Next month, Sony will be releasing its PlayStation 4 Pro, which will make PS4 games look much better on the requisite UHD screens. The Xbox One S, released in August this year upscales existing Xbox One games to fit those same, expensive TV’s. Next year, Microsoft has plans to release a more powerful console that they promise will natively render at that sweet resolution – doing away with things like checkerboard rendering and upscaling.
But is any of this worth it? Are enough people adopting UHD screens for this technological race to be worthwhile for both consumers and platform holders? Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter doesn’t think so. Speaking to Gamingbolt, the industry analyst says he doesn’t think 4K is worth chasing. Responding to their question on whether the PS4 PRO’s lack of native 4K rendering was an issue, he said:
“4K penetration isn’t that great. An in the US, it’s probably about 5% of households,” he said. “And 4KTVs are still a bit too expensive. I literally just bought a TV, our second room television, and I had a choice between a 55inch Samsung curved 1080p TV for $700, and the same TV in UHD for $1100. And I thought about it, and I realized, it’s not worth an additional $400.”
“There’s no programming for 4K. There’s no broadcast television. I can watch Netflix in 4K, and play games when I get my Scorpio in a year, but do I want a TV for that now? And the answer is, no, I don’t. I can afford it, and I didn’t do it. So I think it’s foolish to chase this small slice of the market. I do know that these tech enthusiasts who are into super high tech, and early adopters, are all drooling about it, and they really want 4K native resolution on their games. But I think that Sony are a mass market consumer electronic manufacturer, and they are going after the biggest slice of the market, which is 1080p.”
Sony doesn’t seem to think so, though. Speaking at Streaming Media east, Sony Vice president for consumer electronics Nick Colsey asserts that 15% of the US market will own 4K screens by year’s end.
“By the end of this year about 15 percent of US homes are going to have a 4K TV in their living room. This is growing very rapidly. Much more rapidly than the penetration of HD did. There’s tons of 4K content out there: movies, TV shows, and increasingly, sports, live sports in 4k, as well. As a consumer, now is definitely the right time to be getting into 4K and as a content owner, content producer now—actually last year was really the right time to get started with 4K.”
I’m not entirely convinced. While the prices of decent 4K screens has come down considerably (and is expected to drop even more in the near future), I don’t think the uptake on 4K is going to be all that immediate. For most consumers right now, 1080p is good enough. I do, however, think that it is a worthwhile market to capture – though that has more to do with the benefits of HDR than the extra clarity and sharpness provided by the increased resolution.