Sony reveals ‘PlayStation 4 Pro’ capable of 4K and HDR gaming; Microsoft responds that Scorpio’s power advantage will be “obvious”
Sony has revealed their PlayStation 4 Pro, after months of speculation. It’s a beefier, more powerful PS4. I’ve already pre-ordered mine. At the same time, Microsoft has already lobbed bombs at Sony’s next iteration, saying that the power advantage of the new XB1 iteration will be “obvious” — I will preorder that, as well.
The console that was being referred to as the PlayStation 4 Neo, has been formally unveiled by Sony at its ongoing event and will be known as the PlayStation 4 Pro.
Sony has revealed that it has worked on improving the internal hardware of the PlayStation 4 Pro in order to support high-resolution output for modern TVs. It intends to bring new gaming experiences to gamers with 4K and HDR output. Existing PS4 consoles will also be getting support for HDR with an upcoming software update.
The PlayStation 4 Pro has an improved processor and graphics chip that will enable the console to pump out eight million pixels worth of such experiences. The console will come with a 1 TB HDD standard. Even though the output will be updated to 4K, only a handful of games will initially support the resolution natively. Game makers are expected to release updates to bring in support for 4K in the coming months.
Some of these games include Spiderman, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered and Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Gamers with 1080p screens will also benefit from the upgraded internal hardware of the PlayStation 4 Pro as they will notice higher frame rates and high fidelity graphics.
Sony will begin selling the PlayStation 4 Pro for the same price as that of the original PlayStation 4 at launch, which was $399 for the US and €399 in Europe. The console will be available starting November 10 in major markets.
Albert Penello seems sanguine about Sony’s long-awaited unveiling of the PlayStation 4 Pro (formerly known by its in-development codename, “Neo”).
“I feel pretty good about the decisions we’ve made,” said Penello, who serves as senior director of product management and planning at Xbox, in a phone interview with Polygon today. In this, Penello is referring to Microsoft’s announcement in June of its own “mid-generation” console upgrade, currently referred to as “Project Scorpio,” but he’s also referencing both Microsoft’s and Sony’s more entry-level options. “I feel good about what we’ve done with the Xbox One S,” Penello said. “Both we and Sony are investing in 4K as the future of the console space, and we have a history of adding features to our hardware.”
Penello pointed out that the Xbox One S is a more feature-complete system in some ways than even the just-announced PlayStation 4 Pro, to say nothing of the PlayStation 4 Slim that Sony also officially announced today. Other prominent Xbox employees expressed similar opinions on Twitter, including Aaron Greenberg, head of games marketing.
“I FEEL PRETTY GOOD ABOUT THE DECISIONS WE’VE MADE”
Xbox representatives were quick to point out the absence of a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray drive in the PlayStation 4 Pro. When pressed about the inclusion of a UHD Blu-ray drive in Scorpio, Penello said the console would have one, though a Microsoft spokesperson clarified that it is the company’s “intention to deliver it.”
One of the bigger surprises at today’s Sony presser was the company’s assertion that it would release a firmware update adding “HDR compatibility” to all existing PS4 consoles, going back to the platform’s launch in November 2013. When asked if Microsoft would be able to offer a similar patch to customers who own an Xbox One but not an Xbox One S — which Microsoft introduced in part because of its addition of both 4K and HDR support — Penello was non-committal, saying, “Until I know more about how they’re doing it, I can’t speak to whether or not we can offer something similar.”
Current UHD 4k industry standards require an HDMI 2.0a connection with HDCP 2.2 enabled to support HDR10 and Dolby Vision, the competing HDR standards in North America. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launched in 2013 with HDMI 1.4 support, which offers some support for expanded color gamuts, one component of the current HDR standards. HDMI 2.0a requires specific hardware to support HDR requirements, and while some devices can be upgraded from HDMI 2.0 to 2.0a, it’s unclear if this is the case with the PS4’s HDMI 1.4 output.
With Sony’s announcement of a November 10 release this fall and a price tag of $399, eyes are now on Microsoft to announce more about Scorpio. Penello wouldn’t speak to price, explaining in part that these things are still being determined. “We know it’s important to deliver an experience that demonstrates the power gap between [the PS4 Pro and Scorpio] at a price that makes sense to console gamers,” he said.
Penello was confident that Microsoft’s upcoming console will convincingly eclipse Sony’s upgraded hardware. While Sony did not discuss hardware specifications on stage during their press conference, a press release from the company confirmed earlier reports putting the PS4 Pro’s GPU at 4.2 teraflops of computing power.
This means Scorpio — which Microsoft has said will feature a GPU clocked at 6 teraflops — will be approximately 43 percent more powerful on paper than Sony’s system. “The performance delta will be obvious,” said Penello. Other information about Scorpio remains unknown; Microsoft has touted the system’s increased memory bandwidth, for example, but hasn’t yet clarified whether the system will have more RAM than the existing Xbox One and Xbox One S.