8 tips to get more from your PS4
With no sign of PlayStation 5 in sight, and the PlayStation 4 going from strength to strength, here are eight tips to help you get more from your machine, starting with quick and easy wins moving along to more advanced enhancements. These tips work whether you're using a standard or Pro console. Let's roll those sleeves up and brave those settings menus…
1. Dim your Dualshock 4 light bar
If you'd like to extend your controller battery life, simply go to Settings > Devices > Controllers.
From here you can decrease the volume of the controller's speaker, set its light bar to dim and even disable vibration. If you find the light bar at all intrusive when set to bright, dimming it for extra play time is a no-brainer.
2. Disable annoying notifications
A pop-up to say that your new Fortnite pal xxLlamaFun846xx is online might be useful when you first fire up your console, but if you're settling into a Netflix binge these notices quickly become annoying.
Thankfully you can put an end to these from Settings > Notifications. There's a specific option to disable pop-ups when playing video, and if you select Pop-Up Notifications you can tailor exactly which notifications you see at other times.
3. Enable device link to turn on your TV automatically
You can set your TV to turn on and switch to your PS4 input automatically when you fire up your PS4 by going to Settings > System and checking Enable HDMI Device Link. You'll also need to make sure that HDMI-CEC is enabled on your TV.
Annoyingly, different manufacturers have different names for this. LG calls it SimpLink, Samsung Anynet+ and Sony Bravia Sync. Once enabled, the setting will also turn on your PS4 if you switch to the PS4 input on your TV.
4. Get the PlayStation app to message friends more easily
Entering text via the DualShock 4 is a pain, so it's a good thing that Sony allows text input via the official PlayStation app for iOS and Android. Simply sign in to the app on a mobile device on the same network as your PS4 and you can use the app as an alternative keyboard to type messages or search your library. Much easier.
5. Turn off your TV's motion smoothing
Many modern TVs feature motion smoothing, an image-processing technique designed to smooth content filmed at lower refresh rates than current TVs are capable of. Alas, the feature has a tendency to make films look like soap operas (which tend to be shot at 60 Hz), so you'll definitely want to turn it off for watching movies.
But the mode is also a killer when it comes to input lag – the delay between pressing a button on your PS4 controller and the result appearing on screen can more than double with this mode enabled.
Again, the manufacturers have their own vexing names for motion smoothing. LG goes with TruMotion, Samsung Auto Motion Plus and Sony MotionFlow. You get the idea – the names tend to be variations on that theme and should be easy to find in your TV settings menu to disable.
6. Turn on your TV's game mode
If your TV has a gaming mode, it's well worth a try. For one it will probably disable motion smoothing so you don't need to worry about it, as well as disabling other image processing techniques which would otherwise increase input lag.
It may make other enhancements that improve the visuals of games, for example by making colors more vibrant. But equally, game modes may compromise other aspects of the image quality, so it's something to experiment with. If you don't like the results, disabling motion smoothing separately and using one of your TV's other display modes may work better for you.
7. Upgrade your storage
If you like to store as many as your games locally as you can rather than re-downloading titles as you play them, you may find your PlayStation 4 is short on space, particularly if its an older model. It's possible to upgrade the hard drive of any PS4 with a 2.5-inch laptop drive. If you're willing to fork out for a solid-state drive you should find load times come down, if only marginally, but by far the best (and cost-effective) reason to upgrade is to increase your storage. Just make sure you research the make and model of your drive to make sure you're picking a good one. Do note that external USB storage is also an option.
8. Get an elite controller
For those who play games competitively online, it may be worth considering a controller upgrade for an extra edge. While it's probably fair to say that most third-party controllers compare badly to the official Dualshock 4, there are some premium exceptions with price tags to match.
Depending on the model you choose you'll be able to swap out the thumb-sticks, program their sensitivity and dead zones using a companion PC app, as well as game-specific actions for additional buttons and triggers. See the latest controllers from the likes of Nacon, Razer (its Raiju controller is pictured above) and Scuf to learn more.