement in this respect. In fact, what we want to see is a massive 1TB of hard drive memory. As technology moves on and games become more complicated, we need more memory available, not only to store downloaded titles, but also to store our gameplay as we go along as we don't want to have to worry about it getting full up and interrupting our hectic gameplay schedule (we don't have an actual schedule. Well, most of us don't). We also need plenty of room for our HD videos and we reckon that 1TB would do nicely.
While we'd like to see a flatter design, rather than the convex bubble-shaped chassis of the PS3, we're aware that this particular design feature comes to down to keeping things cool. More space is needed within the cabinet for airflow as the advanced processors used today are much more likely to overheat than those used on older models. We know we're not supposed to pile things on top of our games consoles anymore, in order to keep the airflow going, but we would like to be able stand the PS4 on its side so that it takes up less room. While we can already do that with the PS3 if we want, Sony advises that it's best to lie it flat. Spoilsports.
PS Vita/tablet integration
We've already talked about some improvements that we'd like to see on the current PS3 controller, but how about going the whole hog and making use of a Wii U style touchscreen-based controller? Integrating the recently announced PS Vita would seem like the obvious option. We've also heard rumours about some sort of Google partnership which could pave the way for some integrated Android features. It's also possible that this could point to some sort of dedicated Android tablet that could be used with the PS4 either as a controller for games, or as a sort of remote control for home cinema functions.
This may be a slightly crazy idea, but how about backwards compatibility - not just with the PS3, but with ALL previous PlayStations. Although novel, this concept is something of a double-edged sword. You might have a shed load of old games that you cling too as if your life depended on it, but will you ever really play them again? Once you've started playing more recent games with better graphics on a massive TV, you soon realise that your old games will be not only painfully to look at, but also unbearably tedious. Still, it would nice to have access to a few old cult classic from the PS2 whenever we feel the urge...
Better Blu-ray audio processor
The inclusion of a built-in Blu-ray player on the PS3 was a masterstroke by Sony and was a key element in its victory over HD DVD in the high-def format war. Now that objective has been accomplished and Blu-ray is the standard HD disc format, it's debatable whether the PS4 will actually include Blu-ray capability at all - if it doesn't, it would certainly keep the price down. However, if it does then we'd like to see a better audio processor to cope with the Blu-ray soundtracks using high-def audio formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
MKV playback support
Video file format support in the PS3 is generally pretty good - with MPEG-4, AVI, AVCHD, DivX and WMV all being catered for. However, the PS3 doesn't support MKV file playback. Although there are ways to watch your MKV files on your PS3 by using convertor software, this can be a time-consuming process so we'd like to see native MKV support built into the PS4 from the off. It's possible that Sony may be reluctant to include MKV support due to its popularity among illegal downloaders, but we'll wait and see what happens.
The PS already features a Blu-ray player as well as LoveFilm streaming, but there have been suggestions that Sony might push the home cinema offering even further with the inclusion of a built-in DVR for recording programmes straight from the TV (or set-top box). However, this is something that would inevitably push the price up so Sony may decide to stick to gaming capabilities to make the PS4 as affordable as possible. The same goes for the Blu-ray player.
More USB ports
It's likely that any USB ports on the PS4 will support the latest 3.0 standard rather than the USB 2.0 ports rocked by the PS3. This should result in a speedier connection - handy for backing up your data more quickly. It would also be nice to have more USB ports, to inprove the paltry two connections offered by the PS3 - four would be nice.
As with any major console launch, the speed at which the public buy into the new technology on offer is likely to come down to launch titles (although this probably won't make as much difference to the die-hard fans who are prepared to queue overnight to get their hands on the kit first). As there isn't even a confirmed launch date for the console yet, obviously we don't know much about the games that will be available. But we can tell you what we'd like to see. Driving games are high up on our list, so Gran Turismo and GTA V would be nice and maybe a spot of footie from FIFA 13. Metal Gear Solid 3D (complete with a wireless 3D visor) and new versions of Fallout, Wipeout and COD would also be great to see, as would Infamous 3 (or maybe even 4). We'd be very surprised if Sony didn't have LittleBigPlanet 3 lined up for the launch.
What would you like to see on the PS4? Let us know in the comments box below.