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Sony announces PlayStation 4, touts speed and social but media vision unclear

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A lot has changed since Sony (s sne) last announced an update to its video game console in 2006. Since that time, the era of discs and cartridges has receded and consumers have entered a world of cloud and mobile computing. Meanwhile, the PlayStation has lost ground to Nintendo and Xbox while Sony’s one-time dominance in electronics has long faded.

On Wednesday in New York, Sony announced the PlayStation 4, which comes with souped-up hardware that the company says will virtually eliminate the time video game players must wait for their games to load. The company also touted a new “share” button on its controller that will let players capture video clips, not just screenshots, of their game play to send to friends.

During a presentation heavy with video game demos, Sony also touted its Vita portable device as the vanguard of mobile play. An executive explained how a player, bumped by others from the living room big screen, can immediately continue his game on the handheld Vita — a tablet experience of sorts.

Reaction by video game fans on Twitter and live blogs at Wired and the Verge was underwhelming. This included disappointment that the new PlayStation 4 would not include backwards compatibility via streaming with earlier PlayStation games.

Perhaps surprisingly, Sony spent little time addressing the role of consoles like the PlayStation as an onramp to the larger world of media. In this context, the PlayStation is just one of a growing number of devices — including Roku, Boxee, Apple TV(i aapl) and (soon) Intel — that link consumers to movies, music and more.

A Sony executive did note that the PlayStation was the most popular device for accessing NetFlix. But the company didn’t devote time to expounding a larger media vision such as that of Microsoft’s(s msft) entertainment and digital media president who, at a recent media event, announced the company is producing its own interactive TV shows.

Sony did not announce a price or even display the console itself during the two-hour long event, but did announce in closing that the device will be available around “holiday 2013,” presumably in time for the November/December shopping season.

5 Responses to “Sony announces PlayStation 4, touts speed and social but media vision unclear”

  1. Thomas Ella

    How much did they need to say about media stuff though, really? They showed all the logos, and as someone who owns a PS3 already, I was like, “OK, they’re supporting all the same stuff. Cool.” I guess it’s more nebulous if you don’t already have a PS3, but I feel like, at this point, seeing a Netflix logo means, “You can play movies from Netflix. Do we really need to expand on that?”

    They just wanted to concentrate on the vision of the console, show some developer support, and demonstrate a handful of cool looking games. It was a smart, focused presentation. To me at least.

    • Xbox is already moving towards a model that wraps cable box / DVR functionality into the new version. Its silly to have something so powerful and not try to make it the all in one device that it can be.

  2. The promise to let Microsoft go first still stand, because frankly, nothing knew were shown beside games that were already expected to be on the PS4 anyway. #WorseProductShow ever!

  3. The big letdown was not to hear more about cloud gaming. It’s such a big opportunity for anyone that can find a viable way to market it but it looked like Sony is just not ready yet ,maybe there will be a lot more by the time PS4 launches.