Sony has confirmed that it'll be holding a PlayStation event on February 20th, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that all the signs point to a PlayStation 4 announcement. Let's take a look at what we know – and how Sony's eagerly anticipated console will stack up against its rival, Microsoft's Xbox 720.
Xbox 720 vs PlayStation 4 – graphics and power
Although the final specs have yet to be officially revealed, you can rest assured that the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 will be specced to the hilt.
Both the Xbox 720 and PS4 will reportedly pack eight 1.6GHz CPU cores which, coupled with their souped up 800MHz AMD 7000 series graphics cards, should deliver more than enough power to get gamers hot under the collar.
The key performance difference (if there will be any) between the two consoles could be down to the RAM. While the Xbox 720 is expected to have 8GB over the PlayStation 4's 4GB, it'll reportedly be running slower DDR3 RAM over the PlayStation 4's DDR5 offering. Strip away the letters and numbers and that means that the PlayStation 4 will have more bandwidth to play around with – which could possibly give PS4 titles a slight visual edge over the Xbox 720's offerings.
4K graphics could also be supported by both consoles, according to Wired – and although the number of 4K sets at launch will be minimal to say the least, it's important to future-proof the Xbox 720 and PS4 against the coming wave of 4K TVs. The Xbox 720 may also take advantage of Microsoft's new Illumiroom technology, which uses the Kinect and a projector to extend your TV display across an entire room.
Xbox 720 vs PlayStation 4 – controllers
We don't expect either the Xbox 360 controller or PlayStation 4 DualShock design to change much; the PS4 controller will reportedly resemble the existing DualShock, adding a touchscreen in place of the Select and Start buttons. So, don't expect any outlandish innovations like the original PlayStation 3 "boomerang" controller (pictured).
As well as handheld controllers, Sony and Microsoft are expected to further develop their motion-capture control systems, with the Xbox 720 reportedly featuring an updated Kinect 2.0 and AR glasses, and Edge Magazine reporting that the PS4 will pack an updated version of the PlayStation Eye.
Xbox 720 vs PlayStation 4 – Blu-ray and optical drive
We can almost guarantee that Microsoft has swallowed an entire plate of humble pie and will include a Blu-ray drive in the Xbox 720. Although there's been talk of the PS4 ditching physical media to rely on the cloud all together, it's unlikely that either Microsoft or Sony will be ditching the discs any time soon – it would be too much of a risk to alienate the millions of gamers with sketchy internet connections. If they do decide to ditch the Blu-ray drives then there's the possibility of using separate USB drives or even piggy backing off your PC's optical drive, MacBook Air-style.
Xbox 720 vs PlayStation 4 – media smarts
The next-gen consoles from both camps will be more than consoles. They'll be mini media hub PCs, fighting for that coveted spot under your living room telly and grappling for their hold on your credit card. From streaming music and video to renting and buying content, Sony and Microsoft want you to buy into their worlds, Apple iTunes-style.
Xbox 720 vs PlayStation 4 – games
While both consoles will undoubtedly keep their AAA exclusive titles like Halo and the God of War series, heavy hitters like Grand Theft Auto, Assassin's Creed and Generic First Person Shooter: Battlefield Ops IX will still be available for both consoles – though it's up in the air whether GTA V will be putting in an appearance on the next-gen consoles, given its September release date.
Since Sony appears to have ditched the PS3's Cell architecture for the PS 4, and that both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 will probably be running similar processors and AMD graphics cards, we should see even more simultaneous cross-platform launches this next generation. Much to the delight of keyboard and mouse fraggers, no doubt.
As for launch titles? Well, it's still early days yet, but launch titles for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 were a bit hit and miss, so hopefully Sony and Microsoft have learned their lesson. New Killzone and Gears of War titles on launch day? Yes please.
Xbox 720 vs PlayStation 4 – launch price
We're praying to the gadget gods that the PlayStation 4 won't arrive with the astronomical launch price of its predecessor. Looking at the £250 Nintendo Wii U though, we'd expect both the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 to launch at around £300-£350. Any more than that and it'll sting wallets just a little too much.
Xbox 720 vs PlayStation 4 – release date
It's not yet clear whether we can expect a release date for the PlayStation 4 at Sony's event on February 20th – and Microsoft is keeping its cards equally close to its chest on the subject of the Xbox 720. It's reasonable to expect that both consoles will be out in time for Christmas 2013 – though developers have reported that the PS4 may be delayed in Europe until early 2014. The race is on!
You might also like
5 upcoming PS3 games you need to buy