Sony PlayStation 4 Pro: $399, November 10, with better graphics, 4K and HDR -- but no 4K Blu-ray
First teased at the E3 gaming conference in June under the code name Neo, the box became official today. It will be called the Pro, and will be available November 10 for $399 (£349, AU$560).
Separately, Sony announced that the new non-Pro PlayStation 4, aka the PlayStation 4 Slim, will cost $299 when it becomes available September 15. The two consoles will coexist in Sony's line and be fully interoperable. In other words, all PS4 games will be playable on both consoles.
The Pro has double the graphics power of the standard PS4, which Sony says can improve the look of new and existing games. It also has a 1TB hard drive, double the capacity of the existing version, and a faster processor.
Unlike the current PS4, the Pro will support 4K resolution. It will have 4K-capable Netflix and YouTube apps for streaming 4K video at launch, the former with HDR capability, although no mention was made of support for Sony's Ultra 4K streaming app. Sony also demonstrated games that take advantage of its higher resolution and HDR, although it didn't specifically say that any of them were actually in 4K.
One thing it won't do, however, is play 4K Blu-ray discs. That's an unexpected development given that Sony Pictures is a big purveyor of the discs, and that the rival (and significantly cheaper) Xbox One S can play them. Microsoft is also on record as indicating that the next Xbox, Project Scorpio, will likely have 4K Blu-ray playback. The news of PlayStation 4 Pro's lack thereof is disappointing to PlayStation fans looking for the kind of all-in-one video and gaming device that the PS3 represented.
To demonstrate the new console, Sony showed scenes from a variety of games including Watch Dogs 2, Deux Ex: Mankind Divided and Killing Floor 2, using a 4K-capable display. It also showed the impact of HDR gaming with a demo of Days Gone and InFamous: First Light. The highly anticipated title Mass Effect: Andromeda got an extended demo as well, complete with a dark, geometric alien cavescape.
Sony says current and older games can be patched with something it calls Forward Compatibility, enabling graphical improvements tailored to the Pro's superior hardware. It showed a comparison of how the new console can improve existing games like Paragon, Shadow of Mordor and For Honor with standard 1080p TVs. It said a half-dozen such patches are currently in the works.
Another demo showed off the improved ability of the Pro to deliver VR gaming in conjunction with the PlayStation VR, coming next month.
The company also says that existing PS4 consoles will get HDR capability with the help of a firmware update sometime the week of September 12. Since the current PS4 has only 1080p resolution (not 4K), and no non-4K TVs support HDR, we're guessing the update is mainly intended to cater to owners of 4K HDR TVs who want HDR gaming without having to buy a Pro. From that perspective, Sony seems to be pushing HDR gaming harder than its rivals.
We'll have a full review when the console is released.