PS4 Slim review: Compact, beautiful and exactly what you’d expect
The PS4 Slim isn’t as transformative as I’d hoped it would be. Certainly nowhere close to the Microsoft Xbox One S. With the PS4 Slim, Sony has created a console that merely ticks the boxes of a smaller device ahead of the launch of the PS4 Pro later this year.
So the PS4 Slim is the original PS4 console in a new shell. It’s already the best console on the market and – like the PS3 Slim before it – it will go on to become the new standard moving forward, at least until the next full refresh.
PS4 Slim review: Design
My first impressions of the PS4 Slim based on the online leaks weren’t at all positive. In the flesh, however, its two-layer rhomboid design – reminiscent of the original PS4 – with its peculiarly placed USB ports is strangely beautiful.
Built using the same mottled, matte plastic of the PS3 Slim, the PS4 Slim looks classy and understated; once you’ve had it sat in your home-entertainment unit for a few months, it won’t look anywhere near as worn or scratched as the original glossy and matte PS4.
The only disadvantage I can find with the Slim’s design is its use of physical power and eject buttons in place of the sleek, touch-sensitive ones of the original model at launch.
However, the biggest draw of picking up a Slim remodel over the original is to save space. The original PS4 was never particularly bulky, though, so don’t expect the PS4 Slim to be a world apart. It’s around a third smaller, measuring in at 265 x 265 x 38mm compared to the PS4’s 275 x 300 x 53mm dimensions.
Sony may have achieved a similar 40% size reduction of the Xbox One S, but thanks to the small size of PS4 original, the difference doesn’t appear all that significant.
Nevertheless, it’s a clean and neat design, and if you plan on slinging it in a backpack to take to a friend’s house then its lower 2.1kg weight will be welcome, too; the PS4 weighed in at 2.8kg.
The PS4 Slim arrives with a slightly tweaked UI, thanks to Sony’s latest system update.
PS4 Slim review: Controller
Sony launched the original PS4 alongside a revamp of its iconic Dualshock controller, which was the first time the controller had seen a redesign since its launch alongside the first PlayStation in 1997. Although the PS4 Slim still uses the same revamped DualShock controller, it has seen a couple of tweaks to improve the user experience and remedy previous concerns.
First up, Sony has fixed that nasty thumbstick wear problem – or, at least it says it has. The grey rubber used on this second-wave DualShock 4 is more rugged and hard-wearing than that of the original. In fact, it appears as if Sony has reverted to using the slightly grey rubber found on the PS3’s far more durable Dualshock 3 controller.[gallery:14]
The next welcome change is the addition of down-the-wire connectivity to the PS4 when plugged in via USB. Previously, you could plug the pad into the front of the PS4 to charge and play at the same time, but the Dualshock 4 would still be transferring information via Bluetooth. Now, the Dualshock 4 sends signals down the wire, thus reducing input lag and causing beat-em-up and FPS fans to let out a collective cheer.
The final tweak is the addition of a front-facing lightbar in the touchpad. It’s a small change designed to help people identify who’s signed in with which pad when multiple people are playing together.
PS4 Slim review: Features
Unlike the PS4 Pro, which will come with 4K gaming, 4K video playback and a performance boost, the PS4 Slim shares a feature set with the current PS4. In fact, it’s so similar that this new version isn’t officially named the PS4 Slim; it’s simply the new PS4.
There are, however, some changes in terms of capability. First up, HDR (high dynamic range) has been unlocked straight out of the box. HDR has made its way to all PS4 consoles via Sony’s system update 4, but since the Slim comes equipped with the latest firmware, you won’t have to worry about updating it before you can use it. Annoyingly, there’s currently no HDR content available for the PS4, so we’ll provide an update once compatible titles start rolling in.
The PS4 Slim also benefits from a reduction in heat, noise and power usage. On the whole, it’s only a shade louder than the super-quiet Xbox One S – and a whole lot quieter than both the PS4 and Xbox One. It runs cooler than the original PS4 too, which had a tendency to become toasty following extended hours of play.
Most importantly, though, the PS4 Slim uses far less power. The PS4 sucked up a worrying 95W at peak output, a number the PS4 Slim almost cuts in half; it drains 53W when playing a Blu-ray movie.
There are a few items missing, though. The first is the removal of the optical S/PDIF port on the rear, which is bad news for those who want to use a premium gaming headset – many use optical out as the preferred method of output.
The PS4 Slim also lacks the 4K Blu-ray compatibility of the Xbox One S has. In fact, even the forthcoming PS4 Pro won’t support it.[gallery:4]
PS4 Slim review: Verdict
Aside from those issues, however, the PS4 Slim is everything you’d expect it to be. It would have been nice to see Sony adopt Microsoft’s stance and add some new features, but in truth, it really didn’t need to.
With a collection of small tweaks, Sony has successfully improved upon what was already an excellent console. If you were contemplating buying a PS4, I’d encourage you to opt for the PS4 Slim instead – you won’t be disappointed.