It looks like Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4 may be the Trojan Horse for 4K that the PlayStation 3 was for Blu-ray, since the company’s 4K download movie service is confirmed as a feature of the next-generation gaming console, due out late this year. It’s not without its technical challenges however, according to GamesInsustry.biz:
“The size of a typical movie, depending on the length of the movie, you’re talking a 100 GB plus,” said (Sony Electronics President and COO Phil) Molyneux. “Then you come into variables: how fast is your broadband at home or do you have optical broadband like they do in Houston, Texas, where you can get the movie down pretty quickly. So, that is one of the challenges that we have to work through. Looking to the future, we need to develop as an industry new compression ratios and technologies. That dialogue is an active process for us at the moment.”
File sizes on demonstration units of Sony’s standalone 4K server were around 50GB, and the new HEVC compression can cut 4K files in half, so there’s hope there. The PlayStation 4 also has a Blu-ray drive and USB ports, so even assuming that the hard drive is not user replaceable with any stock disc (as it is with the PS3), it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to ship movies on BD-50s and then load them onto the hard drive. But I personally believe that Sony has very little desire for their 4K theatrical level masters to be easily accessible via external means, and that is the source of the “ongoing discussion,” more than hardware issues. Good thing 4K televisions in normal people’s homes is at least three or four years off, so they’re going to have a lot of time to figure it out. The PlayStation 4, which supports 4K videos and pictures, but not 4K games, will hit shelves this fall.