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Testing the PS4 in the wild: a promising start for the PSN and the new console

Sunday, 17th November 2013 01:17 GMT By Phil Owen

The PS4 is out. Phil Owen has dug deep into its systems to see how it performs now all of North America is using it at the same time.

The launch of the PlayStation 4 in North America was off to a rocky start early Friday morning as East Coast purchasers set up their consoles only to be greeted by some legitimate network issues that hampered their ability to download firmware update 1.50. Those problems mostly abated quickly, however, and by 1 a.m. PST (we’re in Los Angeles) a friend and I faced no obstacles in setting up a unit aside from struggling to figure out how to turn it on. The rate at which it downloaded patch 1.50 was not ideal, but of course we were still able to play Killzone: Shadow Fall while it came down.

Getting online, and the PlayStation Store
At 10 a.m. Friday morning, I set up a second console on a faster connection (50 mbps), and everything went swimmingly. I had the firmware updated within ten minutes, and began downloading Assassin’s Creed IV, Contrast, Resogun and Warframe. All of them were install about an hour later. At one point, the Warframe download was stopped by a server timeout, but I told the system to retry and it continued the download from where it left off and had no further difficulties.

In the 24+ hours since then, the PlayStation Network has not been perfectly stable. From time to time network features in the PS4’s interface were briefly knocked offline — in the PlayStation Store in particular — with a notice that read “The Sony Entertainment Network is undergoing maintenance.” Other times I would get that message in place of info about the games on my system as I scrolled through the UI, but that didn’t impede their use at all.

Aside from being kicked out of the Store a couple times, I did have complications when redeeming codes for things a couple times. Three PSN money cards went in without a hitch, but I was knocked out of the Store when attempting to download Killzone pre-order bonus content after entering that code. When redeeming a PlayStation Plus subscription code, the UI’s loading bars popped up and never stopped. I left it going like that for about ten minutes before rebooting the PS4, and I found when I logged in that I had been credited with the Plus time. During the infinite loading bars, the PS4 was still doing things in the background, as I continued to receive notifications about downloads being completed and games being installed.

Playing and watching
Playing games online hasn’t been the most wonderful experience thus far. On Friday night — very late, and not in prime time — playing Resogun in co-op was a bit, eh, twitchy. My friend described it as “laggy”; on my end I would just experience periodic hangs, or pauses, in the action. It would go a few minutes without them, and then several would occur in relatively quick succession, about every five or six seconds. A similar effect happened less often in Killzone. In short, there are some network stability issues, but in my experience connecting has not in itself been a problem.

Entertainment apps that I’ve used have been flawless over the PlayStation Network. I streamed Iron Man 3 in HDX 3D, which is a pretty demanding thing as that feeds separate 1080pvideos as well as 7.1 audio. It took under two seconds from the time I selected the “watch” button to achieve maximum quality, which is faster than the PS3 Vudu app and about on part with what I get when using the service on PC. Netflix on the other hand seemed exactly as stable as its PS3 version, but the PS4 app does not include 1080p or 3D streaming as it does on PS3.

From Sony’s own Videos Unlimited I was able to stream the standard definition copy of 2012 I own on that service (it came with my PSP years ago!) without a hitch, but I could not find a way to download it to my hard drive as I have done on PS3.

Sharing
The sharing features on PS4 have been fully functional for me and a friend. However, the feeds don’t come out in the quality I would like even , and it does noticeably drop frames and hiccup a bit. With everyone probably all doing this at once, though, it’s hard to complain about how well it works this weekend. By that I mean Sony and Twitch seem to be holding it together admirably.

Screenshots are saved at game output resolution, but you share, say, a Killzone shot on Twitter they come out at 1024×576 for some reason. They are 1080p on Facebook. Saved videos also output in HD, and there are no settings that allow you to change the quality of either saved videos or screenshots, but you can choose the quality of the broadcast feed.

Remote Play
Now, the big one: remote play. In my apartment with both my PS Vita and PS4 sharing the same wifi connection, remote play was free of any lag. When I took the Vita into the hallway (my apartment is very small) it began to hiccup when I was about 40 or so feet from the router. Later, I took the Vita out of my building entirely, and I was unable to connect the Vita to the PS4 either for remote play or second screen functions (like text entry) on either Time Warner hotspots (which have strong enough connections that I can stream live ESPN feeds and movies from them) or other home networks. Again, it’s not that it’s laggy; it simply could not connect to the the PS4 over the internet.

tl;dr
Here’s my 36-hour experience with the PS4 now that everything is live and everybody is messing with it summed up: It also mostly works, most of the time, which honestly is far better than I had expected. Conventional wisdom with online-oriented launches like this is that it should start out bad and slowly improve, and so if the problems I’ve encountered are the baseline then PS4 seems like it is in good shape, at least until Christmas morning. The big point will be getting the thing to connect with a Vita over the internet, unless my inability to do so is not the norm (let us know kind of luck you’re having with that if you try it).

Personally, I won’t be using Vita remote play much in any scenario because I live alone, and using the rear touchpad for buttons isn’t a thing I’m going to want to do for fun. So aside from slightly rocky online experience the biggest deficiency in the PS4 experience is the inability to download Vita games from the store and transfer them to it via the USB cable. Currently, the store contains only PS4 games and there’s nowhere you can go to buy PSOne/PSP/Vita, nor can you access your full PSN download history from the console. Given that Killzone and Knack together take up about 85gb of space on my PS4’s 500gb hard drive even though I have disc copies, maybe it’s OK if my Vita games sit on my PS3 super slim’s 250gb one for a while. But downloads are much quicker on PS4 than PS3 or Vita, and there are many folks who traded a PS3 for money to put into a PS4.

In all, though, I’m happy with how the PS4’s launch has gone thus far. Moving forward I have no doubt there will be bigger issues, but it appears that Sony limiting the initial launch to North America was wise, and it should help head off worse problems popping up with the influx of new users in two weeks.

Should help.

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48 Comments

  1. ultragamer

    “Playing games online hasn’t been the most wonderful experience thus far. On Friday night — very late, and not in prime time — playing Resogun in co-op was a bit, eh, twitchy. My friend described it as “laggy”; on my end I would just experience periodic hangs, or pauses, in the action. It would go a few minutes without them, and then several would occur in relatively quick succession, about every five or six seconds. A similar effect happened less often in Killzone. In short, there are some network stability issues, but in my experience connecting has not in itself been a problem.”

    ^^^ Sony should have spent more time beefing up their network and less time sending love letters to indie developers. P2P is outdated technology.

    “The sharing features on PS4 have been fully functional for me and a friend. However, the feeds don’t come out in the quality I would like even , and it does noticeably drop frames and hiccup a bit.”

    I heard some same thing from a PS3.5 gamer on Twitch. He said they looked very compressed.

    Phil, how’s the quality of the video clips recorded straight to the HDD (not the video quality while streaming via Twitch)?

    #1 10 months ago
  2. John117

    No news regarding the “Blue light of death” yet? Seems a number of PS4 cant get past booting up and then get stuck at the “blue light” which should turn white when it gives a signal to the TV… Well, guess that’s a problem for the preorder guys :P

    #2 10 months ago
  3. TD_Monstrous69

    I’m with Phil on this. I’ve had some of these issues, but I think it’s been a good launch. I just wish there had been better games available @ launch, other than that no conplaints here, my sessions today have been all stable.

    #3 10 months ago
  4. ultragamer

    @3 Sony’s exclusive launch titles suck nuts, but at least you have BF4.

    The fact infamousSS is releasing late March instead of February really makes things worse.

    #4 10 months ago
  5. TD_Monstrous69

    @UltraGamer I’m actually liking KZ Shadowfall so far, and I haven’t played Knack yet, so I can’t say how it is. All I’m saying is launch day stuff kinda lacks variety (at retail at least), but sucks, I’m sorry, but I have to disagree with you there. But I know it’s only gonna get better from here, and I can’t wait.

    #5 10 months ago
  6. Obernox

    50mbps?!?! *faints*

    I wish i had that speed :(

    #6 10 months ago
  7. Nephilimator

    Sold out across the board. Congrats Sony for dominating your launch.

    #7 10 months ago
  8. ultragamer

    ^^^ SDF reporting for duty…

    #8 10 months ago
  9. Nephilimator

    ^^^ Don’t worry I’m sure DVRboxone will sell out as well. It’s natural around the holidays. The only difference between the two is the people that purchased PS4′s will be playing games, the people that purchased DVRboxone’s will be scanning QR codes, Skyping, Watching TV, playing games at 720/20 FPS that people on the PS4 are playing at 1080/60, and playing my little horse fable adventure with gimmeky motion gaming for $100.00 more. It’s all good legendary douche.

    #9 10 months ago
  10. FeaturePreacher

    Mr. Owen is incorrect about remote play. Here’s a guy who could get it through his cell phone.

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-11-16-man-demoes-vita-ps4-remote-play-over-mobile-lte-network

    #10 10 months ago
  11. Erthazus

    http://kotaku.com/ps4-blue-light-of-death-has-no-clear-fix-yet-1465979487

    BLUE LIGHT OF DEATH.

    #11 10 months ago
  12. ctankep

    @7

    Sold out as in Sony made sure most large stores only received
    5 -20 units on launch day to manufacture th’ requisite hysteria
    an’ Christmas demand [ see: Nintendo Wii ].

    It’s all bullshit because Amazon is being continually re -stocked
    an’ stores will get large shipments December 16 -20 to capitalise
    on whatever press is being drummed up now.

    Wake up smell th’ coffee or if you’re in Harbin where Foxconn
    is located then maybe wake up & smell th’ smog as factories have
    been running 24 / 7 to churn out th’ PS4′s ., iPad Airs an’ consumer
    goods for th’ “holiday” season. That’s what’s going on while you
    spooge over your new toys.

    #12 10 months ago
  13. Nephilimator

    @12 Thats good. Thats REAALLL good. Keep selling these bitches off on criags list then use profit to purchase one for mehselfffff once all the RROD 56% failure is corrected.

    If I get an addition put on the house next spring maybe i could fit a DVRxboxone into it. I would just leave a wall out so they could bring it in with a fork lift and set it down into the entertainment center if I could find one that would be big enough for DVRxbox.005. Then PRISM can watch meh cats and dogs all day since Microsoft just allows them free backdoor access into their products since they already allow NSA to monitor Skydrive, Skype, hotmail, etc.

    http://www.ibtimes.com/snowden-reveals-microsoft-prism-cooperation-helped-nsa-decrypt-emails-chats-skype-conversations

    But thats a small price to pay to be able to say DVRBOXone turn on oxygen network instead of using my pink studded remote. Do you think if you took a DvRBOXone on a flight if they would charge for two seats?

    #13 10 months ago
  14. polygem

    I edited this post into the void

    #14 10 months ago
  15. boomtownxcs

    From day 1 I have been streaming Knack from my home to my Vita at work, not hiccups or connectivity issues at all! Home connection is 5Mbps Upload and 70Mbps download, work Wi-Fi connection is 2Mbps up and down. Initially I did have an issue connecting however this was due to user error (forgot to set it up!). Great experience out of the box both over Wi-FI (I can use the vita as a controller and walk through my house in order to get a drink from the kitchen!) and remotely. This is truly impressive next-gen gaming!

    No blue light issue or HDMI problems from 12:15AM CST launch night!

    #15 10 months ago
  16. KineticCalvaria

    @15, sounds good! Can’t wait to get my ps4, not sure how much I’ll use remote play but I do like the idea of second screen gaming ala WiiU.

    #16 10 months ago
  17. Hell-Raiser-85

    PS4 has sold through over 1 million units within 24 hours of the launch in North America

    https://twitter.com/yosp/statuses/402014678244524032

    Japanese – use google translate
    http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20131117-00000007-mantan-game

    #17 10 months ago
  18. Beta

    https://twitter.com/amboyes/status/402016212655161344

    “Thanks to all you gamers getting us to 1 million sales of our PS4′s in our first 24 hours!”

    #18 10 months ago
  19. pukem0n

    @11 Erthazus

    well, at least it’s the best looking paper weight i have ever seen

    #19 10 months ago
  20. KineticCalvaria

    @19, lol.

    #20 10 months ago
  21. Zackslacky

    @6 ha ha ive 150mb in Ireland:)

    #21 10 months ago
  22. ultragamer

    @11 LOL! This launch is an epic fail for Sony.

    “BLOD awaits!”

    #22 10 months ago
  23. Telepathic.Geometry

    @21: Heh, was gonna say, I’ve had 100MB/s for the last 5 years. I’m Irish too…

    @Phil: Thanks man, that was a very useful impressions piece.

    #23 10 months ago
  24. Khelcius

    Has anyone got any impressions about the web browser? Is it rubbish like the ps3?

    #24 10 months ago
  25. TD_Monstrous69

    @Khelcius I’ve used it, and it more or less depends on what ur using it for. It’s a definite step up from PS3, but no quantum leap I’m afraid.

    #25 10 months ago
  26. Legendaryboss

    @24
    This is what you got so far, in terms of impressions.

    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=716900
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHGZH6F6Feo

    #26 10 months ago
  27. ultragamer

    How come Nephilimator isn’t posting his impressions of the PS3.5? Even he knows to stay away from Sony’s BLOD machine. LOL!

    #27 10 months ago
  28. Zackslacky

    @ ultra gamer his too busy with his cats and dogs from looks of it. Also has a facination with hating tv…prob amish first time on internet. He also likes paying for seats for a console on flights. Not the smartest of people/trolls.

    #28 10 months ago
  29. Obernox

    @21 WTF?!?! curse my shitty American connection.

    I’m sitting around 2.6 mbps :(

    #29 10 months ago
  30. Playmaker

    Necrofiliac showed up and left and yoshs command.

    The launch is abysmal with Knack as a launch title??? I’m sorry but that is a garbage game. The Sony store in Tyson’s VA was laughable empty while a line of pop waited to play KI at msft store. Until Sony comes out with a true exclusive and no BS I am not going near a PS4 and it’s multiple errors. YLOD BLOD RLOD

    #30 10 months ago
  31. Zackslacky

    @29 Yup internet is bananas good here. All for 45 a month? Savage. Cant wait to use it with my xbox day one friday:)

    #31 10 months ago
  32. redwood

    here is my review of this comment section

    http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/400x/37930313.jpg

    #32 10 months ago
  33. Nephilimator

    http://m.joystiq.com/2013/11/17/playstation-4-sells-1-million-in-first-day/

    Todal Sony domination as usual.

    #33 10 months ago
  34. USN-Never-Again

    The blue light of death is easily fixed

    Steps:
    1: Reboot PS4 with hard drive removed.
    2: The Ps4 will recognize that the hard drive is missing and go into safe mode.
    3: Shut off PS4 and reinstall hard drive.
    4: Reboot PS4 and it will enter safe mode and reinstall the OS.
    5: ENJOY

    #34 10 months ago
  35. Zackslacky

    @33 dude your trolling is terrible. Sony dominated against no next gen competition as xbox aint out yet. Still got a chuckle;) ha ha

    #35 10 months ago
  36. Zackslacky

    @34 not working for everyone.

    #36 10 months ago
  37. USN-Never-Again

    @36 OF COURSE

    #37 10 months ago
  38. Nephilimator

    Sony could also work the system and ship at a 56% failure rate like Xbox 1.5 then just claim them as sales. Tough road ahead for Dvrboxone.

    #38 10 months ago
  39. ultragamer

    ^^^ enjoy the BLODstation 3.5 LOL!

    #39 10 months ago
  40. tom4you

    Now we only have to get a bunch of games to play with PS4. According to a youtube post this might help a bit to our budget…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lKFBn54dA8

    #40 10 months ago
  41. Ireland Michael

    @39 What are you, five?

    Why are these troll accounts not deleted yet?

    #41 10 months ago
  42. KineticCalvaria

    @41, he’s not that bad Mike, just a bit annoying lol.

    #42 10 months ago
  43. Ireland Michael

    @42 He’s also a duplicate account of Legendarydouche.

    #43 10 months ago
  44. KineticCalvaria

    @43, ah that explains a lot. Can’t keep track of all the trolls around here any more lol. They’re more than likely all the same person anyway.

    #44 10 months ago
  45. Khelcius

    @TD & LB – cheers guys, looks like its gonna need some patches (who am I kidding). My PS3 keeps hard crashing if I try and view eurogamer.

    #45 10 months ago
  46. RocknRolla

    I am going to buy mine in 3 months, after sony addresses most issues xD so glad I did not pre-order now, GTA Online is going to keep m busy until then :)

    #46 10 months ago
  47. RussellGorall

    I’m just glad ultragamer has nothing to do.

    #47 10 months ago
  48. EdgizAwesome

    Still no idea why Ps4 is releasing 2 weeks later in europe.

    #48 10 months ago

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