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With the release of the PlayStation 4, the DualShock, Sony’s traditional console controller, has also undergone a makeover. It has the best grip, has gained an indicator light on the back, a share button, and a headset port. With all this, gaming on the DualShock 4 (Check on Amazon.com) is way better than on the DS3.
Sony DualShock 4 – Design
The DualShock 4 controller is surprisingly bigger and heavier than the DS3. It measures 162×52×98mm and weighs 210g. Its predecessor was slightly smaller: 160×97×55mm and lighter with 192 grams. However, this difference goes unnoticed during play.
The design of the DualShock 4 is very solid, and visually parts ways somewhat with the previous versions. It looks bigger, bolder, and more comfortable. It is indeed way more ergonomic, making it so much easier to hold.
In hand, the two “horns” of the controller insert themselves very naturally in the hollow of the palms, and the fingers tighten around the pad effortlessly.
The controller is wider than the previous one, and the analog sticks are spaced apart by a few millimeters. This results in much less stress during long gaming sessions, since the thumbs can lean effortlessly on the tip of the sticks, remaining stretched and not contracted.
One of its highlights is the indicator light on the back, which can change color according to the application you use. The R1, L1, R2, and L2 buttons are more compact. The headset port is located in the bottom, towards the user and the touchpad is in the top center of the gamepad.
A little lower than the touchpad, at the center of the sticks, there is a (discreet) quality mono speaker, which is used by certain games to increase the immersiveness, reproducing audio files or particular effects.
In addition, this controller features a Share button in the upper left corner and an Options button in the upper right corner of the touchpad.
Last but not least the micro USB port is on the rear – near the indicator light.
Sony DualShock 4 – Controls
Wave goodbye to Start and Select. These traditional buttons on PlayStation controllers are not present on the DS4. They have been replaced by Options, which can pause games, select options, and expand options menus within the console’s dashboard.
The other big difference is the new Share button. By tapping it, the user can share videos and photos of their game on Facebook or Twitter in just a few quick steps.
The positioning of the buttons is thoroughly thought out. It will be hard to get used to Options early on. After all, Start and Select were a staple on DS gamepads for many years and now they are gone. Thankfully, over time you get used to it.
Their soft rubber surface but above all the thicker edge determine a safer grip; they are more rigid, which is a good thing since it makes them more precise.
The D-pad, which was excellent on the DS3, is even better now, feeling even more precise when pressed.
The plastic is finally less slippery, and the increased convexity facilitates the placement of the fingers. The triggers are more rigid which also means more precise.
The shoulder buttons are well placed and easily pressed, unlike those on the Xbox One controller, which is perhaps its most obvious weakness.
This is also a brand new feature that changes function with each game. Using it is quite simple, given that you just have to tap on it to activate the corresponding functions. Sensitivity is good, and the touchpad easily recognizes the directionality of the gestures. The touchpad can also be pressed and functions as an extra button. The important thing here is that it can create several interesting possibilities within the games that support it.
Sony DualShock 4 – Compatibility
On PlayStation 4, all the functions are obviously plug-and-play.
On PC, finally, Steam has opened its doors to the DualShock 4 and welcomes it as one of its official peripherals, without the need for additional drivers, and both wired and wireless connectivity. The light bar and the headphone port remain useless (as on all Bluetooth controllers), but all other functions are perfectly usable and configurable.
If, on the other hand, you wish to use it with Windows without the Steam client, you will need to install an unofficial driver such as DS4Windows, which will “transform” the DS4 to an Xbox 360 controller, for maximum compatibility, losing however most special functions such as motion detection, vibration, and touchpad.
Sony DualShock 4 – Verdict
The DualShock 4 (Check on Amazon.com) is the best controller ever made by Sony. Despite being bigger and heavier than its predecessor, comfort isn’t an issue, on the contrary… it offers a better grip, maybe the best grip there is, solid ergonomics and excellent controls. All in all a valid alternative to Microsoft’s counterpart.