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Sony Announces PlayStation 4 Pro, Slim PS4

Neo gets a new name and a November release date.

Sony's press briefing to confirm the PlayStation 4 Neo was short and sweet, with a handful of games being shown in a way that, honestly, doesn't really play to anyone not in the room. Watching 4K games compressed over YouTube on a 1080 stream must wring some of the magic out of the images in translation. Word from our New York-based contingent is that the games look impressive on proper 4K TVs with HDR support.

The conference opened with news that the slim PlayStation 4, which has already been leaked, torn down, and sold multiple times over in various parts of the world, would be out in all markets by September 15, with a price of $299. Various tidbits, like a lightly redesigned controller and 5Ghz Wi-Fi support seem to be a part of this unit, too. It will become the new "standard" PS4 going forward.

The creamy center blade is what gives the PS4 Pro that professional touch.
The creamy center blade is what gives the PS4 Pro that professional touch.

From there, talk moved to the Neo, which is officially known as the PlayStation 4 Pro. The PS4Pro will launch on November 10 for $399. Pre-orders are slowly starting to open up around various retailers, if you're into that sort of thing.

A handful of existing and upcoming games were shown, but most of the upcoming games shown as a part of the "look at all these Ks of resolution" block of info seemed to be largely based around trailers and flyovers--precisely the sort of stuff that gets smoothed out to a clean, stable frame rate, even if said console versions haven't been optimized to actually run that way just yet. So I can't say that it came across as an effective demonstration, as someone who's been sitting in his spare bedroom with a head cold all morning. If anything, it looked like the standard "here it is running on a PC" sort of demonstration that you usually get for multiplatform games at E3. Assuming this was all running on an actual PS4 Pro, that'd be potentially impressive. Certainly it'd be better than the baseline PS4.

Sony wasn't too committal about which older games were to be patched to support the Pro specs, though it did say that over six first-party games and "many" third-party games would get updated to support the Pro-specific features. Of course, any PS4 game will run in a Pro, but the games must be patched to take advantage of the system's additional power, which is right in line with the specs leaked earlier this year.

VR was barely touched upon other than to say that Farpoint would look better in VR on a Pro than it does on a base model PS4. According to the leaked documents that fueled our story earlier this year, developers aren't allowed to build modes or options that are only available to Pro owners, so you won't be likely to see any games that are "exclusive" to the Pro or anything like that, VR or otherwise.

Highly professional video game console.
Highly professional video game console.

Netflix and YouTube will support 4K/HDR via updated versions of its streaming apps. Ultra HD Blu-Ray support wasn't specifically addressed, and Engadget has confirmed that the Pro won't actually support UHD Blu-Rays. That seems decidedly less than "Pro."

I've fallen in love with an LG TV that supports 4K and HDR, and it runs for around $2500. Assuming CES 2017 drags 4K technology slightly closer to the mainstream in January, 4K TVs could start to approach something resembling affordability, at least for the types of people who occasionally drop that kind of money on a TV. I could see myself going down this route simply due to forward momentum on these technologies, but... I'm probably going to order new PC parts next week, too. I don't know, I think I expected Sony to make a firmer case for why someone would want this upgrade, even if they don't have a fancy professional TV just yet, but it felt like that part of the presentation was missing. Or, you know, maybe you have no business buying a Pro unless you're getting a new TV. At least it ships with 1TB of storage in it?

I'd very much like to see these games running for myself, of course. It's hard to get a feel for how much any of this matters when you aren't seeing it in person.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+