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Sony PS4 problems: should you care?

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PS4 problems
PS4 problems

The Sony PS4 is one of the most exciting new products of 2013. It’s a true next-gen console, and will define what video games look like for years to come.

However, it isn’t without problems. Here are the most serious issues of the Sony PS4 and please let us know of any others you come across with yours in the comments.

Read our PS4 review to read our complete verdict on the new console

It won’t play PS3 games
Pics 5

One of the most disappointing things about the PS4 is that it does not support PS3 games. You’ll be able to put the things in the drive, but they simply won’t run.

It’s largely down to their differing system architectures. The PS4 has a PC-like x86 architecture where the PS3 has a custom ‘Cell’ architecture. To run PS3 games, the PS4 would need to emulate these older-generation games. Even if it has the power to do so, the workload required in this means it wouldn’t really be worth it for Sony.
 
Should you care?
Absolutely, it means you need to keep your PS3 under the TV.

PS3 game streaming won’t be around until 2014Pics 2

There is another solution on the horizon – game streaming. Using tech derived from Gaikai, a company Sony acquired in 2012, you’ll be able to stream all sorts of older-gen games to the PS4 using an internet connection.

However, you won’t be able to do this until 2014. Sony has confirmed that game streaming will not be available at launch. It’s not surprising, but it is disappointing when it’s one of the most interesting new things about the console.

Should you care?
It’s more an annoyance than a serious problem.

For more info read: Can you play PS3 games on PS4?

It won’t be able to play Blu-rays and DVDs until you connect to the netPics 4

The PS4 will not be able to play Blu-rays and DVDs fresh out of the box. Before your jaws drop, you will be able to do so following an update that will be available on release day.

However, if you want to get it out of the box ready for a quick watch of a DVD of The Muppet’s Christmas Carol on Christmas Day, you can’t.

Should you care?
No, it’s not a problem unless the internet dies in which case you have bigger problems.

It'll be really hard to find one before Christmas
Pics

Unless you have pre-order, you’ll need to line up at a high street shop that’ll have launch day units, or try your luck at one of the large retailers that doesn’t do pre-orders – John Lewis is the prime example. This is pretty typical of big launches like this, but the likelihood of finding a PS4 after the launch day are slim to none.

Should you care?
Yes, if you want it in time for Christmas.

The launch line-up isn’t up to much
Pics 1

Following a bunch of last-minute (/last month) delays, the launch line-up of the PS4 does not look hugely attractive. The key titles that the console starts off with are largely either available on the Xbox One as well, or on the PS3 as well.

The PS4 has Killzone: Shadow Fall, DC Universe Online and Injustice Gods Among Us. Its other launch titles are less high-profile affairs. The Xbox One doesn’t have a stellar line-up itself, but is stronger with Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome and Crimson Dragon.  

Should you care?
Yes, games are the key reason to pick an Xbox One or PS4 and at present the games don't excite us that much. That will change in time, but there's work to be done here.

Reported frame rate issues in Call of Duty: GhostsPics 5

Some late previews of the PS4 running Call of Duty: Ghosts, possibly the highest-profile of all the launch day next-gen games, show that it doesn’t run all that well on a PS4. There are still frame rate issues, despite being very close to release. It turns out that these are related to TV refresh rates and a patch has already solved the issues, but it proves that issues will appear with the first batch of next-gen games.

Should you care?
No, it’s just a first-wave game niggle.

It doesn’t support external hard drives
Pics 2

The PS3 can be hooked up to external drives as long as they’re formatted to FAT32. The PS4 cannot connect with any external hard drives at all.

If you need more storage, you’ll have to replace the internal 500GB hard drive with your own one. Sony offers required hardware specs on the PlayStation blog – “Users can choose to install a new hard drive so long as it complies with these standards, is no thicker than 9.5mm, and is larger than 160GB.”

Should you care?
Game installs of 10GB-plus mean hardcore gamers will fill that hard drive pretty fast, so it could become a problem. A small part of us is convinced Sony will add support in future, but it's something worth considering before you buy.

Media support is likely to be much worse than on PS3Pics 3

Playing your own music and video files was more of a concern for the PS3 than it is the PS4. You can’t even play MP3s on the thing.

Would you want to? Probably not, but video support is something many of you care about, and this move suggests it won’t be too hot on the PS4. Whether the console will play MKVs, DivX files and so on is not yet clear, but the lack of MP3 support is not a good sign – neither is the lack of external hard drive support. It’s of most concern to digital pirates, but is sure to aggravate many.

Should you care?
If you’re a dodgy downloader, yes. If not, no.

It doesn’t support 4K, yet
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At launch the PS4 does not support 4K output – the resolution of the next wave of TVs, still prohibitively expensive at this point. We wouldn’t be surprised if the console ends up supporting some form of 4K output, but 4K high-end games? Don’t hold your breath.

The issue is that rendering games at 4K resolution requires much more power than doing so at 1080p. To output at 4K could require a drop in graphical fidelity in other respects – such as texture complexity and polygon count.

Should you care?
No, if you want ultra-HD gaming, buy a PC. Or a time machine.

You can’t stream music or video from a PC
Pics

Unlike the PS3, the PS4 will not support DLNA streaming from a computer. On the PlayStation blog, Sony confirmed that the console won’t support this kind of streaming.

DLNA lets you stream media between compatible devices, such as songs and videos.

Should you care?
If you’re a pirate, yes. If not, no.

Cloud saves are only available with PS Plus
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The PS4 is all about the cloud integration, but some basic cloud storage features are only available for subscribers to PS Plus, the paid part of PlayStation network.

This means that if anything goes wrong with your hard drive and you don’t have PS Plus, you’ll lose your save data. It’s a bit stingy given the relatively small amount of data most game saves require, but is a clever way for Sony to push the PS Plus service.

Should you care?
Not really. Join PS Plus, it’s good.

Conclusions

The most serious issue of the PS4 are those that’ll only really affect the hardcore tech geek crowd, not the average user. They’re also largely shared with the Xbox One, and may be fixed in the future. Whether it suffers any serious hardware issues remains to be seen, but at present the main problem remains the relative lack of games.

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