When it comes to the PlayStation 4, you've got a few options if you're in the market.
You could buy the original:
The new, slimmer version of the original:
Or the similarly new, larger, more powerful PlayStation 4 "Pro":
That's a lot of PlayStations! Thankfully, you only need to know about two of them. That's because the original PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 4 Slim are the same console with different exteriors. One's a bit slimmer, a bit rounder, but they're identical on the inside. And that's what counts, right?
When it comes to the PS4 Pro, you're looking at a different beast altogether. It's more powerful than the other two PlayStation 4 consoles, yes, but the big selling point is being able to produce both games and movies in 4K.
You know 4K, right? That's the successor to high-definition in terms of resolution. It's the next step in making TV, movies, and games look better than ever.
There's only one downside: You need to own a 4K TV to take advantage of the higher resolution. And 4K TVs aren't cheap. You're looking at $800 to $1,000 at least — and that's on the low side of things.
Except, in the case of the PlayStation 4 Pro, even folks with standard high-def TV sets — most people — will get even prettier games than usual. There's a simple reason for that: Game developers can use the PlayStation 4 Pro's increased power for other stuff! What kind of other stuff?
"Depending on how the developer chooses to use the increased processing power, games with PS4 Pro support are able to render higher or more consistent framerates, increased environmental and character model detail, improved overall visual quality, and other related visual enhancements."
Simply put: The power can be used for other things, and many of those things have a major impact.
Being able to lock the framerate of a game — the number of image frames that a game is able to render per second — is really meaningful. Ever play a game and, when a lot of stuff is happening on the screen, the game slows down? That's because it's "dropping frames" — the hardware is having a hard time processing all the information on the screen, and so it compensates by pulling away processing horsepower from other stuff (like how many frames are being rendered on screen per second, for instance). With the PlayStation 4 Pro, there's more than enough power to go around.
But wait, there's more!
A variety of games on the PlayStation 4, pretty as they are, don't get rendered in 1080p — so-called "true" HD. Instead, they're slightly smaller (think: 900p). The PlayStation 4 "upscales" the games to 1080 instead of them being produced in 1080. Essentially, the image is stretched as a result.
Not on the PS4 Pro, though — it can take your close-to-but-not-quite HD game and make sure it's running in 1080p.
The PlayStation 4 Pro launches on November 10 and costs $400. It doesn't come with a 4K TV, sadly.