PlayStation 4 console announced -- but what about the actual console? [UPDATED]

Console design, price and release date still murky, but launch titles and development partners confirmed

Sony has announced its next generation home gaming console, the PlayStation 4, to huge fanfare at an event in New York City. Sort of.

Update: Sony has announced the offical specs for the PlayStation 4 — see the bottom of this article. Original article continues.

The console itself wasn’t shown at the event, and no pricing or release date information was shared to the information-hungry crowd of journalists or millions of viewers watching Sony’s live-stream video. The lack of a physical console reveal has left plenty of viewers slightly miffed, after a demonstration that showed everything but the box itself.

The two-hour long demonstration revealed plenty of other information, though. The new console will be largely based upon the same hardware architecture that current PCs are built with — an x86-based processor, and a graphics processor similar to a PC’s with around 2 teraflops of number-crunching power.

“magical experiences that can only be found in our world...”

The manufacturing partners for any of the PS4’s hardware weren’t announced, but it’s widely expected that the new console will use a low-power, eight-core CPU from AMD and accompanying Radeon GPU. 8GB of unified memory — shared between CPU and GPU — is a big step up from the current generation of consoles. No information about the PS4’s “local hard drive” was shared — whether it will be solid-state or mechanical is still unknown.

A big feature touted was interconnectivity between the PS4 and Sony's PS Vita handheld gaming console, as well as other Sony devices like tablets and smartphones. the PS Vita should be able to play all PS4 games remotely through GaiKai's cloud gaming service.

Sony's new console has a huge emphasis on social gaming, sharing and other interpersonal interaction. Sony's presentation, replete with buzzwords, claimed “the living room is no longer the centre of the living room - the gamer is”, and that the hardware experience would be “simple and adaptive with socially enriched content”.

Whatever this means, it's likely that gamers will be strongly encouraged to add their friends to their PlayStation Network accounts, and constantly share information including purchases and achievements. Not doing so will probably severely limit the social aspect that Sony is pushing so hard to promote.

A new DualShock 4 controller was the only new hardware Sony showed off during the presentation. It’s identical to the leaked controller image that has been widely circulated around gaming websites in the past few days — largely similar to Sony’s existing, tried-and-tested DualShock 3 controller for the PS3, but with a touchpad and Share button. The controller will be paired with a Kinect-esque stereo video camera that will allow various motion control enhancements.

The new console will launch with the requisite suite of triple-A games like Killzone and Bungie’s Destiny, as well as new titles like Drive Club, but will also reportedly make it easier for independent developers to publish on the PlayStation Store — an area of gaming that has seen huge success in recent years with the rise of the Apple App Store, Steam and Xbox Live Arcade. Sony’s indie game guru Nick Suttner has invited developers to start the self-publishing process on various Sony gaming platforms.

That’s all we know for now — and it’ll be a while until more information comes to light. No pricing information, even for the US or for Japan, was mentioned, and the vaguest possible release date of “Holiday 2013” was shown on-screen as the event ended.

Update: Sony has released a spec sheet for the next-generation PlayStation 4:

• Single-chip custom processor - CPU uses eight x86-64 AMD Jaguar CPU cores, GPU uses 1.84 TFLOPS next-gen AMD Radeon graphics chip
• 8GB GDDR5 unified memory
• Built-in hard disk drive
• 6x Blu-Ray drive, 8x DVD support
• USB 3.0 port, auxiliary port
• Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1
• HDMI, analog (composite) AV-out, optical S/PDIF audio out

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