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Sony’s PS4 Will Lack Key Media Features at Launch

Posted by Jim Tanous on October 31, 2013

The Xbox One certainly had a rough start to the next generation console war. Beset with controversy over DRM, the loss of key executives, and concerns over the console’s performance, it looked like Sony’s PlayStation 4 was poised to be the clear leader out of the gate. But Sony’s advantage, one they were quick to embrace, became a bit less clear this week, and it looks like it’s the Japanese firm’s turn to take some heat from consumers.

A new FAQ released this week revealed that the PS4 will be missing several key features when it launches next month. Some features just aren’t ready for the launch and will be added in the future via software updates; others are gone forever.

First up in the “gone forever” category is external hard drive support. Sony confirmed Wednesday that the PS4 won’t let users store game data or digital media purchases to a USB-connected external drive, limiting users to the included 500GB internal drive. However, users will be able to swap out that internal drive, provided the replacement has a capacity of at least 160GB, a rotational speed of equal to or greater than 5400 RPM, support for SATA II or higher, and a maximum thickness of 9.5mm. Sony’s stance on this issue is the opposite of rival Microsoft, which will let users store data on external drives but won’t provide an easy path for the upgrade of the internal drive.

Another feature lost for good is DLNA support, meaning that PS4 owners won’t be able to access and stream media from their own home servers, as they can do today on the PS3. Sony’s unstated reason for killing the feature is that the company wants users buying and downloading movies and music from its own PlayStation Store, not streaming content for free from home servers. While it’s not something that most mainstream PS4 buyers will miss, many dedicated home server fans with software like Plex are crying foul.

Here’s a strange one: the PS4 won’t support audio CDs or user MP3s, making it the first non-Nintendo console in well over a decade to eschew the feature. The company doesn’t give a reason on why users can’t listen to their own music on the device, although it happily points consumers to its own paid music subscription service.

Finally, although both Sony and Microsoft are touting gameplay video sharing as an important feature of the upcoming console generation, Sony revealed that users will only be able to share captured video via Facebook, and live streams via Ustream or Twitch, omitting YouTube. Unlike the other features above which are likely gone for good, however, this one may change. The company admitted that support for other video streaming services is in the works, but wouldn’t mention specific services or timeframes.

The PlayStation 4 launches in North America on Friday, November 15th and in Europe two weeks later, the 29th. The Xbox One lands worldwide in between these dates, on November 22nd.

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