Earlier today, Sony released firmware version 3.50 (codenamed “Musashi”) for the PlayStation 4. Social features like scheduled events and log-in notifications have made their way to Sony’s console, but today’s biggest news is the support for Remote Play on both Macs and PCs. At long last, Sony has finally decoupled this excellent feature from the wildly unpopular PlayStation TV and Vita hardware.
Okay, so how do you take advantage of Remote Play? First, you’ll need to make sure everything is up to date. If you’re not immediately prompted to update your PS4 upon boot-up, head over to Settings > System Software Update, and download the latest firmware. On your computer, head to this page, and download the Remote Play client. Plug in your DualShock 4 over USB, launch the app, and then log into your PSN account. The app will search the internet to find your console, but you can also pair your device manually by going to Settings > Remote Play Connection Settings > Add Device on your PS4.
Keep in mind, the default client settings aren’t necessarily optimal. Before you actually connect with your PS4, you might want to head over to the preferences panel first. For the best visual experience, set the resolution to “High (720p),” and change the frame rate to “High” as well. If you’re running on a wired connection, that should work perfectly fine. If you’re relying on a Wi-Fi connection, you’re better off leaving the frame rate on “Standard.” Give it a try at 720p, and see if your connection can handle it. If you run into problems, you can try dropping the resolution to 540p or 360p, but both of those settings are hard to look at on a PC monitor or HDTV.
We’ve spent dozens of hours using Remote Play on the Vita and PlayStation TV, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed those experiences. It’s exciting that more people can use this feature, but it’s frustrating to see some of the limitations of this release. For example, the client only supports the DualShock 4 when it’s plugged in. Considering that the controller simply uses Bluetooth to connect wirelessly, it’s mind-boggling that Sony requires you to be tethered. Presumably, that kink will be worked out as time goes on.
Our time spent testing Remote Play on a Mac over an Ethernet connection resulted in virtually zero hiccups, and input lag has been miniscule. However, the graphical fidelity is a problem when you’re sitting three or four feet in front of the screen. The relatively low bitrate and the 720p resolution cap makes everything look softer than it should. We haven’t had trouble reading any text as of yet, but it’s definitely more distracting than expected.
Over in the Xbox camp, local game streaming is available, but it’s much more limited in scope. You can stream gameplay to a PC or tablet, but it must be running Windows 10. The PS4 Remote Play app works on Windows 8.1, Windows 10, OS X 10.10, and OS X 10.11. With any luck, this move from Sony will spur Redmond to broaden its support going forward. And as we’ve said before, iOS and Android support would be the next logical step.