Sony PlayStation 4 Pro 4K media: Feeling Blu
The big news here is that unlike the Microsoft Xbox One S, the PS4 Pro doesn’t have a 4K Blu-ray drive - which obviously means you won’t be able to watch UHD Blu-rays on it. It’ll still play 1080p discs, but stick in a 4K Blu-ray and it’ll just comes up as “Unsupported” on the home screen.
Sony’s reasoning for omitting one? The world’s moved on; streaming services such as Netflix are more popular than buying discs. It’s a fair point, but given Microsoft managed to squeeze one into the One S, it’s still a disappointment that the more expensive PS4 Pro doesn’t have one too.
You do get 4K video, though, through the usual suspects - or at least you should do by launch. Netflix is already running in 4K, and YouTube will get there by launch too, but there’s no HDR streaming on Netflix or Amazon just yet.
This is kind of a moot point for most 4K TV owners, though. Their TVs should already have UHD-ready Amazon, Netflix and YouTube apps, just like our Samsung and Philips test screens do.
The upshot is that while The PS4 Pro may offer the best console gaming experience, it doesn’t offer quite the best home entertainment experience; you’ll need another box for that.
Sony PlayStation 4 Pro streaming: DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS
Thankfully, it’s not only about 4K, because the PS4 Pro has a few other worthwhile updates.
Streamers will love that it can now broadcast 1080p at 60fps, straight to YouTube. That’s a big quality upgrade over 720p.
Remote Play and Share Play get similar upgrades. Remote Play streams your games to a PC, Mac, PS4, Vita or Xperia device anywhere in the world, while Share Play lets you bring a friend in to play your game remotely. Both are cool, sure - but you’ll need even beefier broadband that can handle 15Mbps upload speeds.
Oh, and you can share screenshots at 4K (3840x2160) now. I don’t personally do this a lot, but some people really love composing beautiful photos in-game, so it gets a big thumbs up from us.
Sony PlayStation 4 Pro VR: Pleased to see you
The PS4 Pro’s heftier internals also give PlayStation VR a boost. Developers can again choose how to use that power, either bumping resolution, adding more effects, or improving the anti-aliasing.
In theory, these improvements will make your games more immersive, but it’s tricky when you can’t compare them side-by-side. The PSVR’s display isn’t getting any extra pixels, either.
Arcade shooter Battlezone has more noticeable differences, with dynamic lighting in your tank cockpit and better reflections. Not the sort of improvements that will have anyone dropping RM1799 on a new console, but still, nice to have.
Synesthesia shooter Rez Infinite gets a few more particle effects, but nothing that changes the experience in any meaningful way. The Playroom VR was listed as improved for PSVR too, but I was hard pressed to tell what’s different.
The biggest problem with PSVR? Its processing box doesn’t support 4K or HDR, so you have to manually swap over the cables every time you switch between VR headset and TV. It feels anything but “Pro”.
Sony PlayStation 4 Pro Verdict
As a gaming platform, PlayStation 4 is the best around - which makes the PS4 Pro the best of the best.
The Xbox One S might have helped Microsoft make up some ground, but it’s clear Sony has the momentum when it comes to games. Titles such as The Last of Us and Uncharted 4 are PlayStation-only and look best on the new hardware, while further PS4 exclusives including The Last Guardian, God of War and Death Stranding were the highlight of this year’s E3 - even if there’s still a chance they could all turn out to be rubbish.
Whether you’re playing something old such as inFAMOUS: First Light or the recent likes of Uncharted 4, games optimised for PS4 Pro look stunning on a 4K HDR TV. They are all substantially improved by the extra grunt inside this slightly bigger console. If you’ve already splashed out for a 4K HDR screen and you enjoy video games at all, the RM1799 is well worth the upgrade.
The missing 4K Blu-ray drive means the PS4 Pro isn’t a perfect 4K entertainment system, but if you’re already a streaming convert, you just won’t care.
All of which makes the PS4 Pro a great mid-cycle upgrade for the PlayStation 4, and one that crucially doesn’t leave anyone behind. For now, you can stick with what you have, and when you’re ready to make the 4K investment, you can also upgrade your PS4.
Either way, you still have access to all the all the great PS4 games coming down the line, and that’s a win-win for gamers.
Ultimately, the PS4 Pro is a system for console gamers who have a 4K TV and want the best gaming experience possible. If you meet these criteria, it’s a must-buy.