Hardware Reviews
PS4 vs Xbox One Comparison: Graphics, Specs, Differences

The Escapist Staff | 20 Nov 2013 00:00
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PlayStation 4 Second Screen

Along with the rest of the world, Sony has embraced the fact that many of us play games while also using our handheld devices like phones or tablets, not to mention the nifty PS Vita. The PlayStation 4 seeks to take advantage of this trend by allowing you to link your Vita with the new console to play remotely, as well as offering a PlayStation App for use in much the same way for Android and iOS devices. The remote play works amazingly well, but the PlayStation App could use an upgrade.

PS4 Console 05

Linking your Vita to the PS4 is not very difficult, but you have to be logged into the same PSN account on both devices and logged in to the same network (wireless or otherwise) for it to function. You can pop up the PS4 Link app on your Vita and either go to "Second Screen" or "Remote Play". Remote play essentially streams the PS4 gameplay to the Vita, with a different controls scheme to accommodate the back touchpad and lack of shoulder buttons on the handheld. As long as you have a decent connection to the wireless router, you can play next-gen games on your Vita up to forty or fifty feet away from your PS4. There's occasional lag at higher distances, but Need for Speed Rivals on the couch while your wife watches Scandal on cable is totally doable.

The second screen functions are very slim right now. You can operate the menus of the PS4, but the typing function (arguably the most useful when you are incessantly entering passwords when setting up your console and apps) doesn't work at all. Some games advertise second screen use, such as Assassin's Creed IV's treasure maps but it didn't work after multiple attempts and configurations.

The PlayStation App installed fine on Android phones, but many have reported bugs such as endless login loops. If you do get it working, the App can display your PSN stats and trophies, as well as messages, notifications, and so on. If you get it working ...

Xbox One Second Screen

The SmartGlass thing was announced at E3 2012, and it didn't really seem like that big of a deal. Since then though tablets and smartphones have become an even larger part of our entertainment smorgasbord, with even Microsoft's Surface entering the tablet market to a surprising lack of critics. The Xbox One SmartGlass apps for Android devices and Windows 8 have only been available for a few hours, but so far they show a deep integration with the new console.

Linking your device to the Xbox One is painless, as long as they both on the same network and your router allows devices to communicate with each other. You can use your tablet or phone as a controller, with swipes on various parts of the screen substituting for button presses and the keyboard function means you can use text chat without the need for a USB keyboard.

The app works well with all devices, and allows you to complete most of the functions of your controller necessary for simple viewing of videos or movies. It even allows you to snap in a much more effective manner than the controller or the voice commands.

dead rising smartglass

SmartGlass can also act as an app within an app with companions to individual games that provide a secondary experience to the game itself. Right now, the Dead Rising 3 companion is a robust offering that displays a map of the area, shows hints or tutorial information, and truly serves as a companion to Nick Ramos' adventures in Los Perdidos.

Microsoft has promised a lot concerning the SmartGlass, and our tests so far have been promising, but there are many features missing at press time. The deep integration with many games just hasn't arrived yet. Ryse is supposed to have a companion application to view strategies or achievements but it currently displays an image with the words "Coming Soon" on it. Movies in the Xbox video store such as Star Trek: Into Darkness boast of SmartGlass features like behind-the-scenes info and a minigame, but they are absent from the app right now.

Xbox One vs. PS4 Second Screen Comparison

Despite several missing features, the Xbox One's SmartGlass applications seem like a more well-designed interface than the PlayStation App. Smartglass wasn't designed to offer the remote play the Vita is able to do very well, but the second screen functions on the Vita aren't working at all and we're a few days into the PS4's launch. The edge has to go to Microsoft for a slick application that is able to impress even with features pending.

Second Screen Winner: Xbox One

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