The main reason why I had never been interested in the PS3, and why it took me so long to get interested in the PS4 was because they had no games that appealed to me. The PS3 and the PS4's main strengths seem to be games for hardcore gamers, action-packed games with stunning graphics. Mainly shooting, war, and football games, which aren't my cup of tea (I prefer quieter games like turn-based RPGs). However, some JRPGs (Japanese RPGs) of my interest are coming to the PS4, especially Persona 5, RED ASH, and Final Fantasy VII Remake. So, I finally decided that I'd buy a PS4.

After many months of waiting and comparing prices, and then learning that the PS4 Slim would be released, thus having to wait even longer, I finally got my PS4! (as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait :P ) Actually, I was going to wait a bit more, but the US elections results made the US Dollar rates against the Brazilian Real rise like crazy, and because games are mostly imported here in Brazil, prices only tend to go up. So, I decided it was now or... well, I wouldn't say, "never," but who knows when prices would return to acceptable values ​​if I were to wait more.

I opted for the PS4 Slim because, according to my researches, it is quieter and consumes less power, and the battery of the (wireless) controller's new revision that comes with it also lasts longer.

Here are some tips and observations that I gathered during my researches and tests, as well as my impressions on the console.

Installation

Installation was quite easy. Only two wires to connect: the AC cord and an HDMI cable. And since the controller is wireless, it also eliminates the problem of tripping on controller wires on the living room floor like it happened with my PS2.

Turning the Console On//Off, and Standby

It's possible to turn the console on and off, or put it on standby either manually through the Power button (obviously) or from the menu options. One thing I found interesting is that if you turn it off manually from the Power button, the console makes a sound to indicate it turned off. After holding down the button for a few seconds, it'll beep once and indicate it's on standby. If you keep holding the button (for around 15 seconds), when the PS4 gives the second beep, it means that it was turned off. For those who are visually impaired like me and can't see the PS4's light to tell whether it's on or not, this is very handy.

Speaking of the button, according to my research, the Power button on the old PS4 was digital (it wasn't a physical button that could be pressed. It was like a sensor that made the console turn on and off by detecting the finger's touch). However, on the Slim it is a physical button, which I believe is a better option for the visually impaired (much better to feel the button by touch).

Initial Configuration

With the console turned on, the controller recognized and the system language selected, right away the PS4 has you configure the internet connection, and date and time. Since my visual impairment doesn't allow me to read the options, I needed visual help (obviously).

When configuring the internet connection, I don't know why the PS4 didn't find my Wi-Fi access point. I had to specify the settings manually, but the internet worked without complaints afterwards.

The date and time were already correct, and I didn't even have to change anything. I just needed to confirm the timezone. I don't know if the PS4 detected my timezone by IP or something, but the cursor was already on the correct option.

And as if to confirm that the internet configuration was working, the PS4 already alerted me that a firmware update to version 4.06 was available, which it downloaded in a blink of an eye :D .

PlayStation Network (PSN)

After the update, the PS4 rebooted, went online and prompted me to configure my access to the PSN (PlayStation Network). I already had a PSN account that I had created a few years ago by accessing the PlayStation Store website from my computer, so I just input my login and password.

For the sake of convenience and accessibility (since my screen reader software reads the website's content aloud to me from the computer), I find it much easier to purchase PSN content by going to the site from my computer rather than struggling with the PS4's interface to the store. From the website, I could even get a PS4 theme even before my PS4 arrived!

I wanted to use the PS4 to download the items I got from the site, but I didn't find any relevant option on the console's interface to the store. After looking the issue up on the internet, I learned that I needed to leave the PS4 turned on and connected to the PSN, log in to the website from my computer, go to the download list and choose the option to download to the PS4 for each item, then the download should start on the PS4 normally.

Don't Connect to the Internet Automatically

As soon as the PS4 turns on, it attempts to connect to the internet automatically by default. But for now I don't have many reasons to go online and don't want this behavior (I'm one of those people who prefer to play offline). I just want it to go online when I tell it to! In this generation where everything revolves around social networks, communities, Internet of Things and having everything connected to the internet the whole time, I was worried that the PS4 wouldn't let me go offline, or that it might disconnect temporarily but connect again automatically every time the system starts. Fortunately it doesn't work this way. The matter is actually quite easy to solve. The solution is in "Settings" > "Network" > "Connect to the Internet". Checking this option, the PS4 connects to the internet. Unchecking the option, it disconnects. Simple as that. And if you uncheck the option before turning the PS4 off, the option will remain unchecked the next time you turn it on, and the PS4 won't attempt to connect automatically. Problem solved.

Noise

I can't judge this yet because I don't know what the acceptable noise standards are. I've read that the previous PS4 models were quite noisy, but I've never had experience with other PS4 models, and don't know how much this "noisy" amounts to. I still haven't had any situation that demanded much of my PS4 Slim, and it's been very quiet so far. But there's one thing I can say. It's much quieter than my old PS2, that's for sure.

Accessibility

The PS4 has an option I didn't expect to find. It's in "Settings" > "Accessibility." That's right, accessibility! The options in there include remapping the controller's buttons, contrast settings, and other things. And among the "other things," there's a "text to speech" option, which makes the PS4 read the menus aloud. In other words, the PS4 has a screen reader! However, sadly, the feature is only available with the system language set to English, and only works in the settings menus (it doesn't work for other apps like the internet browser, which is a shame). Even so, knowing that the feature exists was a pleasant surprise.

Extending the Controller's Battery Life

During my researches, I heard that the DualShock 4 controller's battery doesn't last long. Apparently, the battery in the new model that comes with the PS4 Slim lasts longer, but I'm sure the tips below are still valid.

In "Settings" > "Devices" > "Controllers:"

  • "Volume Control:" turn down the volume of the controller's internal speaker.

  • Uncheck the "Enable vibration" option (I never liked to have the controler vibrate anyway, so this is a welcome measure to me).

  • "Brightness:" set it to the lowest setting, since it's not possible to turn it off.

One more thing that can be done that doesn't involve any setting is actually turning the controller off when the PS4 is on but you aren't using the controller (for example, when you're watching videos). For this, just hold the PS button for around ten seconds.

Saving Screenshots and Videos to Disk

The PS4 can capture screenshots and gameplay videos, and upload them to sites like YouTube and social networks. It can also save them to the internal hard drive instead of uploading, then the images and videos can be copied to an USB stick or external drive and edited on the computer.

To save screenshots:

First, go to "Settings" > "Sharing and Broadcasts" > "SHARE Button Control Type" to see how the Share button behavior is configured. The default is that a normal press makes the share menu appear, and that a long press takes a screenshot. In this case, to save a screenshot just hold the Share button for a second or so during gameplay.

To record videos:

The PS4 automatically records videos during gameplay, and these videos can be uploaded or saved to the internal hard drive. Since firmware version 4.0, videos up to 60 minutes can be recorded (in previous firmware versions, the maximum duration was only 15 minutes). For better control of what is to be recorded, recording can be started and stopped manually. Shortcut: double tap the Share button to start recording, then tap it once when you want to stop recording. Wait for the share menu with a video preview to appear, then press square to save it to disk.

The taken screenshots and videos can be viewed by going to "Library" > "Applications" > "Capture Gallery." To copy the files to an USB device, plug the device into the PS4's USB port, press the Options button and choose to copy the files.

Back Up Save Data to a USB Stick

There's the option to back up saves and other files to the cloud (back them up online to Sony's servers), but it's a feature only for subscribers of the PlayStation Plus service (a paid subscription that gives discounts in the PlayStation Store, and even gives out games for free for subscribers. It's also mandatory to be able to participate in online multiplayer for most games). Aside from not being a subscriber, I don't like online backups (I prefer to do my own backups manually). Fortunately for me, there is also the option of backing up saves and other files in the PS4's hard drive to an external hard drive or USB stick (it doesn't copy trophy data, but trophies are saved to PSN and can be restored later). The backup option is under "Settings" > "Application Saved Data Management" > "Storage" > "Copy to USB storage device."

Conclusion

Before, I had been worried that buying the PS4 might not be worth it for me, because of my disinterest for the styles of games the PS4 is most famous for. I was also concerned about the offline issue, since one of the console's most prominent strengths seems to be online multiplayer (or at least it's the most common subject that comes up whenever I hear people talking about the PS4). But the offline option exists, and there are also simple and less well-known games on PSN that caught my attention (this alone already makes my PS4 game library bigger than my library on the 3DS, where the only games I have are the Pokemon games :P ). Other than that, I've already gotten another use for my PS4: playing videos (it's much better to watch videos on the big television screen than on my computer). I downloaded the media player (to play videos from an USB stick) and the app for Crunchyroll (a streaming service that streams anime legally and has a free option).

Overall, I liked the PS4 more than I expected I would, and believe it'll serve me well.

Sources of Info in My Researches

Here are links to the pages from where I learned most of the above configuration tips: