Sony PS4: Controller
Sony apparently played around with a host of prototypes and even contemplated a button-less PS4 controller. We're glad it didn't go down that route for the DualShock 4 it replaces.
Despite popular opinion to the contrary, we never felt the DualShock 3 was a bad controller, but there was definitely room for improvement. The DualShock 4 delivers where it matters. It instantly feels nicer to hold -- it has a little more weight to it and the extra width to accommodate the new features is not really an issue. The longer controller arms with the textured finish running all the way around the back and shoulder buttons don’t get as greasy as the DualShock 3 controller and adds plenty of grip, too.
The D-pad and face buttons remain the same as does the PlayStation home button in between the redesigned analogue sticks. The more concave analogue sticks accommodate twiddling fingers and thumbs much better, and movement is a little tighter and more accurate. The shoulder buttons are now narrower and don’t press in as far as the DualShock 3 triggers but still feel great underneath the fingers.
Sony has added a headphone jack and mic support, a built-in speaker, Rumble Pak-style motors for improved feedback and a clickable touchpad. Like the Wii remote, the built-in speaker amplifies in-game sounds in stereo. In the PS4 launch title Knack you can hear it in action when you collect solar crystals, but it doesn’t exactly burst with power or richness. The clickable touchpad is an interesting new addition, but is not really put to great use on the games we tested.
The Start and Select buttons have been replaced by Option and Share buttons that sit up close to the top of the D-pad and the face buttons. The Option button pauses games and will take you into in-game menus. The Share button will let you upload a screenshot or edit footage from the last 15 minutes of gameplay to upload to Facebook or Twitter. You can also use the Share button to broadcast gaming live via Twitch.TV or UStream.
At the front of the controller is the micro USB charging port and light bar that is interacts with the PlayStation Eye 2 camera. Light bar functionality can be built into games and in Killzone: Shadow Fall it will glow red when you are running low on health.
Battery life is an issue, however. The DualShock 3 was good for several days use between charges, but the DualShock 4 only lasts 7-8 hours. That's a fairly serious loss, though it's partially offset by the fact the controller now charges when the PS4 is in sleep mode.
Battery life aside, the DualShock 4 is the best PlayStation controller we have had our hands on. It’s the subtle changes that really make the difference and make it such a comfortable controller to use. We have yet to see a really compelling example of the touchpad or built-in speaker in action, but when you step up from the DualShock 3 to the DualShock 4 you will not be disappointed.
Sony PS4: Headset
One of the biggest uproars leading up to the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One has surprisingly been about gaming headsets. The Xbox One does not ship with one and is not compatible with Xbox 360 headsets. The PS4 meanwhile does support current gen headsets and comes with a headset that plugs into the jack on the DualShock 4 controller.
Don’t get too excited, though. It’s not really anything to write home about. It looks like the kind of headset you get packaged with a phone and we struggled getting the earpiece to fit. If you are planning to bark orders at your teammates, you should invest in something more substantial.
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