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Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: How the features compare

A guide for deciding which new gaming console to buy

Published: November 13, 2013 12:00 PM
Photo: Microsoft and Sony

Very soon, the brand-new Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One video-game consoles will be in stores battling for your hard-earned cash. Both consoles will be more powerful than their predecessors, but how do they compare with each other? While consoles generally evolve over their life spans, a breakdown of their currently announced specs and features may help to guide your decision.

See how lab testers evaluated the new consoles in our reviews of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One.

—Matt Ferretti

  PlayStation 4 Xbox One What it means
Release date 11/15/13 11/22/13  
Price $400 $500 Older consoles may drop in price, so look for bargains if you don't need the newest ones.
Hardware      
Feature PlayStation 4 Xbox One What it means
Hard drive 500GB 500GB While both consoles have a 500GB hard drive, the PS4's is user-replaceable. The Xbox One lets you use external hard drives to expand its memory, but this feature won't be available at launch.
Memory and processors RAM: GDDR5 8GB RAM: GDDR3 8GB Confused? Basically, the PlayStation 4 has more built-in horsepower than the Xbox One. Call of Duty: Ghosts, for one, will run in 1080p on the PS4 and only in 720p on the Xbox One. We'll see how much of a visible difference this actually makes in gameplay, though.
CPU: x86-64 AMD "Jaguar," 8 cores CPU: Microsoft custom, 8 cores
GPU: AMD Radeon GPU: AMD Radeon
Motion and voice control PlayStation Eye ($60, not included)  Kinect 2 (included) The PlayStation 4 does have motion and voice control available through the optional PlayStation Eye camera. The Xbox One comes with the Kinect 2, which Microsoft claims will be able to detect more players and more subtle movements than the original Kinect.
Remote play PlayStation Vita ($200, not included) No PlayStation 4 does have remote-play functionality, which means the PS4 can stream games. But it streams them only to Sony's portable gaming device, the PlayStation Vita.
Controller DualShock 4: built-in touchpad, LED light bar, Share button to share gameplay with friends, and rechargable battery; connects via Bluetooth 2.1 Xbox One Wireless Controller: more sensitive rumble feedback, and requires AA batteries; connects via Wi-Fi Direct You can purchase a kit for your Xbox controller that is basically a rechargable battery pack. 
Universal control No Yes The Xbox One can control your TV and set-top box via an IR blaster built into the Kinect camera. You can access a channel guide on the Xbox and switch channels and inputs without needing to pick up separate remotes. You can also use the Kinect for motion and voice control of these devices. The PS4 lacks this ability.
Software, services, and standards support      
Feature PlayStation 4 Xbox One What it means
Exclusive games Knack, DriveClub, Killzone: Shadow Fall, InFamous: Second Son, The Order 1886 Ryse: Son of Rome, Dead Rising 3, Titanfall, Forza Motorsport 5, Quantum Break Devoted fans of specific games will base their buying decision on which console offers them.
Game installs Mandatory Mandatory Installing a game on your system's hard drive can reduce its loading time, because information isn't being pulled from a disc. But the games also take up space on your hard drive. The PlayStation 4 requires you to install at least a portion of the game before you start playing. The Xbox One requires you to install the game, but you'll still need to have the game disc in the tray to play it.
Online services Game play, streaming-video services (Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc.), Web browser, exclusive access to Sony Video and Music Unlimited, planned exclusive content from Sony Pictures. Game play, Streaming video services (Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, etc.), Web browser (internet explorer), exclusive NFL access, planned exclusive shows like a live action Halo series. A PlayStation Plus account ($50 a year) is required to play games online, but access to most entertainment services will be free. An Xbox Live Gold membership ($60) is required for most Xbox One features. The Xbox One will have more entertainment options available at launch, including HBO Go and an exclusive deal with the NFL. Access to streaming services can change over time, though, and both consoles expect expand their entertainment options.
Cloud services Play as you download, streaming game play, game-save storage, streaming from PS4 to PS Vita Play as you download, game-save storage, cloud processing (which adds to the processing power of the console itself) The use of the cloud for both consoles will evolve over time. For now, both consoles will let you play while your game is still downloading, and both will store saved games in the cloud. Sony has announced it will have a library of PlayStation One and Two games available to stream, as well as the ability to stream games to the PlayStation Vita from the PlayStation 4. Microsoft plans to use the cloud to provide additional processing power for games, provided you have an Internet connection, which could minimize the difference between the built-in processing power of the two consoles.
Second-screen apps PlayStation App Xbox SmartGlass Using the Xbox SmartGlass or PlayStation app, you can see what games friends are playing, send messages, and check out their achievements and trophies. You can also use second-screen features such as maps and some control of the console. You can also purchase games and download them to your console via the apps.
4K support Not yet known Yes 4K, otherwise known as Ultra HD, or UHD, is the newest high-resolution format. Microsoft has announced 4K support, but no further details yet. Sony has said that 4K support is under consideration.
CD/MP3 playback No Yes The Xbox One supports MP3 and CD playback, in addition to streaming music via its Xbox Music service ($9.99 a month). The PS4 will support music playback only via Sony's streaming service, Music Unlimited, $60 a year. But Sony may change its tune; it has updated its online PS4 FAQ with the comment, "We appreciate your feedback and are exploring possibilities." 
DLNA No Yes DLNA is the ability to access files from one device that are stored on another on the same home network; for example, watching videos on your Xbox that are stored on your PC. The PS4 will not support DLNA, although Sony added to their FAQ: "We appreciate your feedback and are exploring possibilities." The Xbox One will support DLNA.

For more gaming news, reviews, and advice, see our guide to video games, consoles, and tech toys.  

   

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