PS4 and Limitations

PS4 Remote Play for Windows and OS X

Without a desktop operating system to support and defend, Sony addresses PlayStation 4 streaming quite a bit differently from Microsoft. While Microsoft beat Sony when it comes to console streaming on the PC, the PlayStation Remote Play feature itself isn't new. Remote Play on Sony's consoles dates back to late 2006, with the then-new PS3 able to stream the video output of certain games to a locally networked PlayStation Portable handheld. Over the years, the feature has expanded to support game streaming from the PS3 and PS4 to a wider array of devices, including the PlayStation Vita, PlayStation TV, select Sony Xperia smartphones and tablets, and culminating with support for PCs and Macs in April 2016.

To get started with PS4 Remote Play to your PC or Mac, you'll first need to update your console to at least firmware version 3.50. Next, head to your PC (running Windows 8.1 or later) or Mac (running OS X Yosemite or later) and download the required Remote Play app. You'll also need to connect a DualShock 4 controller to your PC via USB. Wireless Bluetooth connections are not currently supported.

After installation, launch the PS4 Remote Play app and log in with the same PlayStation account that is associated with your console. The app will then attempt to locate your PS4 via the network automatically. If the app can't find your console, you have the option of connecting manually via a code generated by the PS4 (Settings > Remote Play Connection Settings > Add Device).

Once your PS4 console is found, the app will negotiate a connection and then display the video stream from the console. By default, the result won't be pretty. The current default quality setting for PS4 Remote Play is 540p at 30 frames per second, an abysmal quality level for PC gamers accustomed to at least double that resolution.

The good news is that higher quality levels are available, but the bad news is that those quality levels currently max out at 720p/60fps. Still, if you're connecting to your PS4 via a fast home network, be sure to increase the quality settings before embarking on a gaming session. To do so, you'll need to first end your current stream and then click the Settings button on the initial Remote Play app screen (for Mac users, head to PS4 Remote Play > Preferences from the Menu Bar before starting a stream).

Resolution options are self-explanatory at High (720p), Standard (540p), and Low (360p). For the frame rate, "High" is 60fps and "Standard" is 30fps.

While connected to your PS4's stream, the interaction with the console is similar to that of the Xbox One, described earlier. Streaming users take full control of the console and can navigate the main menu, browse the store, and launch apps and games.

To assist with navigation, users can move their mouse to the bottom of the screen to reveal virtual buttons for Share, Option, and PlayStation, but all other interaction must be performed via the DualShock 4 controller.

One key advantage that PS4 Remote Play has over the Xbox side of things is the ability to stream outside of your local network. We recommend making the initial connection to your console at home (in case you need to perform a manual connection), but once your console is paired with your PS4 Remote Play app on your PC or Mac, you can take your device on the road and still enjoy virtually in-person access to your home console. Keep in mind, however, that like all streaming services, your experience (outside of your home, especially) will depend on the speed and quality of your home Internet connection.

When you're done streaming, just like the Xbox, you'll need to hold the PlayStation button on your controller to turn off your console. If you simply close the Remote Play app, your console will remain powered on and in the same app or screen that you left it.

Limitations & Caveats

Both PS4 Remote Play and Xbox One Streaming in Windows 10 share some limitations that are important to mention. First, while both platforms attempt to simulate an "in-person" experience, users are prohibited from streaming certain content remotely, such as apps that display commercial video content.

On both the Xbox One and PS4, users cannot stream the built-in Blu-ray Player app, subscription video apps such as Netflix and Amazon Video, or purchased video content from the consoles' respective digital stores.

Users are more limited on the PS4, where virtually all video apps are blocked from streaming while some apps such as Plex and NHL.tv work fine on the Xbox One.

Another issue is that remotely connecting to either console, even with the same user profile, can occasionally trigger warnings that the "user has signed out," or something similar. This is typically fine, and results only in being dumped to the consoles' home screens or the title screen of the currently running app, but it can cause you to lose unsaved game progress if you had previously left a game while relying on either console's "resume" feature. Therefore, if you're planning to quit in the middle of a game while streaming, be sure to manually save your progress.

Finally, there's our old friends, input lag and latency. Even on the fastest home networks, be prepared to experience some level of lag between your input on the controller and the reaction of your console. The lag and latency aren't as bad as they used to be with the first generation game streaming services, but even Valve hasn't been able to completely solve this challenge yet.

Most games are certainly still playable and enjoyable after a slight adjustment to the latency, but you'll probably want to avoid playing any "twitch" or competitive multiplayer games via Xbox One Streaming or PS4 Remote Play.

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