Have you recently bought a Playstation 4 and are wondering how to make the most of your piano-black console?
Or perhaps you’ve had your PS4 for a while and want to make sure you’re not missing out on anything? Look no further. Assuming you’ve bought it to play games and aren’t planning on employing it as an admittedly stylish mug-rest, we have some handy hints to get you started.
1. Buy a bigger hard disk/drive
Unlike the Xbox One, you’re free to upgrade your Playstation 4’s internal hard drive; it’s incredibly easy to do so and won’t void your warranty. Regardless of what size hard drive your console came with, we’d recommend buying at least a 2T hard disk. Whether or not you’re going to be purchasing digital games, most titles install a sizable amount of data onto your PS4; The Witcher 3, for example, installs roughly 50GB of data.
When it comes to which drive to purchase, Western Digital are a generally reliable brand but any SATA 2.5 inch hard drive that is no thicker than 9.5mm will work. We’d recommend a hard drive with a speed of 5400RPM; you can get 7200RPM hard drives but we’ve always erred on the side of caution as the faster drives can potentially run hotter. Besides which, as reported by Eurogamer, the benefits of purchasing a faster hard drive or even a solid-state drive to use with a PS4 are negligible. However, don’t throw out your old hard drive. By purchasing a USB 3.0 hard drive caddy you can use the old drive with your PC or, should it come to it, as additional external storage for your PS4.
2. Use an Ethernet Cable
If your Playstation 4 is near your router, we’d recommend connecting it directly to your console using an Ethernet cable, also known as a networking cable. That’s not to say there’s anything necessarily wrong with the Playstation 4’s wireless capabilities, but a wired connection is generally faster and is far less likely to drop out and kick you out of the online game you’ve been playing. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on an Ethernet cable; you can pick one up for a couple of pounds or less – in fact, most pound/dollar stores stock them.
3. Tweak your TV
Make sure your Playstation 4 is plugged into a high-definition capable TV, using a standard HDMI capable. Again, there’s absolutely no reason to spend stupid money on an HDMI cable; in terms of quality, a £14.99 cable or even a £49.99 cable offers no benefit over a £1 HDMI cable. You can buy converters that will let you connect your console to your TV’s VGA or component inputs but you lose the ability to play Blu-Ray movies. Besides which, the picture quality over a component connection is generally inferior to HDMI. If you’re really short on HDMI sockets, purchase a splitter instead.
Once you’ve got your Playstation 4 connected to your TV (the console should auto-detect the best resolution), start playing with your TV’s settings. Your television will have a menu option that lets you change brightness, resolution, contrast and other features. You can buy Blu-Rays that advise you on how to get the most out of your display by helping you calibrate it. But personal preferences vary wildly and you’re better off loading up your favourite game and slowly raising and lowering the various settings on your TV till you’re happy with the picture.
4. Use your PS4’s media features
Don’t forget that your Playstation 4 can play Blu-Ray movies and DVDs, and while DVDs aren’t a high-definition format, the PS4 does an excellent job of upscaling them so that they look their best. You can also download a multitude apps including BBC iPlayer and All 4 (if you’re in the UK), allowing you to catch up on any TV you may have missed. And Spotify has a vast collection of music (as well as audiobooks) which can be listened to free, as long as you don’t mind the odd advert.
5. Spruce up your Playstation 4’s dashboard with a free dynamic theme
You can purchase all manner of themes from the Playstation Store, which give your boring old PS4 dashboard a face lift. But why bother, when there are some superb free ones, including dynamic themes which give your console even more pizzazz.
It’s not immediately obvious how to download themes since they’re squirreled away in the store’s “Add-Ons” section. But if you go into the Playstation Store, go to Add-Ons, Themes and then choose sort by “Price: Low to High” you’ll be shown all the free themes. The ones that say “Free” in yellow require a Playstation Plus subscription, but the rest are just plain free. You can download as many as you like and switch between them from the “Themes” option in your Playstation 4’s settings menu; we’re rather partial to Dishonored 2’s Karnaca theme.