PlayStation 4 Pro Picks Up 4K Video Playback

Posted on March 28, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Games, Xbox One with 38 Comments

PlayStation 4 Pro Picks Up 4K Video Playback

Sony announced this week that it now supports 4K/UHD video playback on its flagship PlayStation 4 console, upping the stakes in its battle with Microsoft.

“The [PS4] Media Player app is getting an update to support 4K video playback on PS4 Pro,” Sony VP John Koller revealed. “Following this update, 4K videos in MP4 format saved on a USB stick or home server can be played on the Media Player app (remember, you’ll also need a 4K compatible TV to watch the videos in 4K).”

Interestingly, this support extends to PlayStation VR: Those with a PS4 Pro and Sony’s virtual reality solution can now watch 4K VR video content as well. Granted, playback will be limited to Full HD (1920 x 1080), the maximum resolution of that peripheral. But Koller notes that 4K VR videos will still display “in a higher image quality compared to HD VR videos.”

The PS4 Pro also supports 4K video streaming via apps such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu. What it’s missing, and this is honestly quite surprising, is support for 4K/UHD Blu-ray discs. For that, you will need an Xbox One S or a compatible standalone Blu-ray player.

I wrote about the Xbox One S’s support for 4K/UHD last summer after I upgraded to this new console version and acquired a stunning 55-inch Samsung 4K/UHD set that also supports HDR. On the Xbox One S, the Dashboard runs at 4K, and you can enjoy 4K content via local or network-based videos, Netflix and other streaming apps, and Blu-ray.

What you can’t do, of course, is play video games in 4K. But then, you can’t really do that on PS4 Pro either. For true 4K gaming, you’ll need a very powerful (and expensive and complex) gaming PC. Or you can wait for Xbox One “Project Scorpio,” which is coming this fall and will allegedly support true 4K gaming. I’m dubious but hopeful.

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Comments (38)

38 responses to “PlayStation 4 Pro Picks Up 4K Video Playback”

  1. norwayyyxxx

    Well, who uses actual movie discs these days. It would have made the pro more expensive for a feature only a limited audience would enjoy. I stream almost everything these days. There is also so much quality stuff these days that I don't watch stuff again anymore either.

    • Red09

      In reply to norwayyyxxx:

      There are plenty of people that still watch movies from disk.  Im not a fan of watching movies either by streaming or downloading.  I find the quality of streaming too erratic with just HD programs let only 4K with HDR.  Never downloaded a film myself so can't comment on quality there but there are those that prefer the highest quality that you can get and you'll only get that from a bluray disk but I'm aware that people like me are in the minority though.

    • Polycrastinator

      In reply to norwayyyxxx:

      Well, they lost at least one sale that way: me. I watch disks because the quality is, honestly, just better. I can see the difference between 1080p streaming and a Blu-Ray disk, so I'd presume the same will be true with 4K. I'm intending to get a 4K TV later this year, and would have bought a PS4 Pro if I could have had the console be my unified media source (we already use PS Vue for TV through a Roku).

      And since someone will ask, why PS4 over XBox One? Exclusives. I've never played Last of Us, and I'd really like to, I'd like to play Last Guardian, I'd like to play Horizon Zero Dawn, all the games that have come out in recent years that were on consoles that I want to play are on PS4 and not XBox. I look at the games catalog on Microsoft's side and I'm just not interested.

      • Darmok N Jalad

        In reply to Polycrastinator:

        Just my own reasoning here, but I suspect that Sony didn't include the 4K HDR drive on Pro in order to hit the $400 price target, and I think that would be the correct choice versus bumping the price up. I don't think they are willing to sell consoles for a loss anymore (that went poorly for the PS3). I suspect that when yields improve and material prices allow, there will be a revised Pro that can handle 4K HDR. Sony is just further down the road this generation, with better product positioning.

        • zybch

          In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

          Teardowns of the One S all concluded the UHD drive added a mere $23 to the price of the BD drive.

          Sony cut way back with other things like the dreadful bundled cables and their crap controllers that creak when you hold them.

    • Bats

      In reply to norwayyyxxx:

      A lot.

      I do exactly like you do, but discs are still cheaper than buying the digital versions only online and safer. Safer, in terms of, always having access to your collection (or investment) even if your streaming service goes out of business.

      Today you can buy the actual disc and get a copy of it online. See Ultraviolet.

      • norwayyyxxx

        In reply to Bats:

        Okay, I might be here in the minority. But I am a see once/play once guy. So I only use streaming services for movies/series. I am not a collector either.

        I watch man in the high castle recently with Amazon Prime in 4K + HDR on my LG 4K OLED TV and the quality was really breathtaking.

        But when I watch series I don't really care about the extreme quality of the picture. The story, character development, music is way more important than just graphics for me.

    • chaad_losan

      In reply to norwayyyxxx:

      To get the best possible quality in 4k you need a disk. Period.

  2. BoItmanLives

    In reply to smoothbond:

    Scorpio isn't going to play games "native 4k" either and will have to resort to upscaling and checkerboard tricks. Why? It takes the most powerful $500-$700 nVidia GPUs to do real 4K. The peashooter chip in the Scorpio will be nowhere near that.

  3. Waethorn

    "What you can’t do, of course, is play video games in 4K. But then, you can’t really do that on PS4 Pro either."

    There's that lie again. #fakenews

    • JudaZuk

      In reply to Waethorn: - so what games in 4K can you play on Xbox One S? And how many games can you play in true 4K on PS4 Pro?

      • Waethorn

        In reply to JudaZuk:

        Look throughout this and the other article. I, and others, have posted lists already. Those lists include notes on which games are Native 4K.

        Xbox One S doesn't play games in 4K. PS4 Pro does.

    • zybch

      In reply to Waethorn:

      The fake is that sony has convinced the miserable sheep that upscaling using 'their' checkerboarding is the same as actual 4k.

      Funny how they harped on about Quantum Break not being 1080 when that game used checkerboarding...

      • Waethorn

        In reply to zybch:

        There are several Native 4K games on these lists. Ones that do checkerboarding are not listed as "Native 4K"- just "4K".

        If the Xbox One S is called a Full HD game console even though not all games play at 1080p, then games on PS4 Pro that play at 3200x1800 (not far from 3840x2180 IMO) shouldn't be entirely discounted either.

        "4K" isn't even really "4K" considering the defacto industry resolution is really only "3.8K". And there are games that will output at that on PS4 Pro.

        • zybch

          In reply to Waethorn:

          They may 'output' at 4k but that generally just upscaling. No current AAA titles can come close to 4k. After all, how could it pump out x4 as many pixels with a processor only x2 as powerful as the stock PS4 that wasn't able to hit 1080 a lot of the time anyway.

  4. Waethorn

    Does the original Xbox One do HDR?

  5. SDreamer

    The irony is that Sony made Blu-ray >.>

  6. jamiet

    In reply to smoothbond:

    Well, if the PS4 Pro can do native 4k, then there should be no doubt AT ALL that Scorpio will deliver True 4k.

  7. TallGuySE

    I have a 65" 4K HDR set that I sit fairly close to. But I still wish this mid cycle bump was being used to give 1080p at ultra settings and a rock solid 60FPS. Yeah, the ~1800p games on the PS4 Pro look a little sharper. But I think the additional power could be better utilized, and I personally can wait for the PS5 to provide true 4K.

  8. MikeGalos

    So Sony's not really upping the stakes. Microsoft did that last year with the Xbox One S. Sony just partly caught up.

  9. chaad_losan

    BZZZT! Sorry Sony. That's not upping anything, it's playing catch up. My XBOX One S has had 4k playback from day one, including 4k UHD (The Martian look AMAZEBALLS in 4k on a UHD disk with HDR) My games looks amazing on my 4k LG with HDR. I know it's line doubling but I can't tell the difference. And 4k movies and TV shows like Breaking bad look just awesome. It's amazing how software wise the XBOX is months ahead of sony at every step of the way. But for some reason they keep selling consoles. I've played games on my super nice titan based Core i7 pc and on my xbox one, like Star Wars battlefront. Battlefield 4, Gears of War 4, The Division, Mass Effect Andromeda, etc, The difference in terms of graphics quality is so small that unless I'm looking for very specific things, I could not tell you which is from an XBOX one or a PC in a blind test.

  10. Tallin

    In reply to smoothbond:

    I'd say the criteria is that it can run current gen AAA games mostly at or around the target resolution. I mean, most would not consider the original Xbox a 1080 (or even 720p) console, even though it could and did run certain games at 1080i.

    • ecumenical

      In reply to Tallin:

      Lolwut? There were 6 games EVER for the Xbox that did 1080. There are already 31 that do native 4K on PS4 Pro. The "PS4 Pro doesn't actually play 4K games" is just Paul's newest troll line. Sometimes he's right (Windows Phone, Windows Store) but sometimes he's wrong.

      • JudaZuk

        In reply to ecumenical:

        Can you give an example of these 31 games that does true native 4K?

      • Tallin

        In reply to ecumenical:

        And there were almost 50 that could run at 720p on the original Xbox, but no one considers it an HD console. I mean, people argue about the Xbox One because it runs some games at 720p/900p that the PS4 runs at 900p/1080p, so I'd say turnabout is fair play...

        For the record, I never agreed that the PS4 Pro cannot play 4k games, but smoothbond specifically mentioned a true 4k console, and I'd say the PS4 Pro isn't, nor is anything that does not fit the criteria I provided.

        • ecumenical

          In reply to Tallin:

          Why, though? If it has 31 now it will probably have hundreds by the end of its lifespan. And the rest are generally much higher than 1080, just with dynamic resolution or checkerboarding or whatever. Do we have to pretend the 360 and PS3, or even the XB1 and PS4, aren't "true" HD consoles because many titles run at 720, 900, or with dynamic scaling instead of "true" 1080? It's not a useful discussion.

          And the argument about the XB1 isn't whether it's an HD console, it's that it's inferior to the PS4. Which it is. I'm sure the PS4 Pro will be inferior to Scorpio. Fine. But saying the PS4 Pro "doesn't actually play 4K games" as Paul does it objectively wrong, and setting aribtrary criteria so that it's not a "true" 4K console while Scorpio is (even though there will be plenty of non-native 4K titles for Scorpio as well) is silly.

          • Darmok N Jalad

            In reply to ecumenical:

            I think the argument is silly. The Pro is a more powerful PS4. It gives the gamer the option to improve the appearance and/or the frame rates of their games. Maybe Sony is overplaying the 4K aspect, but as usual, it is up to the buyer to decide if it's worth the extra money. I didn't think so, as I just bought a Slim even though I have a 4K HDR TV. To me, the games look good enough already, and there's only so much stopping "to look around" in a game anyway.

          • zybch

            In reply to ecumenical:

            Name a single current AAA game that the Pro plays in actual 4k.

            Seriously, just 1.

            I'll wait.

            • Waethorn

              In reply to zybch:


              Would you like another one?

              • zybch

                In reply to Waethorn:

                I VERY CLEARLY said name a single *** current AAA *** game that the Pro plays in actual 4k.

                Skyrim is 5+ years old, and none of the others are anything like AAA or current titles. They're either old or graphically simple, or use the bullshit checkerboard upscsling to claim 4k when they can't actually do it at all.

                Thats not to say they look bad, but they don't look as great as the marketing-to-idiots suggests.

  11. ifastimeclub

    Good news: PS4 Pro can support 4K MP4 via USB, however, i can't play 4K H.265 on PS4 Pro, PS4 Pro only can support 4K MP4. What a pity, by searching online and constant test,  find a perfect way to play all 4K video on PS4 Pro, just need to download Pavtube Video Converter Ultimate, this software is really easy to use and very stable, i can convert any 4k video to 4K MP4 with 100% original video quality, also i can change the video and audio codec, adjust the video effects, so cool.