What to expect from Sony and the rumored PlayStation 4 'Orbis'

In a matter of hours, Sony will make its big announcement, which many believe will introduce a next-generation PlayStation console. Here is some of the speculation about what the console would look like (and the likelihood of them being true).

What will the next Sony PlayStation look like?

While Sony never confirmed the subject of its announcement tonight in New York City, it has not stopped analysts and gamers from chasing rumors about the next PlayStation console. By now, it’s pretty much understood that the public is expecting a PlayStation 4.

What’s not as certain, however, is what the game console would offer. 4K resolution? A “share” button? A new controller? Here’s what’s being discussed:

The specs: The PS4 is predicted to feature 8GB of system memory, 2.2 GB of video memory, an Advanced Micro Devices Bulldozer eight-core processor, and an AMD R10XX GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), according to Gamespot. It may also include a Blu-ray drive and a 160 GB hard drive.

The specs have not been debated too much, aside from which AMD processor will be used and other minor details.

The name: What’s in a name? For Sony, a “PlayStation 4” could have less appeal. Japanese superstitions associate the number four with the word for death (shi), as they're pronounced the same. Some hotels and hospitals skip the number four, just as some American hotels may skip the 13th floor. Instead, the new console would likely go by its code name, Orbis (it more or less means circle in Latin).

Streaming games: The Wall Street Journal reported on Feb. 15 that Sony plans to offer technology to stream games for its next video-game console. Users would play games delivered to them online. The feature would not only keep costs lower for customers, but also enable them to play more complex games on their smart phones.

It would not come as a surprise if the new console included a streaming service. Sony acquired the cloud-based gaming service Gaikai in July for $380 million. It was known for streaming visually intense games for which players would normally need higher-quality personal computers or gaming consoles.

Kinect-like motion: Latest reports suggest that Sony’s new console will include or launch along with a “dual camera” that rivals Microsoft’s Kinect, as noted by Trusted Reviews. The feature would offer motion-based gaming options, as well as a selection of interactive system controls such as voice commands.

Sony has worked on motion-control gaming features before, NBC notes. After Nintendo released wand-like motion controls, Sony introduced a similar feature of its own, but with a more accurate controller for the PlayStation 3: the PlayStation Move. For those unfamiliar with the feature, PlayStation move offers a more realistic and immersive gaming experience 

A new controller: Until recently, rumors suggested that the new console’s controller would include a “Share” button, where gamers would take clips from their game play and post it online. (Your Facebook friends would find videos of your best takedowns or favorite levels on their newsfeed instead of Farmville stats.

VG247, however, reported that the controller would not have share capability.

Leaked photos show controllers with no share button, as reported by PC Magazine. As of now, it’s likely that the new controller would have better Move capability (one photo shows a bright blue light across the top of the controller, hinting at Move capability). But the controller is expected to keep the traditional DualShock structure.

4K resolution: Gamers have wondered whether the new PlayStation will boost its graphic experience with 4K resolution (four times as many pixels as a 1080p HD TV). The reports emerged as early as last August, after Sony announced that it would release LED TVs with 4K resolution. Jonathan Geller of BGR reported that Sony's new TV set is expected to be the start of a larger push for 4K, with Blu-ray players and the next-generation PlayStation console.

Now Gamer claimed in January that a Sony insider confirmed that the new console would use 4K technology.

The price: The PlayStation 3 started out between $499 and $599. Despite requests for a much cheaper game console, Sony is expected to have a similar price range for the new console. Kotaku reported that an anonymous source gave a price range of $429 and $529 for the PlayStation 4.

CNN Money recommended that Sony aim low with its price tag, arguing that "a video game console over $200 is asking a lot of consumers — in much and more cases, too much." These speculations are far from the $200 budget suggested, but it’s also hard to imagine a video game console with new features that would sell for that little.

Blocking used games: One rumor that does not seem to hold up is the idea that Sony will put an end to used games with the new console. Sony has patented technology that would block used games from playing on a system other than the original owner’s out of concern that game developers are not getting any of the profit that's made in used game sales.

The chances of Sony implementing this on the new console are slim, however. Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter told CNET that Sony would not benefit much from a blockade against used games: “Sony would be materially hurt if its console blocked used games and competitor consoles from Microsoft and Nintendo did not.”

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