Sony PlayStation 4: Early Praise, Problems

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Sony ( SNE) officially released its next-generation PlayStation 4 gaming console and almost immediately complaints of frozen or non-functioning devices were being reported on the Internet.

Long lines of fans had lined up to see, touch, try and possibly purchase the fourth-generation gaming platform as it officially went on sale at midnight. Special "launch parties" were held in hotel ballrooms and retail establishments across the country with the main event taking place at New York's Standard Hotel.

Sony reportedly made a total of only 444 PlayStation 4s available for last night's launch.

Sony shares were losing more than 1% to $18.44 in early Friday trading.

The new console features a large amount of firepower including an 8-core, 64-bit Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD) processor and Radeon graphics chip, 8 GB of very fast memory, a new user interface and a redesigned "Dual Shock 4" controller. PlayStation 4 carries an initial retail price of $400.

The PS4's largest competition will be Microsoft's ( MSFT) Xbox One when goes on sale next week (Nov. 22). Xbox One will retail for $100 more than the PS4 but includes the Kinnect motion-sensing-voice-sensing-plus-camera add-on as part of the package. Sony offers a camera for the PS 4 but charges an extra $60 for it.

Games designed for older PlayStation models are not compatible with the new PS4. At least 20 games were made available at launch and Sony promises a quick rollout of other top software offerings in the very near future. In a limited time offer, PS3 game owners can "upgrade" PS4 versions -- if they exist -- for $10 each game.

At the same time the PS4 was launched, early reports of frozen or otherwise non-functioning units began flooding bulletin boards and Internet social media sites. In one instance, reported problems with its new console as well as fielding complaints from other readers.

One early owner complained his PS4 was "dead on arrival" right out of the box. The IGN unit stopped working within a day. Messages to Sony were addressed almost immediately:

"A handful of people have reported issues with their PlayStation 4 systems. This is within our expectations for a new product introduction, and the vast majority of PS4 feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. We are closely monitoring for additional reports, but we think these are isolated incidents and are on track for a great launch.

There have been several problems reported, which leads us to believe there isn't a singular problem that could impact a broader percentage of systems. The number of affected systems represents less than .4% of shipped units to date, which is within our expectations for a new product introduction."

Early reviews of the PlayStation 4 system have been positive praising the system's graphics power and especially Sony's new multi-touch controller unit.

Unlike the constant onslaught of newer smartphone, tablet and computer models game consoles are launched very infrequently. Sony's last design, the popular PlayStation 3, was launched way back in 2006.

Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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