- Xbox One S features an Ultra HD Blu-ray player
- PS4 Pro has to rely on streaming for 4K content
- Standard PS4 and Xbox One both limited to 1080p playback
Considering Sony's PS2 and PS3 consoles acted as early DVD and Blu-ray players respectively, so it's slightly surprising that the Xbox One S has been the first console to launch with an Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
Ultra HD Blu-rays are the latest and greatest disc format, and offer the best audio and video quality if you're looking to watch movies at home. The amount of discs available is slightly thin on the ground as it currently stands, but the situation is sure to improve in the future as the amount of 4K releases ramps up.
Of course, streaming is now the dominant way of consuming media at home, and both the Xbox One S and PS4 Pro are able to handle 4K streams from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. The limitations of streaming mean that the image quality won't quite be as good as physical media, but it's a much cheaper way to access 4K content.
We'll delve into more detail about the availability of apps for each console below.
Xbox One vs PS4 apps
- Very little to differentiate the two consoles in terms of apps.
One key difference between the consoles as they currently stand is access to 4K streaming services. While you'll have to opt for the more expensive PS4 Pro if you want 4K streaming services on a Sony console, both the Xbox One S and X can do 4K streaming.
In terms of the apps themselves, all next-gen gamers have access to Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Crackle, Vudu and Redbox Instant and baseball subscription service MLB.TV.
Xbox One corners the app-filled market with ESPN, Fox Now, FX Now, NFL, Ted, The CW, Twitch, Univision Deportes, Verizon FiOS TV and YouTube. It also has Microsoft's own soon-to-be-defunct Internet Explorer, OneDrive, Skype and Xbox Music and Xbox Video services.
That contrasts with PS4. Sony's console features Crunchyroll, Epix, NBA Game Time, NHL GameCenter Live, YuppTV, the WWE Network and the free music video playing app VidZone.
Initially, Xbox One had first access to HBO Go before PS4, but now both consoles have the premium channel as an app. At least, if your cable provider isn't Comcast. Neither system has HBO Now, which remains exclusive to Apple TV.
More niche apps are expected as time goes on, so this is hardly the final list of apps for Xbox One and PS4. Sony backers who are also HBO subscriptions can expect equal next-generation treatment for the the premium on-demand network "eventually," which just cements Xbox One's app-filled advantage.
Are PS4 and Xbox One backward compatible?
- Xbox One backwards compatibility list is growing.
- PS4 offers backwards compatibility through PS Now streaming service.
The Xbox One vs PS4 comparison got interesting at E3 2015. After teasing Xbox 360 emulation, Microsoft announced Xbox One backward compatibility for Xbox 360 games. This was expanded to original Xbox games at E3 2017.
"We won't charge you to play the games you already own," jabbed Microsoft at Sony during its E3 press conference. Over 100 disc and downloadable Xbox 360 titles will work on Xbox One this year, and the features of the newer console - like streaming and taking screenshots - crosses over to older games.
Microsoft launched Xbox One backward compatibility in November 2015 and a recent update saw its functionality expanded to include multi-disc games. Since then the manufacturer has continued to bring more and more games to the console.
Sony's PlayStation Now service, meanwhile, is a streaming service that costs money to rent games. That's a bummer if you already paid for The Last of Us, God of War: Ascension, Dead Space 3 and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes on the PS3.
It also relies on streaming, meaning that the quality of your gameplay experience will vary based on the speed of your internet connection.
Sony has expanded its video game streaming service to PS Vita, PC and PlayStation TV, and has even expanded it to include Sony and Samsung made TVs, and then include PlayStation and PS2 to the so far PS3-only lineup.
None of these options are foolproof yet. That means you'll need to keep your Xbox 360 and PS3 in order to play more niche games that haven't been made backwards compatible on Xbox One or haven't been added to PlayStation Now.
You can't sell the old systems, and that means people won't be able to readily buy them - they're more likely to purchase them directly from Microsoft and Sony.
Other PS4 and Xbox One differences
- Both consoles charge for online multiplayer.
- Other media player features offered by Xbox One.
The look of the console, the feel of the controller and the appeal of the games list are the main differences from which consumers will decide on PS4 and Xbox One. However, there are other factors at play one should consider before buying into a new system. At the top of that list is a significant question: Where do most of your friends play?
Since there's no such thing as cross-platform multiplayer between the two consoles, you may be split up when playing Call of Duty on PS4 when all of your friends own it for Xbox One.
Both Microsoft and Sony are charging for multiplayer this console generation, whereas PS3 gamers got to log into matches Scott-Free.
Sony sadly moved closer to Microsoft in this way, while Microsoft moved closer to Sony by tearing down the Xbox Live app paywall. You no longer have to subscribe to stream Netflix and other apps.
The PS4 vs Xbox One comparison has evolved in the last three years, mostly because Microsoft's plans have shifted, from Xbox One price drops to more lenient paywall policies to graphics specs upgrades.
These two next-generation consoles are now on a more even video game playing field, which means Sony and Microsoft are going to start throwing Uncharted 4 to Halo 5 Guardians at you, and that's a win for all gamers.