Sony’s PlayStation Meeting is scheduled for just two and a half weeks from now, the world will finally know what Sony’s R&D department have been quietly working on for the past few years and get a fresh look at the upcoming PlayStation VR as well as the confirmed PlayStation NEO. Not only has the PlayStation Slim’s final production design been leaked but rumors are suggesting that Sony may unveil a mysterious third product. Here is why that makes a lot more sense than you think.
PlayStation 4 Slim Confirmed In The Wild
Prior to the PlayStation NEO’s official confirmation fans speculated that a ‘PlayStation 4 Slim’ and ‘PlayStation NEO’ could indeed be one in the same. This has now been confirmed false as the PlayStation 4 Slim’s final production model & retail packaging have leaked. At least one person has a retail unit in their hands at this very moment and comparisons to the 2013 PS4 are popping up all over the place.
According to The Verge the production PlayStation 4 Slim originally appeared on an online auction. The soon to launch configuration would include a 500GB hard drive, one Dual Shock 4 and the newly redesigned console. Ideally this would replace the existing larger PlayStation 4 launch model from 2013 rather than exist alongside it, there is no need for three separate SKUs + holiday bundles on the shelf. Now would be the perfect time to phase out the launch model and offer the re-design to consumers who don’t want to spring for the premium NEO experience.
Here is a look at the retail packaging thanks to Twitter:
What We Know About ‘PlayStation NEO’
PlayStation NEO is an iterative version of the PS4 architecture that will offer players a ‘premium experience’ thanks to several pieces of upgraded hardware under the hood. Not only will it provide support for 4K media & Ultra-High-Definition Blu Ray disks but it will also offer a specific ‘NEO Mode’ for games launching as early as this October. The hardware was initially rumored for months before being confirmed by Sony’s Andrew House back in June.
So what has changed under the hood? Given that this is not the PS5, don’t expect anything too radical, instead think of the NEO as the difference between a game on Medium or High graphics settings on a PC versus Ultra.
Here is a quick run of some of the rumored changes, it should be noted that multiple outlets have vetted these changes through development sources:
- Base clock speed increase from 1.6GHZ to 2.1 GHZ
- GPU clock frequency upped from 800 MHZ to 911MHZ
- GDDR5 Memory BUS speed upped from 176 GBS to 218 GBS
Unanswered Questions Surrounding PlayStation NEO
While we have a detailed breakdown of the specs on offer by the upcoming PS NEO there is still a lot of things we simply don’t know.
First off is how much of a boost that the NEO specific mode will give players, with only a 100MHZ~ boost on the GPU this jump is very similar to the increase is similar to the one that Microsoft included with the Xbox One S, and digitally foundry found it only meant a few frames per second in select titles. Really the core improvement will be in the memory transfer speed and processor clock speed, let’s hope they give devs enough headroom to improve beyond the base PS4 model.
How will PS4 NEO interact with the PlayStation VR which is set to launch this October? It has already been confirmed that the PlayStation NEO does not exist because the PS VR experience on the original PS4 was subpar – this rumor was swiftly and officially debunked. PSVR requires an external processing box, about half of the size of an original PS4 console, in order to provide the processing needed to render two simultaneous images for the headset. Will NEO’s updated specifics mean that the processing box will not required? Hopefully we will find out at the PlayStation Meeting!
Lastly – what kind of fabrication process and AMD APU architecture does the NEO use? The original PS4 utilized AMD’s Jaguar Core, which originally made its debut on store shelves in 2012. Graphics card technology & processor tech have come a long way in the past four years, with AMD’s own Radeon 480 (based around the long in development Polaris core) not only setting the standard for price point but also enabling mainstream to enter VR at an affordable $200 USD. Polaris has been so successful that retailers can barely keep the cards in stock – could AMD pack in the latest version of their GPU technology into the NEO?
Here Comes A New Challenger
This is the part where things go off the rails completely with absolutely no factual basis whatsoever. Notice how one particular Sony platform was not only absent from this article so far but also missing from Sony’s E3 press conference? Yup, the PlayStation Vita seems to be missing in action for the past few months – especially after a Sony Exec referred to the platform as a “Legacy Platform” cast a shadow of doubt on the 4 year old handheld.
Today on NeoGAF someone reiterated rumors that sprang up in June – that Sony would announce 3 products at their next big reveal including a “PSP like device”. It seems that the leak of the PS4 Slim spurred the resurfacing of these unsubstantiated rumors but with Sony recently patching a Kernel Exploit on the console within a matter of days perhaps there is hope for a PS Vita revival.
It doesn’t seem likely that a PS Vita successor would be announced at the PlayStation Meeting, word about this would have simply leaked from development sources unless Sony is going to chock both the general public and the development community with an early teaser – the same way that Microsoft did with the Project Scorpio announcement at E3.
Fans have stated they’d an all new handheld with a lot more power – perhaps something in line with what Nintendo is planning for its unannounced NX Handheld. Others have speculated that Sony may embrace an open source platform like Android to power a PS Vita successor.
Realistically we are more likely to see a new PS Vita SKU sometime in 2017 rather than this holiday season. Not only does Sony have two large products launching this October – PS Neo & PSVR but PS Vita and Sony is already going to have their hands tied to selling consumers on VR and iterative hardware. With the Vita continually losing retail shelf space, developer support and facing an all-digital future perhaps a refreshed hardware SKU could include often requested like triggers for use with remote-play and HDMI out port.
The Choice Is Yours
Even if a potential PlayStation Vita successor or upgraded SKU does not appear there is a lot to be excited about. This wrap-up is over 1200 words and doesn’t mention any GAMES, you know the things that you own the multi hundred $ box for. Sometimes it can be hard to get wrapped up in specs and the future of technology but there is a lot to be excited for in the near term. Sony is going to have a bit of a challenge selling console owners on VR given how niche VR experiences are on the PC – which has had access to high-end VR for months. With the availability of the NEO potential owners will have a new choice to enter the 8th generation of games and it should drive down the cost of second hand launch PS4s, making the platform even more accessible.
We will see what Sony has in-store on September 7th!