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FEATURE: PlayStation 4 Impressions

Fresh from the midnight launch, the PS4 is connected and working and it’s time for first impressions.

For starters, the new interface is cleaner, but very different from the original PS3/PSP XMB. Instead of having one horizontal bar with icons for all your different things, there are now two horizontal bars. Initially it was a little difficult to figure out where to go to do things like, oh, the necessary firmware update. Selecting networked items like Web Browser simply brought up an error indicating that you needed to update your firmware before you could access network features.

Finding the section that would actually launch the update didn’t take long and the update itself loaded much faster than any of the PS3 firmware updates I’ve seen, despite the fact that everyone who bought a PS4 was doing the same thing. Good infrastructure move there, guys.

Other first thoughts:

Controller touchpad: I’d love to tell you how this works, but I haven’t seen it used in a game yet. Although I bought the console at a midnight launch, the games themselves didn’t arrive until noon today so I haven’t had a chance to actually play them yet. I can say the #1 place I expected the touchpad to work – in the web browser – it was completely non responsive. It doesn’t look like Sony enabled support for it in the browser.

Remote Play: I didn’t have my hopes up given the poor performance of Remote Play on the PS3/PSP/Vita combinations. It turns out the PS4 is no different. On the same network, with the PS4 in the living room and the Vita in the bedroom, games are completely unplayable. In fact, I wasn’t able to stay connected long enough to actually launch a game. After a few seconds the screen pixels out and the connection is dropped. I may need to adjust my router, research to come.

Digital Content: Not having any games at launch I had to do something and I downloaded Netflix, Hulu Plus along with free to play games DC Universe Online and Warframe. Getting the digital content takes forever. Netflix and Hulu Plus were easy, the games had multi-gig downloads followed by even larger installers. Downloading both and installing both took the better part of 4 hours. Speedtest.net rates my connection speed at 14.52Mbs so your mileage may vary. Attempting to launch Warframe initiated another update which reached 9% before crashing the PS4. The system was completely non responsive to controller input and I had to hard reset the device with the power button on the front.

Controller: It’s awesome. Best Playstation controller released yet and I’ve had all of them since the original rumble-less, dual-stickless controller in 1995. The top is beveled slightly so you never see the glow from the light on the front.

Problems: Much has been made of the problems with bad HDMI ports, bad hard drives from Taco Bell and Netflix downloads causing crashes. I didn’t experience any of that. The HDMI port looked clean and I was able to connect without an issue. The system initialized just as I’d expect. The only problems I had were the painfully slow download and installation of the free to play games and the crashing of Warframe. That doesn’t get into the Remote Play issue. I don’t know if that’s a legitimate problem yet or not. I need to do more testing and research. My guess is, as usual, Remote Play just sucks, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has previously attempted to use Remote Play.

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