PS4 vs Xbox One: Price, specs & features review

Jump in and take a seat: the biggest console fight in recent history is about to begin.

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In the blue corner we have Tokyo's finest - the PS4 and in the green corner, fresh from the minds at Redmond, Washington, the Xbox One.

Unfortunately if you're trying to decide which one is the best there's no easy answer. Both of these consoles are packed full of technological firepower, value and innovative new features, so it will depend on what your preferences are and how you plan to use your system.

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If you're about to head out and grab one of these consoles and you're unsure of which one to introduce into your gaming lair, here's our take based on the firehose-stream of information floating around the net: The PS4 is a better looking, slightly beefier system compared to the Xbox One, which also has the benefit of being a bit cheaper. On the other hand the Xbox One has a better set of media features and a great Kinect product which comes standard with all consoles.

Of course with consoles it's rarely this simple, so read on to find out more about what you can expect from both.

The technological arms race

Both consoles have more marketable tech than you can shake a stick of GDDR5 memory at.

Both come with Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) from chip making giant AMD, which merge both the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) together.

In terms of the CPU, both systems utilise the 'Jaguar' eight core chip, although these are customised. The PS4 is clocked at 1.6Ghz, while Microsoft's flagship is clocked at a slightly higher 1.75Ghz.

What does this mean? Not a whole lot for you as a gamer. Both machines should be more than capable of handling the majority of games and applications and with speed.

Where things get slightly murkier is in the memory department.

8GB is the amount of memory both developers have opted for, but the PS4 has gone for the GDDR5 variety compared to Xbox One's DDR3. Again, as a gamer you may not see the difference in this on every game and application, but it bodes well from a developer's perspective and this might translate into a better experience with some games.

Some reports indicate that the Xbox One reserves a bit less memory for its operating system, leaving more for developers and games (5GB vs the 4.5GB offered to developers on the PS4).

The GPU each system employs is different from the last generation of consoles. The PS4 has slightly more cores available at 1,152 vs 768, but is clocked at a slower 800MHz vs the Xbox One's 853Mhz. Overall the PS4 has a peak throughput of 1.84 TFLOPs which edges out the Xbox One's 1.23 TFLOPs.

If all this gave you a brain bang then the biggest takeaway from this information is that the PS4 has slightly more to offer in the performance department, which might mean smoother or better looking games, but as always it's up to games developers to utilise this.

One of the more publicised pieces of evidence for this extra grunt is that the PS4 can run Call of Duty: Ghosts at 1080p natively, whereas the Xbox One will run it at 720p and then upscale it to 1080p. What does this actually translate to?

The comparison that online gaming magazine IGN carried out shows the difference isn't actually all too obvious, but as always do a bit of research and watch the video to get the full story.

Graphics comparison

Image credit: IGN

The last notable point to mention in this comparison is that the hard drive for the PS4 can be removed and indeed upgraded by users, while the Xbox One is non-removable (although external hard drive options are planned).

The beauty contest

The current generation of consoles is no longer content with being hidden in a TV unit or in your bedroom. Sony and Microsoft have put a lot more into the media capabilities of these systems (with Microsoft really taking the lead on this one, more below), so it's easy to see why a console's appearance is so important.

This part of the comparison is case-closed in favour of the PS4. That's of course unless you have a thing for VCRs which look like they belong in Two Face's bedroom. The Xbox One has a two-toned finish which is half-vent half-gloss. It's also much bulkier than the PS4.

Xbox One

Image credit: Microsoft

Meanwhile Sony has gone to town with the PS4. The console is a parallelogram shape which is split in the middle. It's also smaller than the Xbox 360 and PS3. Like the Xbox One it has a mixture of gloss and matt plastic, but it's clear that the PS4 has the upper hand in the use of these design elements.

PS4 Console

Image credit: Sony

Take control

You're going to have your sweaty paws on this piece of technology every time you game with one of these machines, so it's something each developer has painstakingly researched and refined. If you're a fanboy or girl of either system you won't be particularly upset by the new controllers, nor will you be swayed to a rival system because of its controller.

Both are finessed versions of their original designs which emerged more than a decade ago now.

Improvements have been made on either side, but the major changes seem to be aimed at Sony's lagging controller.

The PS4 controller is slightly bigger and has improved analog sticks which should help to reduce finger slip. It feels heavier and better than the Dualshock 3.

Rounding out the features are additions such as a headphone jack, speaker, touch panel and a share button, which will enable you to upload videos, screenshots and livestreams of whatever you're doing. Facebook, Ustream and Twitch are some of the supported platforms for this sharing, although Youtube and Twitter might also follow. The final noteworthy additions is an LED light bar at the back of the controller to identify players, which might come in handy when a few friends come over.

PS4 Controller

In the green side of the pond the Xbox One controller has undergone less drastic surgery, but has receive a claimed 40 improvements. The majority of these in reality should be classified as tweaks more than major improvements, but this isn't necessarily bad - the Xbox controller has traditionally stood head-and-shoulders above offerings from Sony. The thumbsticks and D-pad have been overhauled, which fans of the first person shooting genre should appreciate. The controller also has trigger rumble, which means you'll feel feedback in your fingertips.

Xbox Controller

Entertain me

As mentioned above, both of these consoles have tried to embrace the concept of being the go-to piece of technology for your entertainment needs. The Xbox One has really run with the concept, allowing you to watch TV, call up favourite channels and watch videos on the various apps including Netflix and Amazon Video. It allows both input and output HDMI audio and video to help you do this and with the much-improved Kinect you can control many functions with your voice. The ability to turn your Xbox One and TV on with one command is slick, although as many reviews around the web point out this comes with some flaws. A snap feature also allows you to, well snap, from apps to games with ease.

In Australia you'll see apps such as ABC iview, CNET TV, Gamespot TV, IGN, FOXTEL Play, NBA Game Time, MLB.TV, Quickflix, NHL GameCenter, NineMSN, SBS on Demand, YouTube and VEVO.

The PS4 doesn't go as long in the entertainment department as it's American cousin. While in America and Europe both consoles have a great deal more apps out-of-the-box, in Australia the PS4 has a tiny number of apps. These being Sony's Vidzone, Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited and very shortly, Quickflix.

If you have a Playstation Vita you can stream your PS4 to it, which is useful in the event that the television that your PS4 uses is occupied. The PS4 also can't play mp3s or CDs, whereas the Xbox can.

Also important to note is that the Xbox One supports DLNA. This feature enables you to stream music and video to the console directly. The PS4 doesn't have this, although it has been mentioned as a possible addition.

The VIP list

Consoles can be defined by the launch titles they're released with, but unfortunately neither system has been released anything amazing.

On the blue side of the fence you have exclusive titles such as Knack, a cutesy platformer which was met with mixed reviews. First person shooter franchise Killzone also makes a return with Shadow Fall and there's Resogun too, a twin stick shooter which focuses on cylindrical combat. Both are solid titles.

In the pipeline there's also Infamous: Second Son, the delayed DriveClub and the intriguing Order 1866.

The Order 1886

Battle terrifying monsters and sport a cool moustache in 'The Order 1886'

Killzone Shadow Fall

Complete the next chapter in the Helghast conflict with Killzone Shadow Fall

The Xbox One launch saw the release of exclusives such as Dead Rising 3, the latest title in the humorous zombie-killing series and Forza 5, the advanced racing title. Both of these titles have garnered impressive reviews.

There's also Ryse: Son of Rome, which dropped the ball a bit but which remains a breathtaking example of what the machine can do. In the future we'll get our hands on highly-anticipated exclusives like TitanFall and Quantum Break.

Ryse: Son of Rome

The less-than-stellar Ryse: Son of Rome

Quantum Break

The unique television-game hybrid Quantum Break

Exclusive titles might be one reason why you'll buy one console over the other, but the real gold is in the shared titles. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4, Call of Duty Ghosts, NBA 2K14 and Need for Speed Rivals are some of the games you can enjoy today and The Elder Scrolls: Online, Mirrors Edge 2, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Watch Dogs can be added to this list shortly too.

Playstation Camera VS Xbox One Kinect 2.0

Microsoft has made a bold move by including their improved Kinect standard with all console purchases - albeit with a higher base price than the PS4. Still, the Kinect can be used to issue your Xbox One with voice commands, so you can get your game started or watch TV. It'll recognise you, which is good for consoles which have more than one user and can be used to talk to other gamers in lieu of a traditional headset. As was the case with the previous iteration of Microsoft's flagship innovation Kinect doesn't always work, but it's a great step in the right direction and has Sony's firmly behind it.

The Kinect 2.0 comes with a much beefier camera (up from 480p to 1080p) and new software to recognise the data it's receiving using this camera and the IR blaster.

Kinecy Vs Eye

The Playstation Camera isn't standard when you buy the PS4 and has less in the way of voice control options than the Kinect 2.0 - you can launch games and capture screenshots to name some of the possibilities. It also differs to Microsoft's product in that it uses two cameras rather than one, but can also log you into the system as the Kinect can.

Price wars

At the time of writing the PS4 was selling for $549, but if you add the Playstation Camera to that you'll be putting another 90-odd dollars to that price. If you go green and take the Xbox One home you'll be spending more at $599.

It's useful to note that the PS4 no longer has free online multiplayer capabilities. Like the Xbox One you'll have to pay a subscription fee if you want to frag your buddies online.

For the Playstation Plus network this is a fee of $69.95 for 12 months. This comes with access to the 'Instant Game Collection' which at the time of writing included Resogun and Contrast and a host of games on PS3 and PS Vita.

Members also get cloud storage and discounted offers.

The equivalent service for the Xbox One 'Live Gold' is $79.95 for 12 months.

Subscription to Live Gold allows you to instantly watch TV, live sports and movies, listen to music from Xbox Music Pass and play online. You'll also get discounts on games and other content and early access to exclusive content.

Our verdict

Comparing the two consoles, it's clear that each system is geared slightly towards different gamers. The Xbox One clearly caters to the user who will put their console in their living room and use it not only for gaming but also Skyping relatives and friends, watching TV and other video through the provided apps and using the Kinect functions.

The PS4 user might want maximum performance available in a system today, as well as a system which looks good wherever it's put.

Either way you won't lose out by choosing either system, so let the games begin!

Where can I get my hands on one of these bad boys?

Pre-sales for the PS4 saw it sell out in Australia rapidly. If you want to buy one follow the links below and you can order your very own. Simply choose your favourite console from the options below.

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Jargon Buster
Jargon Buster

DLNA - This stands for Digital Living Network Alliance. It was formed by Sony in 2003 and is designed to enable different devices such as phones, computers and televisions to communicate and share files.

GDDR5 - The standard memory found in most computers today is Double Data Rate (DDR) memory. The number found after that indicates its interface method and speed, with DDR3 memory roughly twice as fast as DDR2 memory. This is better suited to computers which not only are used for gaming but for other programs. Graphical Double Data Rate (GDDR) is typically more expensive than DDR memory and is suited more to gaming applications. As is the case with DDR memory, the number after the GDDR signifies the interface method, with the higher number being faster.

TFLOPS - TFLOPS stands for Trillions of Floating Point Operations Per Second and is a benchmark to measure the performance of a computer.

AMD - AMD stands for Advanced Micro Devices, an American company which makes the central processing units and graphics processing units for many devices, including the PS4, Xbox One, WiiU and new Mac Pro.

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