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E3 is right around the corner now, so countless leaks and rumors are starting to pop up in the world of gaming. It’s unlikely that we’ll see any major hardware announcements in LA this year, but a new iteration of the PS4 has just been confirmed by FCC certifications. This refresh looks like it only contains small changes, but it might actually be the first hint of a PS4 price drop.
Earlier this week, the FCC posted numerous documents relating to a new revision of the PS4. By far, the biggest news is the existence of a new 1TB model. In addition, the PSU is now rated for a lower wattage and amperage, and it weighs about half a pound less. This clearly points to a smaller, more efficient iteration on the existing internals.
Of course, lower power consumption isn’t going to move the needle in the marketing department, but being able to cut costs is a huge part of the console life cycle. The lower the manufacturing costs, the more profit potential your console has. And with lower overhead comes the inevitable price drop. If Sony is looking to goose the PS4’s adoption rate, a price drop is exactly what it needs.
After Microsoft dropped the Kinect requirement, and lowered the core Xbox One console down to $ 350, adoption jumped significantly. By all accounts, Sony is still well in the lead, but a strategic price drop in the near future could effectively cement the PS4 as this generation’s “winner.”
If Sony does plan on cutting the PS4’s price, here’s how I think it’ll go: The 1TB model will land at the existing $ 400 price point, and the 500GB model will be discounted to somewhere between $ 350 and $ 380. Both major consoles will eventually make it down to the $ 300 and $ 250 price points, but it’s still too early in the game for drops of that magnitude — especially since sales have been better than expected. After all, the minimalistic PS4 is a far cry from the overpriced behemoth that was the launch PS3 model.
Keep in mind, the hard drive upgrade itself is minor if you have even the most modest of DIY skills. It’s trivial to upgrade the PS4’s hard drive yourself, and I’ve been using a 1TB drive since day one. The only way this 1TB model will make waves is if it ushers in a price change.
As for Microsoft, we’re likely to see a slightly updated Xbox One controller, but don’t expect any major revisions coming out of Redmond in the immediate future. Remember, we’re only a year and a half into this generation. Meaningful consumer-facing hardware revamps take time.
Joel Hruska, ExtremeTech’s hardware expert, believes that there’s a chance Sony and Microsoft might actually skip past the 20nm process all together, and go directly for a 14nm or 16nm redesign down the road. It’s hard to tell exactly what the inevitable major redesigns will entail just yet, but it’s a safe bet that we won’t see Sony or Microsoft make a move until 2016 at the earliest.
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