PS4 vs Xbox One

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Well E3 has been and gone now, and after the start of the year including the announcements of 2 next-gen consoles to be released simultaneously near the festive end of the year. What does this all mean for the average consumer?

Apart from the obvious, which is enhanced graphics, reworked user interfaces/controllers and more powerful technology, there really isn’t much between the two systems when you look at the main systems (CPU + GPU) specs on paper.

xbox-one-ps4-specs-detail-chart

The only main differences being for consumers is the type of memory used. Microsoft preferring to use DDR3 RAM as opposed to GDDR5 RAM used by Sony. This just means as shown above that system memory bandwidth is increased with the use of GDDR RAM in the system, as well as a more advanced GPU for utilising it all. Also with both systems being x86 CPU based means shorter development schedules for either console, and bridging the gap between the graphical differences between PC and console. It could also bring us closer to the point on multi-format online gameplay in the long term i.e. PC, PS and Xbox players all playing together online, then again it could be a dream that never becomes reality!

Both systems pack a punch for becoming an all-in-one entertainment system for the home. Especially with Microsoft incorporating a 3-in-1 interface (Xbox system for gaming, Windows system for apps, social media & networks, etc, and the final system to seamlessly join both with ease, with the advanced Kinect 2.0 system for voice and hand gesture controls, meaning it has to be connected for the system to work at all), the system does look great from footage so far showing the transitions from game to film to app being fluid. But the Xbox Dashboard looks like just an updated version of what’s currently available on the Xbox 360. Also the Kinect 2.0 peripheral that’s bundle with the Xbox One looks to a vast improvement on the original device, with multi device controls being built into this one. Want your TV on and Xbox on, just say ‘Xbox on’, and it’ll switch your tv on, amp for your speakers on as well whilst it boots itself up. More of a reason to become a couch potato then!

Microsoft’s plans don’t just stop there though, with the inclusion Smartglass tech being bundled into the console as well, it wants you to work with everything that’s technology in your house, I have my doubts about the technology as it’s becoming more like George Orwell’s 1984 albeit Kinect is watching you instead of the infamous Big Brother. This could lead to some mishaps with the likes of Skype, etc to be caught doing something you shouldn’t with the system preffering to be connected 24/7 even when powered off. The only benefit of that being game patches, videos can all be downloaded in the background whilst you watch/play. But Microsoft want you to focus on your TV with it now become a TV planner/recorder for live TV personalised to your viewing as opposed to streaming as seen on current gen platforms. Ideal since it does indeed look like vcr/dv-recorder.

Xbox_Consle_Sensr_controllr_F_TransBG_RGB_2013

Sony have gone for a more social network procedure than before with the PS3, with the Dual Shock 4’s Share button becoming the social side of the system, with your PSN friends list being conprised of your real world friends, that can watch as you stream your live gaming for all to see, take and share your pictures and video and even jump in real time as well for co-operative action or take over completely if your stuck on a game and utilising the latest gen of smartphones/tablets for real time chat system as well as usingthe updated PS Eye camera! Again the PS4 is connected 24/7 allowing background downloading of games/patches/video to occur as well whilst you play.

The redeveloped XMB (Cross Media Browser) looks better than the PS3’s, but not a lot of info has been said of what the final version will look and work like. Again this system and services are said to be personalised to you and your content. Streaming services for films & TV will be included again on the system, but slightly more advanced than what we currently have on offer on the PS3. Sony isn’t offering the PS Eye bundled with the PS4 on release either, meaning if you want it you’ll need to buy it for roughly £45. Whether or not the Dual Shock 4 will work as a PS Move style controller isn’t clear cut, but given the details released so far it’s safe to assume that it will.

ps4-bigpic

Both systems seem to be focused on cloud technology to be used, whether for uploading/downloading games and saved games, game patches, video footage, pictures, etc. Sony have a trump card up their sleeve for this, with the inclusion of the Gaikai technology for creating the fastest gaming network possible for it’s users. The cloud won’t be launched in time for release dates, but will be rolled out as of 2014, meaning your automatic download of games & video whilst you play or watch won’t be happening immediately until after the New Year. Gaikai are hoping to use this system for allowing the entire Playstation back catalogue to be accessed through the cloud, which may mean PS1 & PS2 titles to begin with, but PS3 games will make it onto the system eventually. Something that Microsoft haven’t stated is if their cloud technology will eventually offer the same, at the moment it looks like if you want to play Xbox & Xbox 360 games, use your Xbox 360 seems to be the comment for now. Despite neither offering backwards compatability with it’s predecessors, the Gaikai technology looks to be the best offer for that to happen in time, sadly it’ll be exclusive to Sony as they bought the company last year. Microsoft’s answer was to use your Xbox 360, shame as they are missing out what their current gamers would like, and alienating new gamers who may have not experienced some of the Xbox back catalogue.

Both are pay-to-play for immersing yourself into online multiplayer, which to be fair isn’t that much of a hassle. Both company’s have stated that if you currently subscribe to their services (Playstation Plus & Xbox Live Gold), that it’ll carry over to the new system. Good news if you have the PS Plus service as you should have access to their Instant Game Collection, which is an ever revolving line up of best selling to retro game titles that are yours to own for free as long as you maintain the susbscription. PS Plus has been running for over 2 years now and the back catalogue of games is vast as well as exclusive access to game Beta trials for upcoming titles, something that Microsoft has only announced now, by offering 2 free games a month to current subscribers, that are yours to keep forever. Both roughly cost the same, but in my opinion is PS Plus offers the better value for money, as it’s too little too late for Microsoft to start offering a similar service.

Now we get to Microsoft’s big blunder in the eyes of gamers everywhere, theoriginal announcement that to play games the system would have to login into your Xbox Live profile once every 24 hours, and the used game market restrictions (basically the game was only usable on your system and no-one else’s system and specific Xbox One used game retailers). Sony have used that time at E3 to announce no such restrictions will be put in place on the PS4 meaning you can play games all the time without having to log in online, and allowed to sell your games to anyone, trade them in for the newest titles or keep them forever. As well as posting up a video showcasing this point across during E3 as a sly dig. Over a week later and Microsoft have put up an announcement stating that the previous restrictions that had been announced had now been scrapped due to Sony’s announcements. This can be found here

The last thing to cover is the support of 4K resolutions (IMAX resolution), both systems have announced support of this but whether or not games will be designed with 4K in mind, as no physical disc based technology at current can store the amount of storage needed for this (roughly 200-300gb estimate for now), is still to be confirmed. However the technology is still very early stages, with supported TV sets costing roughly around the £20K mark for in the home. It’s still a long way off gaming wise, but still something to think about for the future. 4K will be supported on video for now with downloads estimated to be around 100gb for these files and is the only 4K support Sony has announced to date. Sony and LG are the two companys trying to develop the technology for the home, so it might be a possibility for a future firmware update to allow 4K support for games on the PS4, like we saw on PS3 for 3D Blu-Ray support a couple of years ago. Microsoft have announced they will support 4K on games from the word go with the Xbox One, my thoughts are that once the technology is more affordable for the home, only then will we see the benefits of greater resolution textures on your screen. For now though 1080p seems to the peak of technology for gaming.

Thanks for reading, I hope this clears up the tech speak behind both consoles and informs your judgement as to which console you choose. I know which console I’ll be purchasing, until then just keep on gaming folks, as you’re the important ones that will benefit from the better experiences these consoles will make!

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Reality TV

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Now it’s the second month of the year, but already we’ve been hit with the bombshells that are reality television again. New series of Desperate Scousewives, TOWIE, Geordie Shore, Celebrity Big Brother, and the rest, are already airing on the channels as you read this. But really what is the point of these programmes?

I know they’re ratings fueled, the number of comments I see from friends on my own facebook profile about these is enough to propel anyone into insanity, not just myself. But that alone shouldn’t give these programmes a right to exist. The fact Channel 4 has dumped Big Brother from it’s a/v signals is enough to see that these programmes have had their day.

Don’t get me wrong I’ll admit I watched the first few series of Big Brother in my youth, and occassionally watch the auditions for X Factor (just to laugh at the ones who lack any talent at all), despite knowing that behind the scenes it’s a farce, and just the producers putting through what they know will be good television, common broadcasting protocol to guarantee viewers I guess.

The fact there’s 2 or 3 auditions for that before even getting in front of the camera is a joke, and people wonder why those that audition freak out when told no and become angry. It’s misleading as those that lack the talent shouldn’t be in there in the first place. That’s SyCo Productions for you though, ratings or nothing else, as well as a prime example of a waste of a recording contract and album. Plus where are many of the winners of talent shows like that these days? Back in their old job? Or trying to resurrect the failed careers they thought they’d have?

It’s a shame it’s like that, but because they have no underlying talent to write songs and music to maintain a lasting career in the music industry. They’re usually lucky if they last a year! I’d like to see a programme to see where the previous winners of shows like these have disappeared to, and I’d be surprised if they’ve managed to maintain a career within the industry. I know I sound quite arrogant but I’m only saying and asking what many other people are thinking.

The likes of the Geordie Shore, etc though, I have one question to ask about those, and that’s why? Why the need to display someone’s life or lives to millions of viewers? Are we really turning into the voyeuristic audience that they think we are? If that is indeed the case then I sadly think we’re becoming more and more sadistic as the people that created these programmes in the first place. I don’t particularly want to know what the lives of these so called ‘interesting people’, and have it inflicted upon me from all angles, such as facebook, the news and the papers.

Is there something wrong with living your own life, and enjoying your own life, without having to gossip about these so called ‘celebrities’? Don’t get me wrong not all reality television is like this. There are many shows that I like such as Classic Albums, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, and a couple of others. I rate these much more as they show cultures and backgrounds that I’m not familiar with. Rather than showing ‘cultures’ that you and I are already familiar with.

Look around the next time you’re out and about, and you’ll see what I mean, there are already examples of these people who are obviously influenced by these so called ‘reality tv’ shows, and try to live their lives the same as those on the programme. But I guess that’s just the given nature of todays mainstream society sadly. Hopefully the world will change for the better good, and we’ll become less voyeuristic as George Orwell predicted in ‘1984’.

Happiness??

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

What is happiness? Is it the elation of collective feelings, that culminate in eternal pleasure? For most that may be the feeling, for myself however. Happiness is just being me I think, nothing can change that, and no one will change me either. I don’t really have anything that I can compare it with in life. I just have a list of people whom I hold closely to me. I may not be in contact the vast majority of the time, but I never forget who they are, more importantly!

 

Not being an optimist here or that, but looking back over the last year, things haven’t really gone in my favour as per usual. Again still single, whilst the majority remainder of my close friends are settling down, married and/or with kids. At 27, being single is a bit of a pain, I should be out most weekends socialising with others and meeting new people. But I don’t enjoy that, because 1) I actually don’t like where I am in life at current and 2) I’m not the most sociable person with others at the best of times unless a bit of dutch courage is involved. The vast majority of the damage being down to my lack of an ability to understand women these days and having a few relationships in the past where I was cheated on. So it’s more of a confidence thing as I look at it more and more. This is continued further with my employment.

 

I’m currently in a low end menial job that just pays the bills and no more, struggling to find new work through this economic crisis. However I think that 300,000+ other people are very much in the same boat these days as well, so it puts the mind at ease slightly that a majority are all in the same boat. Financial constraints that are gradually getting worse, is another cause for me to be annoyed with this country, prices of things keeping going up despite trying to get 2 cars running on the road, trying to get a successful djing career/club night on the go (this one probably won’t happen, but it’s nice to dream), and a successful career elsewhere somehow.

 

The vast majority of the time I will admit, I’m jealous of my friends and their lives that they lead. The happiness they seek, is there in front of them, already achieved to a certain extent or in the pipeline of being achieved. I’ve attended two weddings this year and enjoyed them both, but I can’t help but feel down about it as well, with a few more to come in the near future. It’s nice catching up with everyone in one place and at one point in time, before you’d struggle to get many of us in the same place at the same time (those who remember the car park from many years ago, that’s exempt from this rule). But it makes me feel alone as usually it’s everyone with their partners/wives/recent conquest/girlfriend, and it’s like partially losing a friend at the same time as well as gaining a new one, as they have new responsibilities to focus on in their new life.

 

However it’s their happiness that makes these things happen, and perhaps my observations and thoughts on the matter are purely of someone with inferiority complexes, as well as a lack of major self confidence in himself. My friends and colleagues happiness means more to me, than my own. Hard to believe but it’s true that I put others before myself for many, many years. That may be down to being an observational type of person when it comes to life, with that slight feeling that despite being slightly detached from life and most emotions. A simple emotion like happiness has a big impact on those involved.

 

Happiness, is it a gift that I lack? Or is it something to which I may never find in life just yet? Either way it’s something I currently don’t have, and also don’t seek at present. There was one moment a few years ago, that yes I could probably say I could have been happy, but alas it was never to be. That person knows who they are, I’ll leave it at that. I’m not here to discuss the huge list of failings in my life but more to explain my observations and take on the world that we live in. Despite it’s screwed up outcome so far, looking back properly there wouldn’t be much I’d change bar the main obvious ones. I appreciate the people I’ve met and become friends with over the years and the extended friends that have come from that as well. You folks mean a lot to me, and I hope the feeling’s mutual!