The PS4K, also known as the PlayStation Neo, has been widely discussed for months now, and Sony has even quietly confirmed that it’s in the works. But what about a simple mid-cycle PS4 redesign along the lines of the Xbox One S or the PS3 slim? It seems as if that minor hardware revision might be on its way sooner than we expected.
In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Takashi Mochizuki reports that an analyst from Macquarie Securities believes that a slim PS4 could be released as early as September. In a Tweet, Mochizuki spells out that it might show up at the Tokyo Game Show. Considering that the PlayStation VR is launching in October, and some leaks point towards a 2016 release for Neo, this might be the single biggest year in the history of PlayStation hardware.
Two and a half years ago, we speculated on what a PS4 redesign might end up being. Beyond a die shrink and a new case design, we mentioned 802.11ac for improved streaming and the addition of Bluetooth 4.0 for low-energy wireless communication.
Those improvements still make sense, but there are a few more features worth considering in 2016. Ultra HD Blu-ray and HDMI 2.x support would help the slim compete head-to-head with the likes of the $ 299 Xbox One S. Since Sony would love to sell us UHD Blu-ray discs and brand new 4K UHD TVs, positioning this as an affordable entry point to these high-res upgrades would be a smart strategy.
Of course, it’s easy to come up with a lengthy list of possible additions that would enhance the PS4 experience. USB 3.1 support, additional USB ports, better on-console buttons, better streaming/capture hardware, a bigger hard drive, built-in PS3 backwards compatibility, and the list goes on. There’s a lot of room for improvement.
We’d welcome any or all of those changes, but it’s important to remember that these mid-cycle revisions are often created in hopes of cutting production costs. Better components sometimes come along for the ride, but we’re not betting on this being a revolutionary redesign. If Sony is planning any major innovations, they’ll probably be funneled into the Neo.
Also, it’s important to remember that we’re only working from analyst predictions. There’s a possibility that we might simply get a new SKU that looks and performs mostly the same. The PS4 is reasonably small, so we can easily imagine a world where we get a few altered components inside, but the case isn’t slimmed down. There’s also a chance that this doesn’t happen at all. Analysts make mistakes all the time, so don’t get too invested in the idea of a slim PS4 just yet.
With the Nintendo NX lined up for an early 2017 release, and Project Scorpio scheduled for Q4 2017, the gaming industry is in for some big changes in the next year or so. At this point, it’s hard to recommend buying any console right now. Even if you’re uninterested in the Neo or Scorpio, the older consoles will likely drop significantly in price as we draw closer to the more powerful hardware. For the time being, the console market is stuck in a holding pattern.