Official PlayStation 4 FAQ explains what the system can (and can't) do

Sony has built a reputation of releasing numerous updates to its PlayStation platform, and apparently that has carried over to PS4 news ahead of launch. If last week's updates weren't enough, the company posted a massive FAQ (yes, we read all 30 pages, including the list of launch titles) to the PlayStation Blog today, explaining a few details we weren't clear on. For starters, the PS4 can't stream media from your home network like its predecessor could. Sony's next-gen console also won't play MP3s or CDs, and the only way of using your own background music in-game is via Sony's Music Unlimited service. PlayStation's Head of Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida addressed concerns about this on Twitter, saying he'd share feedback with the PS4 dev team for future consideration (update: He's expanded on the statement, saying the team is "happy & appreciative to learn so many people use and like PS3's media features"). Whether you still like it or not, you're stuck with your old PSN ID too. Another "can't" relates to cached game data. If you rent Knack and a few weeks later want to buy a digital copy from the PSN Store, you can't simply grab an activation code to use with the data cached to your hard drive, you have to download the full game.

The tech giant also shed new light on a few audio-related aspects of the PS4. Out of the box, you'll be able to output all game audio through the DualShock 4's 3.5mm headset jack. However, it isn't until after the V1.5 Day One patch that "most" USB headsets will be usable with the system. The former likely means audio will be limited to stereo unless the controller is packing some sort of DSP on-board, while the latter presumably enables chat functionality for higher-end cans. We've reached out to Sony for clarification and will update this post if we hear back. Until then, keep the FAQ in an open browser tab -- Sony promised it will keep patching adding to it leading up to and after the PS4's launch.

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Microsoft Xbox One FAQ responds to alwayson DRM, used games rumors

One of the more contentious rumors surrounding next-gen consoles has been potential changes to DRM and while Microsoft hasn't answered all our questions when it comes to the Xbox One, it took a few head on. The official FAQ starts off with the "always-on" DRM issue and also addresses used games, indicating that the box is designed "so you can play games and watch Blu-ray movies and live TV if you lose your connection," and that it does not have to always be connected. That said, it still "requires" a connection to the internet, promising cloud-based benefits for gameplay and more. Other questions answer things like whether the new console will require more power (no) and will our Xbox Live Gold subscriptions still work with the new and old hardware (yes).

When it comes to used games, the FAQ's response is also promising, stating "We are designing Xbox One to enable customers to trade in and resell games." We can still find enough wiggle room in those responses to remain curious, but it appears we should be able to avoid a SimCity-style meltdown (with our new games, since the old ones won't work.)

Update: There have been many questions about a reported "small fee" for used games, but we've asked Microsoft and received no confirmation of that. Joystiq points out that the Wired article where the tidbit originated has been updated to mention Microsoft did not detail its plans for used games, while the Xbox Support Twitter account claims there are no fees and the article is incorrect.

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The slow-starting Google TV project has gotten a lot of attention at the last two Google I/O conferences, so what do the folks at Mountain View have up their sleeves this time around? Judging by recent updates to the Google Developers support pages, a major focus will be on helping third party devs create apps full of content, as well as control and information apps for mobiles or tablets. Recently the Anymote Android library for remote apps and related documentation was published, which the developer of the popular Able Remote app confirmed could assist devs in expanding upon Google's existing app, while subsequent additions to the FAQ library address HTML5 and more. On deck for Google I/O sessions are Bring Your App To The Big Screen, Get Your Content On Google TV and Command and Control in Your Living Room: Building Second Screen App for Google TV. Recently, apps like the one for Al Jazeera have been updated to bring more video to Google's platform, so with the rumored SDK (and HDTV) from Apple still missing in action, we'll wait and see if the third time's the charm for Google TV.

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Read enough horror stories lately to get you all scared about diving into the world of HDTV? Fret not, as Panasonic is reopening the phone lines to its toll-free Plasma Concierge service during the holidays. Usually, this line is reserved for those who already own a Panny PDP, but starting today, absolutely anyone can ring up the help line for a little one-on-one Q&A about flat panels. Reportedly, those on the other end will be happy to field any general / technical questions you may have, and unlike last year, the service will remain open until February 3, 2008 -- a full two months longer. Hit the read link for the digits, and be sure to grab some paper and a pen before you just start rattling off inquiries.

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While the question of hanging your new flat-panel above the fireplace or mantel has been around for years, it's about time the issue was actually tackled and looked at from a safety and feasibility standpoint. Admittedly, there are literally dozens of factors that can go into making said decision, and while no answer will be right for everyone, hopefully the following will lend a hand in easing your frantic mind. Granted, the more affluent homes that are often showcased in marketing promos make hanging a TV look like child's play, and while you may be able to cough up enough dough to let an experience installer come in and handle the dirty work for you, there's quite a few things (and alternatives) to consider. Of course, safety concerns surrounding recalled TV mounts, heat generated from a raging fireplace, and the actual wall material should be inspected first and foremost. Additionally, you should certainly consider just how difficult running every last cable (present and future) from your components below through the wall will actually (not) be, and for those working sans an AV cabinet, you might want to ponder just where you'll be placing those game consoles, receivers, and media players without ruining the overall allure. Still, there's no denying the attractiveness of a flat-panel HDTV hung neatly on a living room wall, but be sure and hit the links below and do a little planning of your own before pulling the trigger.

Read - HDInstallers - Safety Concerns
Read - Audio / Video Interiors mounting walkthrough

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Truthfully, it's quite sad that these top ten lists of HDTV myths keep popping up, as it just reinforces the sad truth that many folks are still mystified by the prospect of HDTV. Nevertheless, Popular Mechanics has doled out its own version of the woefully popular rundown, and making the cut are the ever popular tall-tales that an HD set-top-box is somehow required to receive any HD programming, a 1080p TV is unquestionably superior to a 720p counterpart, and that an HDTV will magically convert all programming to stunning high-definition. Additionally, we shed a tear just thinking of those who still believed that all flat-panels are indeed HD-ready and that pristine video quality is only channeled through stupendously overpriced cabling. A few newcomers to the list involved 1080p panels that actually can't accept 1080p signals from a scaling player, and the unbelief that HD video can't be recorded onto standard DVD-Rs. Of course, there's no shame in being duped by a unintelligible big box employee or just not being up to speed on the HDTV minutia, so take a few and hit the read link if you're looking to clear up any lingering HD haze.

[Photo courtesy of Chris Eckert/Studio D, thanks Matt]

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If your tiresome Black Friday campout left you incensed at that fellow ahead who snagged the very last HDTV that you had been eying, take heart. Panasonic feels your pain, and is opening up its exclusive help lines to help you deal with the hassles of searching for the perfect plasma. The company's Plasma Concierge service -- which opened earlier this year -- is stocking up on customer service representatives to field any questions you may have, regardless of whether or not you own a single Panasonic product. The program is open to the public through December 31st of this year to craft "customized flat screen profiles," determine which set would be better suited for your room, and even tips on mounting and wiring. So if you're befuddled over where to get some reliable, free information (aside from the site you're currently ogling) on which plasma to pick up this holiday season, give Panasonic a ring, but be sure to dodge those sure-to-come sales pitches while you're at it.

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We try our best here to answer every question our readers throw at us. But sometimes people just want to learn on their own,and boy do we have a great resource for you. eMediaLive has had a Blu-ray FAQ section on their site for sometime now, but they also, just added a HD DVD version of it a few weeks ago. If you every have any questions about ether format, like how HD the construction of HD DVD-ROM, -R, and -RAM are different, consult this guide. We really don't think that this should be called a Frequently Asked Questions though. Do you see the question "What is the BD-R/RE AV format" as a question that is asked too often? Although a valid question and this is a great list of answers, we think these FAQ's should really be called The Ultimate Blu-ray /HD DVD Information Location. Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

[Via HD-Insider]

Read - Blu-ray FAQ
Read - HD DVD FAQ

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