It’s bad enough that the PS4 is stuck on an older 2.1 standard of Bluetooth – not even the lower powered standards have been implemented, which might have improved battery life on the controllers – but is the Bluetooth range worse than it was on the PlayStation 3?
With the PS3 users would happily find that their controllers would work from the other side of their house. The PS4 should, theoretically, be the same. None-the-less many users are reporting communication issues from just the next room.
My PS4 is in a different room to my TV – the PS4 is literally behind the wall that the TV is mounted on and is less than 1.5 metres from where I sit. However, I often find a sudden lag occurring between my controller and the PS4.
So, what could the cause be? There are 3 possibilities, or a combination of them…
- It’s under-powered in the PS4
- The location of the transmitter is causing reception issues
- The Dualshock itself is to blame rather than the PS4
Let’s look at what differences there are between the implementation.
On the PS3, a teardown of the PS3 Slim shows the Bluetooth antenna in the lower left hand side of the console, attached to 3-dimensional metal connectors. It uses a Marvell 88W8780 combination WiFi/Bluetooth chipset, although specifications for this don’t seem to be available.
A teardown of the PS4 shows the Bluetooth chip to be on the rear left of the console (looking at it from the front). Instead of a physical cable the chip is connected to a right angled plate via a connector on the motherboard. The Marvell 88W8797 chipset used is a combination WiFi/Bluetooth/RDS radio set-up and it supports Bluetooth 4 (maybe a future software update will allow this).
What the latter chipset shows is that it supports both Class 1 and Class 2. Class 1 allows a range of up to 100 metres but consumes 100mW to do so – Class 2 only allows a 10 metre range but consumes just 2.5mW. Is there a possibility here that the PS4 has switched from Class 1 to 2 to ensure that carrying audio to the controller doesn’t dramatically impact controller battery life? Indeed, the Bluetooth in the controllers themselves are also critical but Sony has released little information about these. A Sony FAQ for the Dualshock 3 states that the range is 30 feet – that is consistent with a Class 2 device. If the PS3 was Class 1 I would have expected this range to be greater.
So, conclusion? We don’t have one. Without firm details of the Dualshock 3, 4 and PS3 Bluetooth we can’t ideally compare. Certainly, it would appear that the positioning and configuration of the Bluetooth within in the PS4 is not as good as the PS3. If you’re having issues I’d make sure that left hand side is as close to the controllers as possible.
Sadly, long term, there isn’t a solution – there doesn’t appear to be such a thing as a Bluetooth extender (shame).