For months, Sony has been coy about its updated PlayStation 4, acknowledging its existence but refusing to give any solid details. Today, the wraps finally came off, and the console-formerly-known-as-Neo is officially the PS4 Pro. Along with a slimmed-down version of the basic console, Sony confirmed the rampant rumors by announcing the Pro is powered by an improved CPU and GPU, features support for 4K, HDR and higher frame rates, and will be out sooner than expected.
Releasing slimmer, less expensive versions of a console is standard practice at around this point in their life cycle, so it comes as no surprise that the PS4 Slim will soon be joining Microsoft's recently-released Xbox One S. According to Sony, this model is 30 percent quieter, 16 percent lighter and 28 percent more energy efficient than the current one, and is cheaper at US$299. A couple of small ergonomic tweaks have been made to the controller as well, and there's now a small light bar in the central trackpad.
Bucking the usual downsizing trend, the PS4 Pro is slightly bigger than the original PS4, measuring 295 x 327 x 55 mm (11.61 x 12.87 x 2.17 in) to the original PS4's (275.1 x 305.1 x 53.1 mm (10.83 x 12.01 x 2.09 in) and the PS4 Slim's 265 x 288 x 39 mm (10.43 x 11.34 x 1.54 in). As the rumors speculated, the new machine upgrades the visuals to 4K resolution and offers High Dynamic Range (HDR), while more powerful CPU and GPU take care of the associated increase in processing power required.
Existing games, like Uncharted 4, will be updated digitally to take advantage of the new specs, while upcoming releases like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Mass Effect: Andromeda and Days Gone will be compatible from day one. Streaming services like Netflix and YouTube are expected to release new 4K-supported versions of their apps too, so the console brings with it a solid library of content to help justify an expensive 4K TV purchase.
Knowing how dangerous it can be to fracture a userbase, Sony's made it clear that there won't be any gameplay features unique to the Pro: besides the visual upgrades, every game will play the same on any version of the console, whether the new Slim, the Pro or any PS4 bought in the last three years.
Interestingly, though, Sony also announced that every PS4 system will receive HDR functionality via a future firmware update, which essentially leaves 4K as the sole exclusive feature of the Pro. Whether that's enough to justify the price of admission – US$399 – will probably come down to whether or not you already have a PS4 and/or a HDR-capable 4K TV.
The slimmer PS4 will be in stores September 15, with the Pro following on November 10. That gives them a headstart of about a year on Microsoft's Scorpio, a hardware upgrade to the Xbox One that's reported to also include an upgraded GPU and 4K functionality.