Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and The Connected Home
5/21/2013 by: Anshel Sag
With the release of both of the next generation consoles, we begin to see that the media world is converging into a connected world. A world where everything we consume is somehow intelligently connected to the internet. Both the Sony PS4 and the Microsoft Xbox One will feature wired and wireless connectivity, designed to enable an always-on immersive experience.
The PS4’s focus on gaming means that many users will find themselves utilizing the streaming functions of the PS4 and needing a router that enables the experience that they expect to have. In addition to the streaming of older games from Sony’s servers over Wi-Fi, some users may find themselves using the PS Vita to stream their PS4 games over their network (from their PS4) while away from the TV. This scenario is a perfect example of what wireless enables when it comes to truly wireless gaming.
The Microsoft Xbox One was also announced today. This console better demonstrates the evolution of media in the home with a variety of new features. Microsoft has decided to make the Xbox One a household’s entertainment center. They have done this by integrating television, video streaming, and gaming seamlessly into one simple and easy to use platform. The Xbox One combining all three of these different media platforms into one is a great example of a ‘connected home’. Users will be able to utilize their smartphones and tablets over Wi-Fi to connect to their Xbox One to further increase its functionality and usefulness as a media powerhouse.
The Xbox One’s own controller uses Wi-Fi Direct to connect to the console itself; meanwhile, the console will connect to the internet over Wi-Fi. Considering the fact that the Xbox One will be receiving streaming, gaming, and connected TV data, there is a good chance that many users will find themselves passing more data over their networks. Since most users will be connecting their Xbox One wirelessly, there is a good chance that many users will see a less-than-stellar experience as we explain in the following paragraph.
There is another concern; this one actually having to do with the consoles themselves. Both consoles are currently being billed as 802.11n solutions, without any clear word about dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) connectivity on the PS4. This means that many users in ‘noisy’ environments like apartment complexes or buildings may find themselves having to give up wireless for a wired solution. Some users may end up using a bridge solution, like I have had to do with some non-5GHz 802.11n solutions. This can be done using 802.11n or 802.11ac Bridge to pull down the wireless 5GHz connection into a wired connection on the back of the device. The lack of 802.11ac on these consoles is admittedly somewhat disappointing considering the amount of media that will be passing over the air to these devices, however we understand the long development cycle of these consoles and the need to keep costs down, which 802.11ac won’t do.
Looking at both consoles from an internal hardware perspective, it looks like we’ll be getting pretty similar internals for the CPU and GPU. What this will enable is for developers and gamers to get similar gaming experiences regardless of the console. Each console contains a custom AMD-based SoC paired with an AMD GCN-based GPU, which means most games will likely find themselves optimized for AMD GPUs. Additionally, both the PS4 and Xbox One will be more than capable of delivering a quality 1080P experience and even the ability to playback 4K content at 24 frames per second (videos and movies only). Internally, they both will likely have about 500GB of internal storage, however, it remains to be seen whether or not these will be traditional HDDs or SSHDs, the latter being a wiser choice. Sure, both consoles will feature USB 3.0 connectivity, but in reality, this isn’t really necessary or useful unless you plan to connect an external hard drive to the console to increase its capacity.
The truth is, this generation of consoles really missed their mark in truly being the devices of the future with hard drive-only gaming and all digital downloads. The fact that users will still have to buy physical discs may, ultimately, hurt these consoles’ longevity as an entertainment platform. Even though, if you ask me, I think that these will be the last ‘gaming consoles’ we see from Microsoft and Sony. The console is a dying breed and other devices are cropping up to replace them as the center of people’s connected lives.
There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered about these consoles, but there is no doubt that wireless technologies and constant connectivity are going to be critical components of both consoles. We will simply have to see later this year which device really delivers a true connected experience to consumers.
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