Blu-ray Speed and Hard Drive Need

During Sony’s press event at E3 on June 10, 2013, the PlayStation 4 was revealed to have a 500GB hard drive that could be swapped out for any compatible HDD or SSD on the market. While this is the same storage capacity as the Xbox One, Microsoft’s console can only be swapped out with a proprietary HDD and cannot be manually serviced with a third-party hard drive. The solution for Xbox One owners would be to use an external hard drive via one of three USB 3.0 ports for larger data storage. This essentially serves the same functionality as the internal hard drive for game downloads and installs.

The PS4 apparently doesn’t give a crap and allows owners to freely swap out hard drives along with the option of external storage options. Imagine the load time possibilities with an SSD inside a PlayStation 4. You also can’t forget about the faster data processing times with the Blu-ray drive, which is three times faster than the PS3 and thankfully not an overpriced piece of advanced tech this generation.

Data Storage
The PlayStation 4 will only have one storage option available when it launches this holiday season and it’s a pretty fair offering of 500 gigabytes. Assuming Gaikai will store game saves and account data in the magical cloud, this leaves a lot of room for game installations and background apps for the PS4 user interface. Since Sony seems to be moving towards a totally digital game space where new releases will hopefully have downloadable versions right next to physical copies, swappable storage capacity will become a major concern for gamers.

Then again, a user could go in the opposite direction and opt for the faster load and boot times with an SSD. There will obviously be less storage, but the smoother experience may be worth it depending on how well the PS4 can respond to requests natively. Cloud storage and synching options would probably benefit from an SSD considering that they have 85% less latency than traditional hard drives. When your game saves and account data is associated with the cloud, it would probably be beneficial to minimize the wait time.

Sony is also pushing digital content for an easy way to start playing games without requiring a full install. The main criticism of digital only games is that the majority require a full install before any content can be played. Some gamers prefer buying the physical copy of a game simply because it takes less time to load.

Pulling the Ol' Switcheroo on Your PS4 -- PS4 Blu RayThe PlayStation 4 promises to stream content with a minimal amount of game data installed onto the hard drive, which essentially means a new release can be played almost instantly after being purchased. Of course, this would presumably depend on how generous your internet provider is with bandwidth and download speeds. The PS4 promises to gamer-friendly, but spotty internet connections will always have the horrible, horrible last word.

The PlayStation 4 can also download full segments of a game like single player or multiplayer exclusively while downloading the rest in the background as you play. This sounds like an excellent idea, especially for the hardcore Call of Duty fans who mainly play the multiplayer anyways without ever touching the single player campaign.

A third way to utilize the storage capacity of a 500GB hard drive would be to take Valve’s Steam approach to new digital content and release the game data with a lock mechanism. Gamers could take their leisurely time downloading the entire game throughout the week before release. Sony could then release an unlock code so gamers can have access to the game right away. Of course, if you’ve ever been on the waiting end of an unlock mechanism or even pre-loading game content, there are a host of problems with this approach like servers being overcapacity as thousands of gamers throttle the delivery speeds or crappy game code. No amount of patches will fix you Alien: Colonial Marines!

Blu-ray For the Yay
Speaking of bad game code, did I mention Alien: Colonial Marines or Alien: Colonial Marines? Alien: Colonial Marines was a horrible game. However, the PS4 does come with a faster tech version of Blu-ray that is three times faster than the PS3. This means the transfer of data from the disc will be much faster than the previous generation, which is complimentary to the digital downloads Sony is pushing. Assuming gamers still want to buy their games on physical media, you’re still going to have a fun time installing and playing your content.

The faster Blu-ray drive is admittedly not a major innovation and is more akin to evolutionary progress from the PS3, but the fact that the technology is faster and many times cheaper than the previous generation shows great strides in Sony’s commitment to the consumer. If you're looking for the fastest way to start playing a new release, it will depend on your internet connection. The faster your connection, the faster a game can download from the PSN. However, there is bandwidth concerns and server overload concerns that perhaps make physical copies still appealing to many consumers.

If you’re concerned about whether the Blu-ray drive will have DVD capabilities, the answer is yes. The current DVD speed on the PS4 is the now standard 8x CAV, which seems oddly decent considering most people don’t use the format anymore unless it’s to watch movies they own. Even PS3 games ran on Blu-ray disks because of the extra storage space for game content. But whatever, if you were worried the PS4 could no longer act as a DVD player, here’s your good news. For gamers, the now standard Blu-ray drive format will speed up the processing of game data to hopefully generate smoother gameplay experiences.

SSD or HDD?
When the PS4 launches this holiday season, most gamers will probably forgo an SSD because having data load or boot up faster isn’t a high priority. In addition to the $399.99 price tag for the PS4, you’re also looking at $59.99 for the PS Eye, $59.99 for an additional DualShock 4 controller (because you presumably have friends or siblings), and the games. The 500GB internal drive is plenty for the average consumer on launch day and it will be a challenge to fill it all the way up. Unless you plan on buying every day one release or have loads of porn to hide, the internal HDD will be good enough until the day you decide to get an SSD.

Article by - Collin Mak
Insert Date: 7/12/2013

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