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Snag the PlayStation 5 while there's still supply (plus, how to improve your gaming sessions)
As stock shortages have subsided, it's now easier to pre-order or purchase the next-generation PlayStation 5. Here's why you should take the plunge, and tips and tricks to get the most out of your new gaming console.
Let's be honest: over the past few years, it has been a nightmare for most of us to purchase a PlayStation 5.
After being announced in 2019, everyone expected the system to follow the typical release process of a new flagship Sony gaming console: a pre-order barrage, some shipping delays, and some empty shelves in late 2020.
However, we've had a pandemic, chip shortages, natural disasters, economic disruption, and more since then -- and so eager gamers have had to wait en masse.
It was two years ago when the first PlayStation 5 consoles were delivered that bemused -- or infuriated -- customers found their consoles replaced with cat food, rice, and other items by sticky-fingered delivery drivers and depot workers. Still, as I refused to pay the steep prices demanded by eBay users (or scalpers, let's be honest), it's taken me two years to buy one in the UK -- and I still checked my package immediately to make sure it wasn't a box of Whiskas.
As of December, Sony has sold around 30 million PS5s. During CES, SIE President Jim Ryan said, "everyone who wants a PS5 should have a much easier time finding one at retailers globally," and while it is still difficult, it is not impossible.
Not a moment too soon, if my battered, elderly 2013 PlayStation 4 with stuttering issues and a broken disc drive is anything to go by.
The Sony PlayStation 5 inherited the flagship crown from the PlayStation 4, and as power goes, this gaming console far outstrips its predecessor. There are two options at the moment: a PlayStation 5 with a disc drive, or the digital-only PS5 Digital Edition. Specifications include:
CPU: 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
GPU: 10.28 teraflops, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
Optical drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray drive (not available on the PS5 Digital Edition)
Ray tracing support, 4K graphics, Tempest 3D AudioTech audio, DualSense wireless controllers
Sony lists the standard PS5 dimensions as approx. 390mm x 104mm x 260 mm, whereas the Digital Edition comes in at roughly 390mm x 92mm x 260 mm.
I'll warn you: it is an enormous and heavy piece of kit, with the PS5 coming in at 4.5kg and the Digital Edition slightly less at 3.9kg, neither of which includes the standing dock. You won't fit it easily under your streaming box or next to a TV on a cabinet. At the moment, mine is sitting on top of my media center, as it is far larger than my PS4 and retro consoles, such as my Nintendo 64.
However, there's no question that it is eye-catching, although, perhaps an eyesore to some. It reminds me more of gamer-focused tower PCs than the PS4 which is dull in comparison -- but I wish the side plates curved in as this would have improved the design and overall look.
The control pads have been upgraded, too. You are given one with the purchase of a PS5 although I would recommend purchasing a spare, so you can either play with friends or have one on charge via an included USB wire connection. After all, there's nothing worse than getting stuck into a gaming session and then having to wait for your controller to charge.
Sony's DualSense wireless controllers certainly suit the new look of the PlayStation and are far more comfortable in hand. Sony has included a built-in microphone -- although, I still prefer my headset -- and haptic feedback, which induces vibrations depending on environmental factors included in your game.
Another upgrade of note is what the tech giant calls "Adaptive triggers," described as "dynamic resistance which mimics the tension of interactions with in‑game gear and objects in select PS5 games." However, I'm not a fan. When you're trying to pull off fast combinations, I personally found that the resistance could cause my fingers to tire.
Despite a few reservations concerning the controller, the same cannot be said for the graphics. Simply put, they are stunning at 60fps. Some PS5 games support 120fps. Not every game is in this specialist library, although the list is growing and currently includes titles such as Borderlands 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
Keep in mind though, even if you have the console and a 120fps game, you will need to have a monitor or TV able to support this level of frames per second.
What are some tips and tricks for using your PlayStation 5?
Turn it off: Unlike the PS4 where you would hold down the control pad's PSX button to bring up the menu with power options, you only have to press the button once. I don't mind admitting that it took me far too long to realize. Holding the button brings up the games and media menus, whereas one tap brings you options including home, microphone, profile, and power.
Check your controller's power: For a quick check, just tap the middle PSX button and look at the bottom menu. The "Accessories" tab, which looks like a controller, has a useful battery level indicator. Furthermore, this tab can also be used to manage controller vibration intensity, trigger effect intensity, and more.
Games or media: The Games and Media tabs first appear on the top menu when you turn your PlayStation 5 on. Games will display your library, activity cards, and news, whereas Media will show you the apps you have downloaded, such as Crunchyroll, AppleTV, Spotify, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.
Game presets: In the Saved data and Game/App settings, you can select difficulty modes -- relying on a game's default or choosing presets from easiest to hardest. You can also select your preferred options for first-person and third-person camera panning; how to handle automatic updates, and both subtitles and audio presets. A useful option here is selecting performance or resolution under graphics settings.
Spoiler warnings: This is quite a fun addition to the PlayStation ecosystem. In the Saved data and Game/App settings menu, you can enable or disable "spoiler warnings," which will label or hide content that contains potential spoilers relating to PS5 games.
Privacy: If you go to Settings and then Users and Accounts, you can change your privacy settings. These include who can see you in search results, see your friends, and who is allowed to communicate with you.
Mute all audio: If you press and hold down your controller's microphone button, you can almost immediately mute all audio -- a handy feature if you need to take a call. Clicking it once will bring audio streams back.
Save energy: Under Settings, System, and then Power Saving, you can decide how to manage what Sony calls "rest mode" -- the amount of time that passes before your idle machine powers down to conserve energy. What you might not know, however, is that you can also choose how long the console will supply power to recharge your controllers via USB, and whether or not you want to keep an active Internet connection going (such as for downloading firmware updates). You can also choose to disable rest mode completely.
Turn off your controller remotely: If you are heading out, you can save controller power by holding down the central PSX button for around 8 to 10 seconds.
Can I stand my PlayStation 5 up vertically?
In January, rumors began to surface that using the PS5 stand to keep your gaming console vertical could cause damage due to a "design flaw" in the gaming console. The rumors quickly gained traction on Twitter and TikTok, with the idea spreading that even unboxed PS5s could be damaged. However, a misquote appears to be the core problem.
While it appears that liquid metal may be causing rare incidents of internal damage, there's no evidence to say whether choosing a vertical or horizontal position is better or worse. I personally keep mine vertical and so far, so good.
As we have said above, it still can be difficult to snap up a PlayStation 5 -- especially if you want the version with a disc drive -- but it is no longer close to impossible. There are a number of retailers you can try, including Sony directly, Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart, although prices vary, and you're more likely to have to opt for a more expensive bundle rather than the console alone. You can check the stock of US retailers below.
At the time of writing, the U.S. retailers below have PlayStation 5 consoles restocked. However, this may change at any time.
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