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My Present and Future with PS4

I didn't pre-order a PS4.  I had plenty of opportunities to do so, and I regretted my procrastination as launch day neared.  So I turned the acquisition of a PS4 into a game.  Could I obtain one before the end of 2013?  Less than a month after its launch, I did.

This isn't a story about what I went through to do so (because it wasn't very dramatic).  What I'm here to talk about today, brothers and sisters, are my first impressions of Sony's newest PlayStation.  These are a few of my favorite things.

The widely-lauded controller deserves special recognition.  It feels substantial and solid, but is pleasingly lightweight.  The buttons, sticks, and triggers feel as if they've been tuned to incredibly tight tolerances; the controller feels like a professional tool to be used for precise input.  It has a jack that you can plug any standard headphones into for private listening.  Its improved motion tracking allows you to type with the onscreen keyboard simply by moving the controller.  It's wonderful.

What else?  The Twitch and Uplay integration works well.  You can upgrade the hard drive with minimal fuss.  The interface is (mostly) intuitive.  The console itself is attractive and unobtrusive, and the LED bar looks futuristic and tasteful.

I can't say much about how it plays games, because I've only played Resogun (which is jammed full of seizure-inducing eye candy).  Killzone: Shadow Fall and Assassin's Creed IV are on the way to me.  But I'm not deeply worried that this PlayStation won't play.  The launch titles are lackluster, but apparently that's ok, because no console has ever had good launch titles.

I'm somewhat troubled by some of the design decisions in the software, but luckily, that's the easiest stuff to fix.  The notifications are attractive, and they swoop and fade in and out rather nicely.  But they're not actionable.  To see what a notification says, you must back out to the home screen (which suspends the game), scroll up to the notifications icon, and tap through multiple menus to access and read the message.  I'm disappointed that this user experience exists in 2013.  Seriously, Sony?  Give us a quick menu when we press the PS button, don't make us go back to the home screen.

It's dead easy to share video clips and screenshots, but editing clips for uploading is really clunky, and the only platform on which to share media is Facebook.  (I don't think you can directly share videos and screenshots with other PS4 users, which is weird.)  Also, you need to suspend the game to perform these actions.  Again, what year are we in?

Sadly, even the controller doesn't escape criticism.  The battery life is atrocious, and many suspect that this has to do with the built-in LEDs, which cannot be turned off in the interface (you can open the controller and disconnect the ribbon cable that powers them, though).

None of these niggles are cause for great concern, and system updates can fix and tweak all of them.  The hardware seems solid, from what I've seen, and there is plenty of potential to be exploited by developers.  For something that's touted as next-gen, though, there's not much to prove a radical shift in gaming.  I'll keep you updated as I spend more time with the system.