Tuesday, November 26, 2013

1080p Patches for PS4 - Do they help or hurt Xbox One?

Its been speculated that MSFT has had a hand in asking developers to not release games in 1080p 60hz for PS4 during the review phase.  I believe COD Ghosts and Assassins Creed 4 are used as examples.

The question is does it really help.  I'd say it doesn't.  Here's why.

I play a game for a few minutes then update it to the 1080p remix/patch, and then all the sudden I have a side by side comparison of 1080p vs 720p upscaled to 1080p.  And all the animated gifs in the world wouldn't be as demonstrative of the difference then running it thru the same audio hardware and display. 

To me I was shocked at the difference.  I thought I wouldn't be able to tell 1080p vs 720p upscaled to 1080p, boy was I wrong. 

On my 60" vizio the differences are clear.  Literally clear, the 1080p picture is just crisper and pops, where the 720p upscaled is kind of fuzzy. 

I wouldn't be writing this blog without that patch.  The gifs and youtube videos don't show the fidelity difference based on size and compression.  When you have it on a 60" tv in your face its clear.  The 1080p picture is noticeably clearer.   It's almost like you get a comparison of how much more performance you get with a PS4 on these third party launch games.

I got to say maybe they scored a few reviews where reviewers were claiming little differences in picture because the patches hadn't come out yet, but they showed the people the difference for themselves in a way a review couldn't because of the limitations of the medium. 

Its almost like holding a TF201 vs a TF700 a reviewer can say how clean the text is,  you can get close ups of the icons, but until you actually see it you understand the difference.  Its a small difference where the resolution becomes a non issue and you just see the data displayed without jagged lines, or in the case of the PS4 vs Xbox One you see the sharp clarity in detailed pictures vs a bit of a fuzziness/smoothing effect over everything especially roof details, foliage, etc.. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

PS Vita Push -- at Best Buy for 169

Sony is pushing the vita and PS4 synergistically with great use of "home cloud" based gaikai streaming aka "remote play".  The PS4 will render its games then stream it to the Vita which the user can play on the go or while the TV is in use, for example on Sundays.

This has reinvigorated the ~20 month old system which has been called by the NYT the best portable gaming system for adults.

Sony has also pushed back the release of the PS4 in Japan till 2014 and instead has released the PS Vita TV in Japan.  It is likely that this will make its way here.  Overall with price drops (NOW ON SALE AT BEST BUY FOR 169, YES I'M YELLING!) and interesting streaming options (which are NOT just limited to in-home wifi) Sony is making an interesting case for the Vita and I'd imagine will move quite a few units in the upcoming months.

Many PS4 and XBOX One games going for 49

Between Amazon and Wal-Mart you can procure almost every launch title for $49 a savings of approximately $11.  Wal-Mart also has Skylanders Swap Force Starter set for half off including for the PS4. 

These deals appear to be amongst the best for next gen gaming this black friday. 

Amazon $49:

Wal-Mart $49:
  • Assassins Creed 4 (the 1080p patch is quite noticeable, I didn't think it would be)
  • KillZone Shadow Fall (very good, just played through it, nice story, good albeit hard environmental puzzles, interesting use of tech with OWL etc)
  • Need For Speed Rivals (I haven't played this yet but I've heard its the best in series) 
  • Skylander's Swap Force (PS4) 37.50 
  • Battlefield 4  (haven't played all the way through but super smooth on the PS4, and very intense)

Asus Book T100 s on sale.

I've been noticing the new Baytrail Intel powered quad core Asus built windows 8 keyboard docking 2GB tablet has had some nice deals going for it.  I'll post here and try to get a review up to see if this beautiful piece of hardware has the unfortunate ASUS stutter that the T201 T300 T700 have had.

Sam's club has the 64gb version for 349.
Microsoft has a version for 299 from 11/28 to 12/02

New XBOX One Confirmed

Manufacturing sources in China have leaked and it has been confirmed a new version of the Xbox One is likely to hit the assembly lines early 2014.   This new version will likely cost the same, still include a kinect but upgrade the Xbox One internals to remove the memory bottleneck.  

I think the easiest way to see this realized is a straight upgrade of the system memory from DDR3 to GDDR5, though it might be a jump in ESRAM (less likely).

Wal-Mart Black Friday PS4 Times Released

Dualshocker has released the times additional Black Friday Advertised in Stock PS4s will be released:

"All the PS4 delivered had the USA code, which corresponds to Black Friday, and there are four different USA codes, corresponding to 8 PM, 10 PM (on Thanksgiving), Midnight and 6 AM [On Black Friday]"

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fix PS4 No Signal. Broken PS4

Check out your HDMI ports carefully there can be bits of metal that protrude into the HDMI cable which will strip pins and result in a "No Signal" on your TV. Source: http://kotaku.com/good-news-about-our-once-broken-ps4-1464813671

PS4 out of box update takes less than 5 minutes

I just updated the normal way on launch day and the servers were much faster than anticipated delivering the update in seconds with the majority of the time for the resetting.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

New Nexus 7 taps Snapdragon S4 Pro to Good Reviews

The new Nexus 7 has utilized the Snapdragon S4 Pro and has shown to be a positive choice in the long term versus the Tegra 3 which had stuttering issues when built by ASUS.

Amazon Buy One Get One Free PS4 Pre-Order

If you have preordered a system from Amazon you should check your inbox for an exclusive promo to buy one game get one free. This is the best deal on next gen games yet. I've seen a few black friday ads but this is the best for PS4, next is the Buy two get one free any games at target XBONE included, finally I've seen Assasins Creed 4 by itself for 38 or so on next gen.

PS4 and XBOX ONE Video Games buy 2 get 1

The photo captures showing the Target Video Game Sale has proven to be true. I checked out Target today and they only have COD Ghosts Adventures as their only PS4 game. Amazon has followed suit but Amazon's sale starts tuesday with the code GR8TNESS. Buy 2 Get One Free

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

PS4 vs XBOX One / XBONE Hardware Overview

So in the past there has usually been a compute winner and a gaming system that's easier to develop on.  In the 8th generation of Video Game Systems we see a move toward x86 (Will ARM be a player here next gen?) sort of mini computers.  However, these are much more integrated leveraging its advantage over actual computers.

The PS4 utilizes low power but out of order optimized 8 core x86 which can apparently turbo to 3.6GHz.  The APU is integrated and shares a pool of 176GB/s GDDR5 Memory which in the past has only been used for video ram.  This cuts down on the need for RAM and will allow the system to compete against higher priced gaming computers.  At $399 the PS4 offers bang per buck with an optimized unified architecture and a 1156 shader Radeon GPU which has been optimized for tessellation and GPGPU.

The XBOX One is a lot like the PS4 but it lacks some deep level integration between the CPU and GPU in the APU, the parts are slightly less powerful, and it utilizes 32 MB of 107/GB/s  ESRAM.  I do not understand adding the ESRAM.  It is not enough to render a 1080p 24bit picture, the number should have been like 128MB or 512MB to not be a bottleneck.  The choice of 32MB for the ESRAM optimizes the Xbox One for 720p 16bit resolution since its not enough for 1080p.  The Xbox One also utilizes a similar AMD/ATI Radeon GPU but with 768 Shaders vs 1156. 

Xbox One opted for 8GB 68.4 GB/s DDR3 (vs GDDR5) which took one of the major advantages of the PS4 unified system and made it a disadvantage.  The Xbone GPU will also be gasping for RAM during graphical sprints. 

This is a pretty big step back for the XBOX One, however, the Original XBOX 360 didn't have a HDD and had some other small issues like overheating.  I would think Microsoft may upgrade the ESRAM or the DDR3 to GDDR5 in later versions.  This would help increase minimum frame rate and make it easier for later games to run at 1080p. 

In conclusion, I would have liked to see this generation run at 4k 60fps or upscale to them competently.  All is not that bad though we do have computers which can run that and the introduction of the 8th gen systems means we all will benefit from DirectX 11 visuals which has long been held at bay by the least common denominator.

EDIT UPDATE:  Sources from China have confirmed a "new" version of the XBOX ONE is in the works.  What's not confirmed is what's different.  Some have posited its the $349 version without a kinect but that doesn't seem to hold water as they would just ship the current version without a kinect.  The new version is a new Xbox One with modifications to the hardware hence "new" not just "re-bundled".    It is likely that this report confirms an Xbox One is in the works using GDDR5 to be built early next year.