Automotive pioneer Henry Ford famously joked that any customer could order a car painted any color "as long as it is black." The same will be true of Sony's forthcoming PlayStation 4 video game console – "Jet Black" being the only color option at launch – but it seems the new device will come with plenty of other limitations, besides.
Sony has positioned its latest console against its arch rival, Microsoft's Xbox One, by claiming it wouldn't place as many restrictions on how customers play games as Redmond's product will. But according to a new FAQ published on the official PlayStation blog on Thursday, there are still lots of things you won't be able to do with a PS4, some of which you probably weren't expecting.
Just for starters, the PS4 is really designed for digital displays, so don't expect to plug it into that old CRT clunker in the basement. It has no analog output ports – just HDMI and optical audio out – and the lowest screen resolution it supports is 480p.
If you've had your eyes on an ultra-high-def 4K TV set, though, you'll still be out of luck. Sony says support for 4K gaming is "under consideration" but it has nothing more to say about it at this time.
Games that take advantage of 3D TV sets, on the other hand, are technically supported. But nobody has made any such games so far, and there won't be any 3D-capable games available at launch, so don't hold your breath for that, either.
Sony's latest PlayStation is versatile, but it can't do everything
The PS4 comes with a built-in 500GB hard drive, and you will actually be able to swap it out for a bigger one if you choose – provided, that is, that it's a SATA II drive that's no more than 9.5mm thick. But if you were thinking of adding additional storage space via USB, forget it; external drives of any kind are not supported.
If you were thinking of picking up a PS4 as a general-purpose media device, you might want to think again, too. Sony hasn't done you any favors as far as making the PS4 the center of your digital living room.
OK, so maybe you didn't expect the PS4 to be able to stream content from your computer via DLNA (it can't). But did you expect it not to be able to play MP3s at all? Because it can't do that either.
It can play DVDs and Blu-Ray movies, but only after you download a massive 300MB software update and activate the video-playing capability over the internet. Or, because Sony is really serious about not requiring an internet connection for its latest console, you can call a toll-free number and have an activation disc sent to you by mail – just don't plan on watching any movies on Christmas Day.
Also, don't plan on playing any audio CDs. Ever. While the PS4's optical drive supports DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, it unequivocally cannot read audio CDs – the first time this hack has ever heard of an optical drive with this limitation.
That's probably because what Sony really wants you to do is join its Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited cloud services, which will launch at the same time the PlayStation 4 is released. Video Unlimited promises new movies before they're released on DVD and Blu-Ray. Music Unlimited – well, it lets you stream the songs from the CDs that the PS4 doesn't allow you to play.
But it's really all about the games, isn't it? Which in this case means PS4 games exclusively, because the PS4 doesn't support any PS3, PS2, or PSOne games. What's more, unlike all of those earlier consoles, all PS4 games will come on Blu-Ray.
Your PS4 has no love for most of your PS3 doodads
You won't be able to use most of your PS3 peripherals with the new console, either. The DualShock 3 controller and the PS3 Blu-Ray remote are explicitly not supported. Neither are most third-party controllers other than the PlayStation Move. Any Bluetooth headsets "that are currently commercially available" won't work. Bluetooth and USB keyboards will mostly work, but any special keys for the PS3 won't. And forget about mice.
Mind you, Sony says that game developers are free to write their own drivers to support some of these devices. But honestly, why would they?
One of the new features of the PS4 is that it can record up to 15 minutes of your game play for you to share with your friends. But if you don't like that idea, tough luck; you can't turn it off. The PS4 is always recording your game play, whether you plan to share it or not.
And if you do plan to share it, your choices are limited. Or rather, your choice is limited. You can choose to share your recorded game play on Facebook. YouTube? Nope. DailyMotion? Nope. In fact, the way Sony has it planned, there isn't even a way to get your gaming videos off the PS4 and onto another device.
Even the features that Sony has already announced for the PS4 won't necessarily be available when the console launches in November. Among the delayed capabilities are sharing the controller via the internet, suspend/resume mode, and support for wireless stereo headsets. Presumably, Sony plans to add these features with another big software update that you may or may not need internet access for in the future.
There's more, of course. The whole FAQ is pages long, and if there's anything you'd like to know about the PS4 before it ships, you'll probably find it there. But we just thought that, for a console that prides itself on giving you options, the list of things it actually can't do makes for interesting reading. ®