Checkpoint: Console Hardware Revision Edition

Sony are working on a PlayStation 4.5 according to Scoops. It will be a more powerful PlayStation 4 equipped with an upgraded GPU to handle 4K gaming.

Do I believe the rumors? Yes. I do not doubt Patrick Klepek’s reporting. But there’s a lot to unpack with this idea of a more powerful “mid-cycle” revision.

Improved GPU

How much of an improvement are we looking at with this hardware revision? 4K gaming is such an ambiguous term because very simple games can be rendered with the current PlayStation 4’s GPU. Are Sony aiming to render games like The Order 1886 in 4K? Or perhaps they’re simply including a hardware scaler that will upscale 1080p to 4K?

The PlayStation VR would be able to take advantage of more GPU power but what would that mean for PlayStation 4 owners who will be purchasing the VR headset this fall? Surely Sony don’t intend to divide a niche segment of their audience even further.

Gradual Obsolesce

I have no problems with introducing a more powerful hardware after 3 – 4 years. The PlayStation 4 is approaching its 3rd birthday later this year, and the Netbook class CPU and 2013 mid-range GPU will be exposed even further as newer and cheaper PC parts make their debut.

The worry for many people is that current PlayStation 4 owners will be left behind if developers target the new hardware. But will that make sense from a developer or publisher perspective? Are the most successful iOS developers only targeting the latest and greatest hardware? Of course not and that’s what I believe will happen if the console manufacturers turn to a more iterative pace with hardware.

I see the API maintaining backwards compatibility like iOS but eventually developers and Sony will choose not to support older revisions. I can see Sony maintaining support for two revisions at a time.

  1. PlayStation 4 (2013)
  2. PlayStation 4 (2017)
  3. PlayStation 4 (2021)
  4. PlayStation 4 (2025)

1 & 2 will be supported, then 2 & 3, then 3 & 4 and so on.

How would developers take advantage of new hardware? If the PlayStation 4 (2013) runs games at medium equivalent PC settings, I can see the PlayStation 4 (2017) running games on high equivalent settings. It’ll involve more testing and resources on the developers perspective but they have the option to make better looking games.

Why would developers do this though? Why would they invest resources on something extraneous? They don’t have to. If they wanted to target PlayStation 4 (2013) and optimize for that, they will have the widest possible audience available to them. But that will be the case for games launching near the second PlayStation 4 revision. Sony will stop selling PlayStation 4 (2013) and eventually PlayStation 4 (2017) will grow to a sizeable share and may even become the dominant segment of the market share. At that point, developers may want to push boundaries and move onto supporting the newer revision.

$399.99 Forever?

I have no problems buying a new hardware revision every 4 years for $399.99 USD. You don’t need to buy the new revision on day one, in fact I can see PlayStation 4 (2017) receive a price drop in 2019 like the PlayStation 4 did in 2015. But this will allow Sony to keep a higher priced game console forever. They can offer the older revisions for $299.99 but they need to make it clear that it may have a shorter life span ahead.

Interesting Times Ahead

This may end up being nothing more than a thought experiment by the hardware manufacturers but even if it amounts to nothing, I am glad they are considering this possible route. It’s been an interesting idea to dissect.

The Division. Fire Emblem. The Division. Fire Emblem. Repeat. I’m almost done with the latter and making progress with the former. I’ve been doing the side missions as they appear and not burning through the main content so as not to create an imbalance of boring content in the end.


Windows 9 may feature virtual desktops

posted in: Technology News 0

If rumors are to be believed Microsoft will finally join the likes of Linux and Mac OS X and include virtual desktops in the next version of Windows.

I’ve never used virtual desktops on my desktop PC but for my Macbook Air? I absolutely love it. The key to me accepting the virtual desktop feature on the Mac OS X is the four finger swipe gesture. Without that quick ability to swap between desktops, I would never use it. Microsoft needs a very easy-to-use touch gestures for this feature to take off.

The next Windows, codenamed Threshold, sounds like a significant undertaking. They’re going to rebuild it from the ground up for multiple platforms and there are rumors that the Start Menu that we knew from Windows past will make a return.

What I want in a 12″ Macbook Air Retina

posted in: Technology News 0

apple-logo.pngRumors of the 12″ Macbook Air Retina are flaring up again. Rumors have the new Macbooks landing in late Q3 or early Q4 of 2014 but with delays to Intel’s Broadwell chips, it could end materializing in 2015.

Let’s forget about launch dates and focus what I want out of the upcoming 12″ Macbook Air with Retina Display.

Performance expectations

I want the laptop to be able to render the high density display without any hiccups. Gaming performance isn’t important but video playback and desktop performance must not falter.

Battery Life expectations

I would love to see double digit battery life. 10+ hours with a light workload would be incredible. My iPad is my favorite browser and media consumption device because of the fantastic battery life.

Pricing expectations

I don’t expect this to be as cheap as the 11″ Macbook Air at $1199. I expect the upcoming 12″ Macbook Air to debut between $1299 and $1399 and include a 128GB SSD and at least 8GB of memory.

I think that’s a reasonable price range for Apple and I would consider picking it up through my brother’s education discount.

We’re not ready for an always online console

posted in: Game News 0

Rumors of an always online requirement for Microsoft’s next console began to swirl up again as Kotaku’s sources reaffirms the software giant’s plans. Whether or not this will actually come to pass is up for debate but after SimCity, the instability of Xbox Live! in the past and the unreliability of certain ISPs, this looks to be a bad idea from a PR standpoint.

Consumers are not ready for such a requirement. It only takes a handful of disruptions to cause a frenzy of bad press. From personal experience, I’ve lost power more times than I’ve lost internet but even in 2013, that’s not the case for everyone.

I understand the notion of “games as a service” but people are not comfortable spending $300 on hardware and $60 on each piece software only to have it rendered useless with the absence of an internet connection. I cannot think of any other form of entertainment that does that.

Netflix requires the internet to deliver content but that’s a small flat rate for access to a huge library of content. There’s no initial investment other than the hardware device you’re streaming with. And chances are you did not purchase that hardware for the sole purpose of Netflix.

Microsoft can do whatever they wish but if they wish to curry favor with consumers, they will drop and debunk this “always online” requirement as soon as they announce the next Xbox.

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