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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

What to Do With Your Old PlayStation 4

Over the past year, more next-gen consoles are in the hands of players who had struggled to get them. I was elated when I got my hands on a non-price-gouged retail PS5, and since then I’ve been living in a two-PlayStation house. But I was sad that my PS4 had to sit idly by after making room for its replacement.

My trusty PS4 had served me well for many years, and I’d already upgraded its internal drive to an SSD during the PS5 dry season. Could I follow the actions of the masses and sell it? Yes, but how could I bring it such dishonor? It still had great value to me, not just to others, and I knew that there were many ways it could continue to bring glory to my house as console emeritus. If that sounds familiar, here’s how you can make the most of yours too.

Relocate It

If you have other televisions or monitors in the house, relocating your PS4 is going to be the precursor to the benefits I’ll get into below. I moved mine to my office, where my gaming rig is also set up. I know more than a few people who have consoles in their bedrooms, making it easier to enjoy some gaming before you drift off to sleep. (Although, to be fair, screens and sleep are a bad combination.) The kids’ room, whose tiny inhabitants may not need the full power of a next-gen console, is another option. Maybe it becomes a portable console for family trips—or just your own travels. Wherever you take it, you’ll still get a lot out of it.

Enjoy Those PS Plus Benefits

If you have a subscription to PlayStation Plus, those benefits extend to your PS account, not just a single console. This means your PS4, even if it’s not your primary console, can download and stream content while connecting to the same cloud saves you use on your primary PS5. Want to play some Spider-Man: Miles Morales in your living room? Great! You can continue it elsewhere on your PS4, with your saved game intact.

Make It a PS5 Jr.

Upon the PlayStation 5’s release, Sony added a feature to the PS4 to stream directly from it, giving you a second console to access content that’s on your shiny, new PS5. Using the Remote Play options in the system settings, you can pair the two consoles. I’m not going to lie, it’s not *perfect—*the controls aren’t exact—although I haven’t had much of an issue. Since you’ll be using a Sony DualShock 4 controller (or equivalent) it won’t have the full capabilities that the PS5 DualSense controller comes equipped with. But so far, outside of playing the flute on the PS5 edition of Ghost of Tsushima, I’ve been OK.

Make It a Media Streaming Box

PS4 apps and games are still going to be downloadable for a long time, which means your media and streaming apps, like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, Paramount+, and the rest can turn your PS4 into a strong entertainment center for streaming and local content.

My favorite media app on the PS4 is Plex, which allows you to connect to a local Plex media server (if you have one) to access all of the content on your local network. Because I’m that level of geek, I’ve ripped most of my DVD/Blu-ray collection to a digital library that sits on a media server in my office. Using Plex, all of that, plus other local video I have (OK, it’s all jiujitsu instructionals) is available for play on my PS4.

And it’s not just video. The PS4 is well equipped to handle music and podcasts as well, including those soundtracks that came with your special-edition game purchases that you can’t really transfer or play easily anywhere else (which is nuts, because where you really want it is in your car or on a CD or literally anywhere else).

But I digress.

Physical media isn’t off the table either. If you have your music, movies, or even photos on external USB drives, you can just plug and play. A word of warning: The PS4 doesn’t support NTFS, the default file system that Windows PCs use, so that physical media will have to be formatted in either FAT32 or exFAT before you copy your music and movies over to it. And if you’re a disc fan who likes to listen to all of the additional audio tracks and bonus disc content, it’s still one of the best Blu-ray players you can get.

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Not a fan of controlling your media with a … controller? Grabbing a PS4 media remote makes this process much easier.

Controllers Are Part of the Package

PS4 controllers can be used for PC and mobile gaming. You can pair one with your iPhone or Android phone or tablet to eliminate the joyless process of trying to control games on a touchscreen. They work great for your Steam library, and if you are a PS Plus Premium member, you’ll need one to play PS Plus content on your gaming rig or laptop.

In addition to PS Plus on PC, Sony’s PlayStation Remote app is available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, meaning you can pair the controllers with any of these devices to stream directly from your PS4 and PS5. A tiny bit of input lag? Sure. But if you really cared about that you’d be sitting at your console directly, am I right?

It’s a Computer; Use It Like One

So it’s not going to be as straightforward as firing up a Mac or Windows box, but your PS4 is in fact a computer! Plug a keyboard into one of the USB ports and you can use it much like a Chromebook. The console has a built in web browser, so any web-based content or tools are 100 percent fair game.

The result for me? Outside-the-box productivity options. Loading up the web browser, you can log in to your Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 suites, allowing you to access not only to the tools to punch up some documents in a pinch, but also your Google Drive and OneDrive files. It’s a handy little secret no one really thinks about, and to prove it works, I wrote one paragraph of this article on a PS4.

This is all a big reminder that just because gaming consoles are replaced by a new generation, that doesn’t render the old one useless or necessarily mean it’s destined for Craigslist. One generation back isn’t a gigantic gap, and it’s a far cry from what some would call retro gaming. In my experience, my PlayStation 4 is a super-effective Console 2.

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