Talking Point: Does the PS4 Need 4K Resolution?
Posted by Sammy Barker
A question of perspective
As expected, Sony’s CES press conference focused heavily on 4K resolution. Like 3D before it, the manufacturer spent the majority of its showcase demonstrating a new line of Bravia televisions that will attempt to drive the standardisation of the burgeoning format. The company also touched upon re-mastered Blu-rays, video cameras, and more, all emphasising the importance of the technology going forward. But with the impending PlayStation 4 rumoured to support the new fangled feature, do we really need it?
For those that don’t know, 4K resolution is a fresh format based on images approximately four times the size of 1080p. The technology essentially amounts to crisper looking content, especially on bigger screens. Imagine the jump between standard definition and high definition all over again, and you should get an idea for the scale of the improvement.
With television sales in need of a boost, and 3D-enabled sets not proving the catalyst most manufacturers anticipated, electronics companies are betting big on the new technology to reignite the market. That means that the format is guaranteed to infiltrate other forms of media, such as movies and video games, in order to encourage consumers to upgrade. But isn’t it all a bit premature?
With television sales in need of a boost, companies are betting big on the technology to reignite the market
In its current guise, the PS3 struggles to run games at 720p. Most titles are upscaled to meet the resolution requirements of your HD television, with Call of Duty: Black Ops being a particularly high profile example. Unfortunately, the existing hardware simply isn’t powerful enough to deal with the higher resolution. Now imagine that issue extrapolated to an image four times the size of the current benchmark.
While the PS4 is certain to boast significantly more graphical grunt than its predecessor, rendering in 4K resolution is still likely to be a strain on the system, especially when you factor in the usual mix of texture, lighting, and polygonal improvements that are expected alongside a new platform launch. Will the hardware be able to cope with the significant resolution bump?
Sony will no doubt spec the platform appropriately, but is such an emphasis a waste of resources? Earlier in the generation it made a similar push for 3D on the PS3, but while the initiative prompted some good results, the drive seems to have lost its impetus in recent months. What if 4K resolution fails to take off, too? Will the manufacturer be left with a needlessly bloated console capable of running games in a resolution that no one wants?
It looks like we’re not going to have a choice in matter. Sony is betting big on 4K technology and there’s no turning back now. As one of its largest brands, the company will be banking on its next console’s ability to showcase the benefits of the format, and presumably propel television sales. Let’s just hope that the gamble pays off, because the manufacturer really can’t afford to drop another 3D-sized clanger.
Are you interested in 4K resolution? Would you be tempted to upgrade your television if the PS4 took advantage of the format? Let us know in the comments section below.