2nd Impressions – The PS4 Features Revisited

December 10, 2013

You know that feeling you get when FINALLY that shiny new toy is in your hands. You play with that thing non-stop for hours, maybe days on end. Then, something happens, something changes. The new toy isn’t so shiny, isn’t so new and you realize, I really wish it did more, or came with other accessories. You wait for that next new thing that will make it shiny and new all over again. That’s almost how I feel about the PS4.

initialization of memory strand

With the launch of the PS4 came a brand new console for everyone to sink their teeth into. After months of waiting, I finally had it in my hands, hooked up to my TV and displaying all its technological goodness in 1080p clarity. The new PlayStation Dynamic Menu was a site to behold. Gone was the XrossMediaBar (XMB) of the PS3 days, this ushered in necessary change for the better. Navigation got some getting used to but once you familiarized yourself with the menus, controls and means of moving from menu to menu it became very easy to use and understand. Voice recognition was pretty cool (read my other article for my thoughts about that), facial recognition added some flare and the remote play capabilities really wowed me.

That was then, this is now

So after having the console for about a month, I’ve come to realize that the PS4 is a great console. The launch of the PS3 was so long ago I can barely remember how I felt then or afterwards. But with the PS4 there’s some things that are already stuck in my head that hope will change in the near future with firmware updates and features that have been talked about by Sony already. This isn’t meant to be a bitch session by any means, just observations of what I think are some glaring missteps by Sony right out of the gate.

UI  – GUI or Gooey?

So the new Dynamic Menu is pretty cool, it really does a great job of showing a lot more information/data about your games, activities and things going on through your social connections. That’s the cool, new stuff. What happened to themes? There’s no mention of them anywhere, static or dynamic ones! What happened here? Also, what if I hate blue? I’m stuck with the one color of Sony’s choosing. Font choices, no I don’t have that either. I can see all my games, but I can’t sort them in any particular order nor can I create folders to combine them to clean-up the interface a bit. Trophies are affected by this lack of sorting as well. These are all things I could have done with the PS3; these are some of the basics I think should have been present day 1.

To support Media or not to support media, that is the question

So the new console has some UI things that could be improved, big deal right? What IS a big deal is the lack of some heavy hitting features. PS3 owners have been up in arms for years about HDCP on the HDMI output. This means you cannot record game play directly from the output of the PS3 (there are workarounds but its not direct recording). Same thing with the PS4. Sony said it would remove HDCP from the PS4 in a future update but I would think that would have happened soon after launch since they tout the social aspects of the console so heavily. Just a bit oxymoronic if you ask me. Next up is no DLNA support. That’s a big one for me. I watch almost all my media through my console, it just works great for it and with everything centrally stored on my NAS it is convenient too. Well, my PS3 can do it, but my PS4 is jealous of that. DLNA isn’t new so why would Sony skip that capability they already support on a past generation of hardware? Even older than DLNA is MP3 support… take a guess which console can’t play MP3′s either?

thinking outside the box

So we’ve moved past the glitzy UI and the glamour of media features what’s left? Well, the PS4 doesn’t support external storage. Nope, you can’t attach a USB drive to it for it to recognize content. This could be related to the lack of DLNA/MP3 support but either way, its missing. You can use a USB drive to backup game content or perform a FW update but that’s a pretty limited set of abilities. The voice recognition commands are limited. They really do need to be expanded and used throughout the UI & games to become mainstream. Facial recognition is neat too, but I can only use it to log in. If you see my face, why not see my hands too and let me use gestures to swipe through menus. And if you let me do all that, why limit me to my Facebook profile picture only or one of those baked in avatars? Let me use my own profile pic (that could get dicey but we’re dealing with people who are going to push limits anyways).

FINAL thoughts

So those are my current feelings about the PS4. Am I going to sell it any time soon, turn it off and step away from the mic to breath, hell no! I love the PS4, its a great console that still wows me every time I use it. I just wish some of the features I relied on with my PS3 that have been around for years were available in the PS4. Any time features are removed for really no good reason, it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I know with time we’ll see these re-introduced back into our PS4 lives but until then, it seems my PS3 will still occupy a space on my shelf for the near future. What are your gripes with the console? What do you wish was back or what do you think is completely missing that should be there? Sound off in the comments section below.


2nd Impressions are articles by CNPalmer focusing on topics that have been previously reviewed/covered by himself or others in the community. It is meant to take a look back and give some follow-up detail that hindsight provides once the magic has worn off and reality sinks in. Sometimes the magic lasts; sometimes reality sucks. You’ve been warned. For more information follow CNPalmer on Twitter and subscribe to his YouTube channel to keep up to date on his other segments and work within the gaming community.

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