It might not seem that long ago but it was back in 2013 when Sony first gave us the PlayStation 4. Time for an update? It's early for a console but developers are talking about a PlayStation 4.5, PS4K or NEO, that's being developed right now.
According to developer sources the PS4.5 is under construction at Sony HQ. It's rumoured to be dealing out a major graphical processing boost. Sources close to the project claim it will arrive before the PS VR release in October. It is expected to be announced at E3 in June.
It's unclear if this will be a new console, an upgrade to the current model, or some halfway software advance between the two. Although it sounds like the GPU at least is getting an overhaul.
There is also the chance that it will simply be a slimmer PS4 as appeared with the PS3.
So what can we expect from the PS4K and when will it be here? And why is Sony reportedly working on it already?
Sony PlayStation 4K: What will it bring?
The developer sources that have talked about Sony's PlayStation 4.5 plans have affectionately referred to it as PS4K. This is, obviously, because it has a big focus on 4K content.
The current PS4 can manage to play 4K video and images for personal content only. But owing to HDCP 2.2 issues support for streaming content like Netflix still isn't available, let alone HDR and HFR support. Neither is 4K gaming with current power limitations.
The PS4.5 could be a new console that offers 4K video streaming for the likes of Netflix with support for future advances in HDR and HFR. It could also hail the advent of 4K console gaming.
Documents obtained by Giant Bomb show the PS4K, dubbed NEO, as featuring an upgraded octa-core processor running at 2.1GHz, enhanced GPU and more RAM. What's interesting is this source claims the NEO will work entirely with the PS4, so those that don't upgrade won't lose out. They will both use the same PlayStation Network store and purchases made on PS4 will carry over. Gaming online will work seamlessly between the PS4 and the NEO.
The source claims all games released from October will need to work on both consoles, adding weight to that October release date.
Sony PlayStation 4K: How will it arrive?
The thought of an entirely new console so soon after the first is a bit much. More likely, since developers are talking about Sony offering more processing power, it'll be the hardware upgrades mentioned above.
Sure, this might still come in the form of a new console packing a new GPU, and likely new HDMI 2.0a ports that play nice with HDCP 2.2.
As a fix Sony might offer a trade-in program for older consoles. Or, as a fan-friendly affordable option Sony may release a hardware add-on. This extra unit could upgrade the GPU for power, plus it could feature the correct ports for outputting to 4K UHD screens.
The way the Wall Street Journal's sources talk about the device makes it sound like an alternative to the PS4, for higher end graphics and VR gaming, aimed at those that want more than the PS4 can offer. There was the suggestion that the PS4 will continue production and remain on sale for those that don't want or need the higher end offering.
Sony PlayStation 4K: Gaming in 4K
One thing you can't do right now with a PS4 is game in 4K. While PCs are able to support that resolution, to cram that kind of hardware into a console sized unit is tough, at a reasonable price.
A GPU upgraded console or add-on should allow for game developers to push harder graphically. We're still skeptical about full frame rate 4K gaming being supported though. That said, this whole PS4.5 leak has come from game developers sharing that Sony is promising more 4K power from its future hardware.
Sony PlayStation 4K: Enhanced VR support
Sony will release its PS VR headset in October to bring virtual reality to consoles. While a host of titles have been announced for release, to coincide with the hardware arrival, there are still ways to improve.
Latency and resolution are important when you're looking at a headset right in front of your eyes. By enhancing power on the console the VR experience of the future should be more convincing for the viewer, theoretically.
Power has certainly been the centre of conversations surrounding competing PC-based VR systems and a boost to the console’s capabilities will also help PS VR remain competitive.
Sony PlayStation 4K: When will it arrive?
The original Kotaku source of the PS4K leak said the device felt "exploratory", so there is the chance that it may not even be released this year.
However, the sources of the Wall Street Journal claim the new system will be launched before the PlayStation VR headset arrives in October. The Giant Bomb leak also suggests an October release.