Sony PS4 Pro: Should you get it on launch day?

In Games, Apps, and OS by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

At a press event in New York City, which you may have already heard about, Sony finally took the wraps off of two new PlayStation consoles: a slimmer version that we all saw coming — a model the company simply referred to as “PS4” — and the more powerful PS4 Pro, originally code-named Neo.

The slimmed-down Sony PS4 will go for P17,300 (500GB) and P18,900 (1TB) when it lands in the Philippines on September 24. The Sony PS4 Pro is understandably more expensive at P22,900 and will be available from November in the U.S., Singapore, and select markets. Whether it arrives in local stores at around the same time is uncertain.

The Pro console brings a significant power upgrade over the older system — 4.2 teraflops of computing muscle compared to 1.84 teraflops — though its RAM remains at 8GB. Sony also doubled the base storage to 1TB, which is good news because you’re going to need every bit of memory to support the PS4 Pro’s next-gen capabilities and be able to load and run new games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and its RDR2 cheats!

As Sony emphasized during its press conference, the benefits of getting its vastly upgraded black box hinge on outputting games and streaming video at 4K resolution and the ability to render a wider variety of colors using high dynamic range (HDR) technology. Whereas the PS4 — new and old — won’t do 4K.

The next-gen system will maintain full backwards compatibility with existing PS4 games and peripherals. Certain games, including Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Infamous: First Light, will even have what Sony calls “forward compatibility,” essentially allowing you to play them with improved visual fidelity and at higher and more stable frame rates.

It will also deliver the best VR experience of any Sony console on the PlayStation VR platform, but we’re not exactly sure what that means at this point, as neither the PS4 Pro nor the PlayStation VR has hit retail shelves.

What we’re certain of is that you’ll need a top-end television that supports higher resolutions and greater dynamic range to make the most of the Pro’s upgraded hardware. And although their prices are falling, 4K HDR sets can cost tens of thousands more than their full-resolution counterparts. Never mind that you may end up paying extra for a fancy Blu-ray player to watch 4K media because Sony clearly thinks physical discs are no longer a mainstay.

Which brings us to our next point: In case you haven’t bought a new TV in a while — and many of us haven’t — are you planning on investing in one that supports 4K and HDR? Because if you aren’t, and you’d rather use your disposable income for something else, then the Pro doesn’t have as much to offer. Frankly, you’ll be better off with a regular Sony PS4, or a Microsoft Xbox One S, which is just $299 or less than P14,500 in the U.S. (before taxes).

There’s also the fact that — and this is important — developers aren’t required to produce games to Sony’s new gold standard, meaning 4K HDR games could come few and far between, and finding something you can really feel good about buying might be a rare occasion.

Well, that depends on whether you already own a compatible TV and whether a good number of developers will back Sony’s push for 4K and HDR and the PlayStation VR. If you don’t plan on upgrading to a 4K television and you couldn’t care less about VR gaming, then the Sony PS4 Pro won’t make sense for you — not now, or anytime soon.

If you don’t plan on upgrading to a 4K television and you couldn’t care less about VR gaming, then the Sony PS4 Pro won’t make sense for you — not now, or anytime soon.

Make no mistake, however, that Sony is right to bring next-gen gaming to screens. The question is whether now is the right time to do such, and if the PS4 Pro is the right machine for the job. It isn’t as huge a leap in power as its makers would have you believe; Sony’s console of the future isn’t faster than the computers of the present, isn’t faster than the console Microsoft is working on for next year.

And even with a high-end desktop graphics card — one that has more than four teraflops — a modern gaming rig will struggle to run many games natively at 4K. Which has pundits thinking the PS4 Pro won’t be doing the same, won’t be rendering titles in true 4K; instead, they will simply be upconverted from 1080p, which isn’t the same thing at all.

Then again, what’s to suggest Microsoft’s upcoming console is going to fare any better? We guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Until then, it may not be wise to commit early to Sony’s camp.

MY ADDITIONAL TAKE: I was actually ready to get the PlayStation Neo, er, Pro this year as my first (and probably only) current-gen console. Had it been at least as powerful as Microsoft’s Project Scorpio, with its 6 teraflops, the move would’ve been a no-brainer. Instead, it looks like I’ll be playing the waiting game till much later in 2017. If nothing else, at least now we know why Sony kept mum about the “not so pro after all” PS4 Pro at the E3 video-game fair in June 2016.

Main image via Polygon

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Ramon Lopez

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Reviews editor: Ramon "Monch" Lopez has 15 years of professional experience creating and editing content for print and digital publications such as Yahoo. He headed the gadgets-merchandising division of one of the Philippines’ largest retail operators somewhere in between. His latest addiction is the comments section of viral Facebook posts.