PlayStation Neo

PlayStation Neo has a better ring to it than PS4.5, but the latter is probably a more accurate descriptor for Sony's latest hardware upgrade. In a little under 20 years (1994 - 2013), only four PlayStation desktop consoles were released to the public, so the fact that the Neo is set for launch in 2017 - only four years after the PS4 - may be something of a red flag for some (even if we are living in an age of super-fast tech innovation).

But be fair: if this is just a cynical cash-grab, Sony are at least trying not to alienate their fan-base too much. They have, we are reliably informed, committed to supporting backwards compatibility - that means you will still be able to play new titles on the PS4 after the Neo hits the shelves. The video game world has been awash with change in recent years, with supplementary downloadable content frequently given precedence over fresh games - perhaps the PlayStation Neo is the console equivalent; a timely and hopefully worthwhile upgrade, albeit a pretty pricey one.

So, let's cut to the chase - how will the Neo differ from the PS4?

1. Price
Well, you weren't expecting Sony to give their new console away, were you? The final retail price for the PlayStation Neo has yet to be announced but fans are bracing themselves for something considerably in excess of the £250 or so a brand new PS4 currently sells for.

2. Gaming innovation
We're delving into the realm of speculation here because, as always, Sony are keeping things low key in the early stages. What we do know is that new games have to be compatible for the PS4 as well as the Neo - but that doesn't mean they can't work better on the latter.

3. Performance
Here's one area where Sony haven't been shy about spilling the beans: the Neo will have a bigger and faster processor than its predecessor (2.1 GHz compared with a mere 1.6 on the PS4). This means better performance, and hopefully less loading time.

4. Graphics
Looks aren't everything, but if you're one of those gamers who loves eye-catching panoramic vistas and super realistic facial close-ups, then you're in luck. Developers have been improving in-game graphics with every new title, and the Neo will simply give them a better platform in their search for perfection.

5. Bigger memory capacity
Again, this is something that is unconfirmed, but most anticipate the Neo being fitted with an expanded hard-drive (or, at least, the capacity to support a larger one if required) - this is something that is much needed as discs begin to be replaced by downloads.

Our verdict
The truth is we don't really know enough to make an informed decision at this early stage. Hardcore gamers will be tempted by the promise of improved graphics and slicker performance, but the lack of exclusive titles may dissuade some from trading in their PS4s.