With Sony announcing a special PlayStation event in New York for 7 September, it is commonly thought that we’ll finally see the company’s plans for its next generation console – a massively upgraded version of the PS4, currently codenamed PlayStation Neo.
That’s hugely exciting for gamers, but does beg several questions, especially on the build up to the holiday season when people will have cash in their pockets and a hankering for a new games machine.
Prior to the possible PlayStation Neo announcement, we’d have said the Xbox One S was a no brainer, being a faster, slimmer version of the former model and a 4K Blu-ray player to boot. But now Sony is about to unveil its plans, it could really plop a big fat fly in the ointment.
That’s why we’ve decided to look at what we know about the PlayStation Neo so far through rumours, in comparison with the already available Xbox One S, to see if you should splurge your money now or wait a bit longer.
Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): 4K HDR gaming
One thing we know for sure about the PlayStation Neo is that it will be capable of 4K gaming. PlayStation boss Andrew House effectively said as much to the Financial Times on the eve of E3. That means it will have enough graphics and processing grunt to render games in 2160p, quite possibly at 60 frames per second too.
The Xbox One S on the other hand is not capable of 4K gaming. It does upscale all video output to 4K, including games, but you don’t get anymore detail – it just takes on the upscaling duties rather than rely on your TV’s abilities.
The Microsoft machine does offer HDR (high dynamic range) gaming though. Developers can now choose to offer a great level of contrast and depth in their games, for users with TVs capable of showing them. Forza Horizon 3 a Gears of War 4 are two games coming with HDR graphics.
We’d be willing to bet our collective houses that the PS Neo will have the same support.
Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
One of the main reasons existing Xbox One owners would consider an upgrade to the Xbox One S is that it also doubles as a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player. It is capable of playing the new format discs and in HDR to boot.
Considering Sony’s heritage in Blu-ray – being the founder of the format and that – it is nigh-on guaranteed the PlayStation Neo will have a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray drive too.
Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): 4K video
As well as 4K Blu-ray support, the Xbox One S is also 4K-ready for streaming services. At present, that just means Netflix in the UK, but we fully expect an updated YouTube app soon and, possibly, Amazon Video will offer 4K streams in future too.
There is absolutely no reason to think that the PlayStation Neo will be any different.
Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): Performance
This is where things really start to head in different directions. In effect, the Xbox One S is a slightly tweaked version of the former model. Its quad-core processing chip is clocked higher in order to run faster and offer a boost in performance, but it is fractional. RAM also runs faster too, but the most obvious improvements come with faster menu screens than in-game activities.
On the other hand, the PlayStation Neo is rumoured to sport a 2.1GHz octa-core processor and a graphics chipset with a purported 4.14 teraflops of power and GDDR5 memory running at 218GB/s.
In comparison, that’s like having a drag race between a Ferrari F12Berlinetta and an Audi A5. Yeah the Audi A5 is a lovely car… but it’s no Ferrari.
It means the Neo will be able to run games in 4K 60fps, ensuring many of the effects and graphical nuances are present while maintain smooth play.
Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): Design
This is almost impossible to make a judgement call on considering there are literally no details on what the PlayStation Neo will look like, but we can speculate with considered authority that it will be bigger than the new Xbox One S.
The white One S is 40 per cent smaller and thinner than its former generation, with the power supply now tucked away inside the main casing. The PS4 also has the power supply inside and is slim, but does make quite a racket when it’s hot.
Considering how powerful the PlayStation Neo’s chipset will be, we think it will run extremely hot. Hotter than the Xbox One S and PS4. That means there will need to be plenty of cooling inside.
Consider its spec is more akin to a gaming PC, then imagine how big a decent gaming rig can be thanks to sufficient cooling and you can see why we think the PS Neo will be on the beefy side.
Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): Backwards compatibility
It has already been confirmed that the PlayStation Neo will be backwards compatible with all PlayStation 4 games. Even brand new games will run on both of Sony’s consoles, just in a higher resolution on the new machine, and with better graphical presentation all round.
The Xbox One S is also completely compatible with all current and future Xbox One games. Several will appear with HDR graphics, but even they will run in a conventional Xbox One without the added visual flair. Microsoft has said that it’s answer to the PlayStation Neo, the Project Scorpio, will also be compatible with all Xbox One games when it comes out in late 2017.
Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): Price
To be honest, there is no indication yet as to how much Sony will ask for its powerhouse, flagship console. It’ll be a darn sight more expensive than the Xbox One S, that’s for sure.
We’ll update this section if and when we find out more, but for now the Xbox One S is priced at a very reasonable £249/$373,5 for the 500GB model, £299/$448,5 for the 1TB and £349/$523,5 for the 2TB edition, although it is said that the latter is now completely sold out.
Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): Release date
The Xbox One S is already in shops although, as we mentioned above, the 2TB launch edition is already reportedly out of stock. You will have to wait for the 500GB and 1TB versions instead, although we’re yet to find out when they will be available. We suspect later this month or September.
The PlayStation Neo’s actual release date is anyone’s guess at the moment. Smart money suggests it will come out in 2017, but Sony has thrown a spanner in the works by hosting its launch event on 7 September.
The PlayStation 4 was first unveiled 20 February 2013 and it hit US shops on 15 November later that year. If the Neo is to follow suit, we should expect it around the beginning to mid-June. E3 anyone?
Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): Conclusion
Some of those already in the know would say that this was an unfair comparison from the off. The PlayStation Neo is designed to be a considerable step-up from the PS4, while the Xbox One S is more of a stop-gap console until Microsoft’s Project Scorpio comes later next year.
Indeed, Project Scorpio is the Neo’s direct peer, not the Xbox One S, and that’s where the true next-next gen battle will take place.
As it stands, the Xbox One S is an excellent console – the best currently available. And unless Sony pulls a massive shock and announces the Neo for a Christmas 2016 release, you might consider the Microsoft machine as your better bet for now. After all, it’s also the cheapest 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player on the market.
It’s worth considering that our opinion is based on the rumoured specifications of the PlayStation Neo rather than confirmed details. We’ll reassess after its 7 September debut.