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What the PS4 Can and Can't Do

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 38 comments
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This article was updated on 11/12/13.

With only two weeks left until the PlayStation 4 launches in North America, Sony has taken some time to set the record straight on everything the system does — and doesn't do. An extensive FAQ clears up a few of the PS4's remaining mysteries but has some bad news for day-one purchasers.

Most of the information in the FAQ is very straightforward: The PS4 will launch on Nov. 15, cost $399.99 in North America, and include a console, a controller, a charging cable, a headset and an HDMI cable.

MORE: PS4 vs. Xbox One: Console Comparison

Keep in mind that, unlike the PS3, the PS4 requires an HDMI connection, so SDTVs or HDTVs with only DVI or component connections won't cut it without some kind of adapter (which you'll have to purchase separately).

PS4 storage capacity

Sony has also set the record straight on external hard drives: You can't use them. The PS4's default hard drive is 500GB, and you can swap it out for other higher-capacity 9.5-mm hard drives. This capability will be handy, considering that many PS4 launch titles weigh in between 30 and 50GB.

HD and 4K support

Users hoping for the PS4 to lead the way in gaming applications for 4K TVs might want to temper their expectations, too. The PS4 supports up to only 1080p resolution for both games and video.

On the other hand, users no longer have to rejigger the system's resolution manually. The PS4 can automatically detect its optimal output every time it's connected to a new TV, eliminating some of the hassle associated with moving the system around.

Blu-ray and DVD video hassles

Like the PS3, the PS4 will support Blu-ray discs, but if you don't plan on hooking your system up to the Internet, you're going to have to do a little legwork. Neither DVD support nor Blu-ray support is endemic to the system, and both will require a day-one software update. Otherwise, you will need to contact Sony's customer service, which will send you an activation disc.

Reduced music playback

Speaking of discs, the days of listening to audio CDs on your Sony console are over. That may not sound like a big deal, but the system will also not support MP3s, either those loaded onto its hard drive or streaming from your computer.

No streaming from PCs

In fact, you won't be able to stream anything from your PC. The PS4 does not support media servers. This feature allowed PS3s to stream video and music from a user's PC, or a third-party service like PlayOn. Without media servers, you will be limited to the PS4's native video apps (like Netflix) or whatever runs through the system's built-in Web browser.

Virtually no free online play

As Sony hinted at E3, playing online for free will also be a thing of the past, for the most part. Only PlayStation Plus ($49.99/year) members will be able to play most games online with their friends and foes. Certain free-to-play titles, like "Blacklight: Retribution" and "DC Universe Online," however, will be accessible to the hoi polloi.

Limits on recording video

The FAQ also touches on the ability to record and share gameplay footage, and the feature is not as robust as many game video producers had initially hoped. The system will automatically keep in a cache the last 15 minutes of whichever game you're playing. You can then choose to upload and share this footage via Facebook (but not YouTube).

Aside from setting starting and ending points, though, your editing options are fairly limited. You can't add narration (unless you were speaking into a headset while you were playing), and you can't copy your footage over to a PC for editing, although Sony has stated that this functionality will arrive in the future.

The good points

Otherwise, all the good stuff is still good: The system has a large launch library with a number of Sony exclusives. Vita owners can stream PS4 games to their handheld systems to free up the big screen. The PlayStation Camera is totally optional, and offers some fun augmented-reality games, if you choose to invest in it.

One final thing to keep in mind: While many PS4 games are enormous, you won't be required to download or install each game before you can start playing it. Certain games, like "Killzone: Shadow Fall," will let you start playing before the installation is complete.

Beyond that, check the FAQ if you have a specific question. Alternatively, wait two weeks, buy a PS4, and see for yourself what it can and can't do.

UPDATE: Based on Sony's Software Usage Terms, we've added some additional information on privacy and reselling games:

Privacy

Section 14 of the PS4's Software Usage Terms is titled "Are we monitoring PSN?" This details how Sony keeps track of users and user-generated media (UGM), including but not limited to written messages, voice messages and uploaded videos.

"We can't monitor all PSN activity and we make no commitment to do so," Sony states. "However, we reserve the right in our sole discretion to monitor and record any or all of your PSN activity and to remove any of your UGM at our sole discretion, without further notice to you."
In practice, this likely means that Sony will monitor players who have been reported for bad behavior or posting offensive content, especially since previous sections deal with negative online experiences and how to report them.

Reselling Games

Section 7, which deals with resale: "You must not resell either Disc-based Software or Software Downloads, unless expressly authorized by us and, if the publisher is another company, additionally by the publisher."
The message is clear: Lending PS4 games may be as easy as handing them over to a friend, but reselling them may require a few extra hoops. Sony and individual publishers may not put any restrictions on reselling games, but they have every right to.

At present, neither Sony nor any publisher has announced any plans to put restrictions on reselling games. By purchasing a PS4 and its associated software, though, you are agreeing to let Sony restrict how you sell your games if it ever so chooses.

Follow Marshall Honorof @marshallhonorofand on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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Top Comments
  • 10 Hide
    digiex , October 31, 2013 10:52 AM
    I'll buy a gaming PC instead, I won't be tied to these can't do nonsense.
Other Comments
  • -4 Hide
    de5_Roy , October 31, 2013 10:29 AM
    can it run crysis 3? hurr...
  • 0 Hide
    Dax corrin , October 31, 2013 10:30 AM
    I won one from Taco Bell, should arrive right around launch day... but I want to know about backward compatibility... can Little Big Planet for PS3 run on it??? I've asked the question on their Facebook page both for PS4 and Little Big Planet...no answer.
  • Display all 38 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    theclash150 , October 31, 2013 10:38 AM
    @Dax

    There is no backwards compatibility. The PS4 employs Intel's x86 architecture as opposed to Sony's in house Cell architecture used in the PS3. The only way this could possibly be accomplished is if a future update brings software emulation to the PS4 which seems unlikely at this point in time.
  • 0 Hide
    Dax corrin , October 31, 2013 10:39 AM
    Hopefully, LBP will patch for PS4, or there will be a new version.. my daughter played it at a friend's house and loved it.. we don't have a PS3.
  • 1 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , October 31, 2013 10:41 AM
    why would someone still be playing a ps3 or xbox 360 let alone a ps4 or xbox one on a SDTV still? hdtv's that comes with at least 2 hdmi ports are soo cheap now there really isn't any reason to be playing current and next gen consoles on an SDTV. I tried giving away my old 32 inch SDTV last year, I put it on craigs list I put it in front of my hard with a big sticker saying it works don't need it anymore and no one wanted it. lol So I ended up giving it to goodwill.
  • -2 Hide
    clonazepam , October 31, 2013 10:42 AM
    I was hoping for a list of effects you may or may not see
  • 0 Hide
    clonazepam , October 31, 2013 10:45 AM
    A lot of televisions have a "game mode" to help with input lag. I believe these are usually tied to a single, specific input, and dvi at that. Anyone in that situation would want to purchase their own hdmi -> dvi cable.
  • -3 Hide
    gggplaya , October 31, 2013 10:49 AM
    If you've got $400 to drop on a gaming console, you better not be playing on a SDTV. That's just rediculous, upgrade your tv first, they are like $200 now for a decent 26".
  • 10 Hide
    digiex , October 31, 2013 10:52 AM
    I'll buy a gaming PC instead, I won't be tied to these can't do nonsense.
  • -4 Hide
    Lord Captivus , October 31, 2013 10:55 AM
    "Certain games, like "Killzone: Shadow Fall," will let you start playing before the installation is complete."
    What?? Who cares!! Save 5 minutes baby!!!
  • 5 Hide
    clonazepam , October 31, 2013 10:58 AM
    I liked streaming to my xbox 360, but only when i wanted to watch stuff on that particular television. I also liked copying media to a thumb drive and walking it over there. It still left a lot to be desired though with its limited support of media types.

    I wouldn't want to go without some of these "cannot do's". Seems ridiculous to me. My Android phone can access my NAS and play all kinds of media files through a free app while I sit on the crapper. A $400 video game console should have comparable features lol, especially in almost 2014.
  • -4 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , October 31, 2013 10:58 AM
    I really didn't expect the ps4 or xbox one to handle native 4k resolution. I mean that's just asking way too much for a 400 dollar console, heck on the pc side you need at least 2 Geforce Titans to play at 4k decently and 3 GeForce titans for highend settings. As for no streaming music I could really care less I don't listen to music on my console anyhow. Well at least some gaming titles will be free to play online. As for paying for a playstation plus subscription to play all the multiplayer online games, I don't mind it if it's going to be on par with xbox live service. And you do get 2 free game downloads a month, plus it's still 10 dollars cheaper then xbox live per year. I do love the fact that you don't have to wait for an entire game or demo to download before you start playing it. So the bads are not really a big deal.
  • 3 Hide
    jimmysmitty , October 31, 2013 11:09 AM
    Quote:
    @Dax

    There is no backwards compatibility. The PS4 employs Intel's x86 architecture as opposed to Sony's in house Cell architecture used in the PS3. The only way this could possibly be accomplished is if a future update brings software emulation to the PS4 which seems unlikely at this point in time.


    Lets correct this, Cell is not Sony's in hour arch. It is based on IBMs PowerPC arch just like the 360s CPU.

    And you are correct. No backwards compatibility and there is not enough power in the PS4 to emulate the Cell and RSX hardware.

    So if you have a PS3 and want to play the PS3 titles don't get rid of it.
  • 2 Hide
    FloKid , October 31, 2013 11:22 AM
    Why did they remove mp3 support? I don't use it much but sometimes it's fun plus couldn't you get some off the online store? So no thumb drives either? Why not include the features of the old gen? Sony is being weird.
  • 1 Hide
    jhansonxi , October 31, 2013 11:26 AM
    I suspect the music and streaming limitations are due to licensing, patents, or concers about exploits. Still annoying.
  • -2 Hide
    Balderick1974 , October 31, 2013 11:27 AM
    I'm getting mine to play games, as I'm fortunate to have an HTPC in each room, and now with Raspberry Pie's being affordable, people can use this to stream, etc. As just stick XBMC on and sorted. PS5 will prob play 4k or higher games, and by then the TV's will be affordable for everyone instead of high prices 4K TV's offer. The human eye can't really tell much difference unless you sit really close to you tv and notice more pixels from the sofa most people won't notice much difference from 1080P.
  • 2 Hide
    meltbox360 , October 31, 2013 11:43 AM
    The consoles use Intel's x86 instruction set and AMD's AMD64 instruction set. Thought AMD deserved a mention in here.
  • -3 Hide
    Dax corrin , October 31, 2013 11:52 AM
    Hopefully, LBP will patch for PS4, or there will be a new version.. my daughter played it at a friend's house and loved it.. we don't have a PS3.
  • 8 Hide
    chronicbint , October 31, 2013 11:59 AM
    I was hoping the PS4 could be a reasonable media centre. Seems like its turning into a fail.
  • 0 Hide
    jl0329 , October 31, 2013 12:00 PM
    No media server?... How much does it cost to add that feature? Not that I care since I have Roku3, but I just don't understand why they removed that feature. Isn't their Slogan - "It only does everything"?
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