The PlayStation 4 comes in two varieties: the PS4 Slim and the PS4 Pro. While they both look like elegant high-tech hamburgers, they're actually pretty different.
The $299 PS4 Slim (which is now simply known as PS4) replaced the original model with a slightly shrunk-down design. The $399 PS4 Pro is a 4K entertainment machine that can play games and movies in ultra-high resolution.
Both consoles are approaching their fourth birthdays, as well as something of a rapidly oncoming obsolescence once the PS5 appears later this year. But if you want a PlayStation console right now, which one should you buy?
The PS4 Slim is the refreshed version of the standard PS4, with a design that Sony says is 30 percent smaller, 16 percent lighter and consumes 30 percent less power than the launch model. So unless you really need those few inches of extra space, folks who already own a PS4 have virtually no reason to buy the Slim.
At $299, however, the Slim is the cheapest barrier of entry for aspiring PS4 owners who want to play Ghost of Tsushima or Death Stranding. Also, the Pro won't do you much good if you don't have a good TV with 4K compatibility, so if you don't already own a 4K TV or don't have the budget to buy one, go with the Slim.
If you don't have a PS4 yet, own a 4K television and can afford to spend a little more, you should absolutely go for the PS4 Pro. For $100 more, you get a console capable of playing games and streaming movies in 4K resolution.
So should existing PS4 owners upgrade to the Pro? That's a tougher call. The ever-growing list of PS4 Pro enhanced games includes Red Dead Redemption 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Uncharted 4 and Destiny 2, so it all depends on what you play and how badly you want to see those games in shiny 4K. Naturally, due to its extra power, the PS4 Pro is notably chunkier than the PS4 Slim, which you may notice if you're trying to fit it under your TV or in a narrow cubbyhole.
PlayStation VR and HDR
Both the PS4 and PS4 Pro support High Dynamic Range for richer, brighter colors on supported TVs. So whether your screen of choice can use HDR or not, it won't make a difference to your buying decision.
One thing you won't have to factor in when choosing your PS4 is game selection. All current and upcoming PS4 games work on PS4, PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro — the only difference is they might look a little prettier on the Pro. That means that you'll get to play excellent exclusives like Spider-Man, God of War and Uncharted 4 as well as third-party blockbusters such as Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare no matter which console you choose.
What About the PS5?
If you're debating between the PS4 and PS4 Pro, perhaps you're also wondering whether you should wait for the PS5, which will be out later this year. The next-gen PlayStation will be more powerful, offer new features like its haptics-heavy DualSense controller and 3D audio and come with some new exclusive games. But it will be more expensive for sure, and it probably won't come into its own for another year or two yet, once developers have got to grips with making games for the system.
The PS4 Slim is better to buy right now because it's cheaper, leaving you more money for the PS5, whether you pick one up at launch or later down the line. However it's just as good an idea to wait until November, see how much the PS4 gets discounted or sold for second-hand, and then weigh up whether it's better to play older games now, or newer games later.
All in all, the PS4 Slim is a good budget buy, while the PS4 Pro is a wise choice for gamers with 4K televisions who want the very best experience available. That is, if you want a PlayStation right now. Waiting for the PS5 might be a good idea if you want to make more of an investment, albeit a more expensive one, in long-term gaming enjoyment.
You also shouldn't forget about Microsoft's offerings though. There's the $249 Xbox One S, which has a 4K Blu-ray player and offers HDR gaming, as well as the $499 Xbox One X, which offers even more 4K power than the PS4 Pro, although it does cost more. Then there's the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, the next-gen Xbox consoles. Like the PS5, they'll be more expensive than the currently available choices, but will have a longer life overall.