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PlayStation 4: A few more details come to light

Yesterday's reveal of the PlayStation 4, despite lasting a whopping two hours, left us with a heap of questions. What will the system look like? What will it cost? When is the release date? We don't have answers to those exact questions yet, but over the last day, several more important details have come to light.

About the controller

Sony released a little more information about the DualShock 4. It's just a touch larger and heavier than the DualShock 3, not enough to really make a big difference. If you like the size of the PS3's vibrating controller, you'll probably be happy with the DualShock 4. The 1000 mAh battery battery holds considerably more charge than that in the DualShock 3. The "Select" and "Start" buttons have been combined into one "Options" button, making way for the new "Share" button.

PS4 controller
Sony's new DualShock 4 controller

The controller's light bar can change color to match a game or on-screen character, making it easier for players to identify who they're controlling in a multiplayer environment. It's also used for tracking the controller's location via the new PlayStation Eye peripheral (similar to the glowing orbs on the end of the Move controller).

Interestingly, the controller has a little built-in mono speaker. Expect PS4 games to push some sound effects through the controller, as the Wii does.

The PS4 controller will charge using a standard micro-USB cable, like the PS3 controllers, and can even be charged while the system is in sleep mode.

Ars Technica did a little math on the officially released images and found the touchpad will be a little over 2 inches by 1 inch. That's pretty small, and given its location, I struggle to think of what it will be really useful for. As with sixaxis control in the PS3 controllers, I fear the touchpad will be a gimmick. Speaking of sixaxis control, it's said to be more sensitive in the new controller.

The new PlayStation Eye

Sony didn't have a lot to say about the new PlayStation Eye peripheral, though it did reveal a few technical details. It sports two video cameras and an array microphone, and should be better able to track the Move controllers and DualShock 4's locations. It can also be used for video chat, to log into the PS4 using facial recognition, and to track body movements.

PlayStation Eye
Sony's new two-camera PlayStation Eye isn't quite the same thing as Kinect.

Is this Sony's version of Kinect? Not really. Kinect uses a special infrared range-finding sensor to create a 3D map of the environment in front of it (rumor has it, the next Xbox will feature an improved Kinect sensor). While you can sort of fake 3D tracking with stereo cameras, the fidelity wouldn't be the same. Still, it sounds like a good improvement over the current PlayStation Eye, and it's a lot smaller than Kinect—small enough to clip to the top of your TV.

Size
Approx. 7.2 inches by 1 inch by 1 inch (width by height by depth)

Weight
Approx. 0.4 pounds

Video Resolution
1280 by 800 (x 2)

Video Frame Rate
1280 by 800 @ 60fps
640 by 400 @ 120fps
320 by192 @ 240fps

Lens
Dual lenses, F2.0 fixed focus

Field-of-View
85°

Microphone
4-channel microphone array

It comes with a headset

It's a minor point but one worth mentioning—the PlayStation 4 will come bundled with a headset, which will plug into the controller. Unfortunately, we don't yet know what it will look like. The PS3 never really included a headset (outside special bundles) and online communication suffered as a result. Part of the reason people are so chatty on Xbox Live may be because everyone is guaranteed to have everything they need to sling offensive, racist, sexist slurs online.

On second thought, maybe it's not a good idea for the PS4 to come with a headset.

Next: Specs, Third-party publishers, 4K resolution, and sleep mode

More detailed specs

At the premiere event, Sony gave vague details about the "supercharged PC" architecture used in the PS4. It released more detailed specs shortly after.

Main Processor
Single-chip custom processor
CPU: x86-64 AMD “Jaguar,” 8 cores
GPU: 1.84 TFLOPS, AMD next-generation Radeon-based graphics engine

Memory
GDDR5, 8GB

Hard Disk
Built-in (no size specified)

Optical Drive (read only)
BD 6xCAV
DVD 8xCAV

I/O
Super-Speed USB (USB 3.0), AUX

Communication
Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T)
IEEE 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 2.1 (EDR)

AV Output
HDMI
Analog-AV out
Digital output (optical)

Third-party publishers

Sony released a PDF of third party publishers who are officially supporting the PlayStation 4. Unsurprisingly, it's a who's who of popular game publishers. Note that this is a list of publishers, not developers. Valve games have traditionally come to consoles published by Electronic Arts, and many of the games from Epic Games are published by other companies, for example.

4K is supported, but not for games

If you're shelling out for a 4K TV, the PS4 will support it. Sort of.

Thinking of buying a 4K TV in the next few years? Polygon confirmed that the PS4 will support 4K resolution for personal content like photos, but games will not run at that crazy resolution. That's probably for the best, considering that pushing all those pixels will likely have a severe impact on frame rates. Who knows what future system software updates will bring.

Sleep mode

Much like a modern smartphone, the PS4 will be designed to go to sleep rather than turn off. In this very, very low-power mode, the system is in a suspended state, and can wake up in just a second or two. It will even suspend the game you're playing and let you resume right where you stopped, Sony says.

This is a drastic improvement over today's state of affairs—turning on the system, waiting for it to boot, starting the game, waiting for the title screen, loading your save... it can take 3 to 5 minutes to get back to the game you were playing yesterday. With PS4, as with tablets and smartphones, that can take 3 to 5 seconds. This is in part thanks to the low-power sleep states of the modern PC processors and graphics chips used in the PS4, and I suspect the next Xbox to have similar capabilities.

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