During Sony’s PlayStation Meeting last week, they announced a smaller, more energy efficient iteration of the PS4. Given that it had leaked a few weeks earlier, the “PS4 Slim”, as it had come to be known, was branded simply “The new PS4”. Starting today, the new design will start to replenish the stocks of the “old” model as they begin to dwindle. Sony sent one over for us to take a look at, and here are my thoughts.
First up, the design. It appears much smaller than it actually is once you start comparing it to the old PS4. The somewhat drastic reduction in height is surprising, and on first glance, appears to be tiny in comparison to the not-exactly-huge OG PS4. However, the width and depth of the new console aren’t all that different to its bigger brother, shaving off a couple of cm at the most. Overall, the design choices of more rounded corners and single top shell have grown on me considerably since that first picture surfaced online a few weeks back, and in person, it’s surprising how sleek and sophisticated it looks. It’s obvious that it’s from the same design family as the original PS4, as opposed to the radical departure of the PS3 slim and “super slim” models from the last generation. Across the front, there are still 2 USB ports, although the positioning of them is a little strange if you ask me. On the original PS4, they were somewhat close together, as you’d expect to find on a PC, yet on the PS4 Slim, they’ve got quite a degree of space between them, which is a little weird when you look at it from the front for the first time! On the back left hand side of the console is a relatively flimsy piece of plastic, which slides off and reveals everyone’s favourite “branded screw”, which, when undone, allows you to replace the internal hard drive of the console up to a capacity of 2TB. It’s certainly a much more simple piece of plastic to remove, and doesn’t feel like you’re going to break the console each time you take it off!
Moving around to the back of the console, and it’s the same Figure-8 power socket, HDMI port, Aux port (for the PS Camera) and Ethernet port that can be found on the original PS4, but conspicuous with its absence is the humble optical audio out port. Yep, if you’ve got a surround system or a headset that’s powered by an optical cable and want to pick up a PS4, you best either snap one up before the original models go out of stock or hold out for a PS4 Pro, as the new model simply doesn’t have it. This is purely to cut costs, I’m sure, but it’s a strange decision to make, as I can’t imagine it costing a huge amount. Still, given a straw poll of a bunch of my friends and colleagues, it’s a fringe case, so can’t see it causing too much of an issue in the mainstream.
Plugging it in and booting it up gives you a transcendent new experience, pulling you out of the living room and into… Ah, who am I kidding? It’s a PS4. If you’ve used one, you’ve seen pretty much what this one can do. There is no discernible performance increase that I managed to garner from playing multiple titles on it, but this isn’t being pitched as that. The improvements come from a technical standpoint, where a reduced power demand is the headline feature (This thing uses substantially less electricity than the original one does), and is supported by the inclusion of support for the 5GHz wifi band. My testing on this proved to be pretty impressive, with the wireless speeds holding up pretty consistently and maintaining a solid connection from the moment I started playing to the moment I put it to sleep. Range isn’t something I can really test where I am (Sadly NGB towers is a metaphorical mansion rather than a physical one!) yet I never had any issues connecting in my house.
The other big change in the box is the new DualShock 4 controller. Essentially the same design, the major differences with this new controller are the material that the buttons are made of, which feel a bit more rubbery and “Grippy” than before, and also the touchpad, which now has a translucent bar toward the top, allowing for the light bar (which has, for so long, been impossible to see during gameplay) to shine through and allow players to easily discern which team they’ve taken in PES, or just how much health they’ve got left in their favourite shooter. It’s a subtle touch that doesn’t distract at all, and whilst it’s probably not worth rushing out to buy a new controller exclusively for, it’s a neat feature to have if and when the time comes in future.
So there we have it. The “New PS4”, or the PS4 Slim. Whatever you want to call it, it’ll set you back £259 for the 500GB model, and £309 for the 1TB model. If you’ve already got a PS4, it’s probably not worth the upgrade unless you’re desperate for space and/or need something that consumes a bit less energy, especially with the PS4 Pro due in November. But, if you’re in the market for a relatively cheap new console and don’t mind the lack of optical audio, you’re not going to go far wrong by picking up the new PS4.