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Sony's 4K movie streaming service compatible with PlayStation 4

Sony's 4K movie streaming service compatible with PlayStation 4

Fri 01 Mar 2013 10:41pm GMT / 5:41pm EST / 2:41pm PST
Hardware

Sony tries to destroy bandwidth caps everywhere with 100 GB downloads

At this year's CES, Sony showed its next future technology drive: 4K television displays running at a resolution of 3840 2160. The company realizes that you can't sell a TV without content, so Sony also announced that it was working on a 4K video distribution service. Sony Electronics president Phil Molyneux told The Verge that the service will eventually be compatible with the upcoming PlayStation 4. The problem? The size of the films.

"The size of a typical movie, depending on the length of the movie, you're talking a 100 GB plus," said 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."

Surprisingly enough, Sony is launching its 4K televisions this summer with download-only infrastructure. The TVs will ship alongside a special 4K content server. The problem with 4K physical media is there currently isn't an industry standard for discs that can handle 4K content.

"Consumers are used to download and streaming. I don't want to discount the good work that's going into potential physical media distribution, but that's an industry association and they're working hard," he added.

Sony has already revealed that the PlayStation 4 would support 4K photos and videos, but not 4K-enabled games.

[Image via ComputerActive]

25 Comments

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

897 1,340 1.5
It just wouldn't be Sony if they didn't take this opportunity to force on people a "brand new format" *yawn* and push the price of the kit up. It took me about 10-12 BluRay's before I gave up on that and refused to buy another one due to being sick of downloading updates to my player when I really wanted to watch a new film.

Gonna instapass on this one and save myself much pain. Not that it's an option in most of the UK anyway...

Posted:A year ago

#1

Doug Paras

117 61 0.5
would take me probably 2 or 3 weeks to download 100 gigs if I'm lucky, smart work there sony putting in a service few can use.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Pier Castonguay Programmer

189 106 0.6
I for one think it's about time. The 1080p era stalled for too long. Can't wait for 4k to become mainstream. If this force our ISP to wake up and finally stop setting up imaginary bandwidth limit for profit, all the better.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Sergiu Badau Wittenberger QA Tester

26 32 1.2
Popular Comment
100gb ? That's like 20 minutes tops to download :/ I would greatly appreciate the 4k videos!

Posted:A year ago

#4

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
I call bull on you downloading 4GB per minute Sergiu. The fastest ISPs in the USA run 50Mb per second which is 6MB per second or 360MB per minute. At that rate it would take almost more than 4.5 hours to get a 100GB video. And of course most people have nowhere near that speed (most run 12Mb/sec or less).

Google Fiber, the fastest internet in then world as far as I know runs at 1Gb/sec which is ~7.5GB per minute, and it only exists in one city in the country right now... So unless Romania secretly developed unbelievable internet technology, downloading and streaming 4K videos is far from viable right now.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 2nd March 2013 6:18pm

Posted:A year ago

#5

Laurens Bruins Jaywalker, Jaywalkers Interactive

135 158 1.2
I used to play a whole lot of Rogue Spear online in the late 90's. While we just had 256k ADSL, all my Scandinavian mates were already sporting 120mb fiberglass. Sergiu might be exaggerating a bit, but the notoriously bad US internet infrastructure is hardly an indication.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,593 1,448 0.9
The company realizes that you can't sell a TV without content
I feel it's hard enough to find decent TV/films that warrant a DVD/BR purchase. Tell me, what exactly is the point of 4k 100gb content, when the content in question isn't that high a quality anyway? Days Of Our Lives in 4k is a comical idea. What about the next dreary Transformers movie? Die Hard 5? Fast and Furious 6? The films that will really benefit from such high-def quality aren't exactly classics of cinema. And, as I've noted in comments previously, even something like Leverage (shot in 4096 x 2304 24fps) is downscaled to 1080p in post-production, and there aren't even Blu-Rays of that series available.

Technologically, this is interesting, yes. But there's no market for it right now, and considering Sony's losing money hand-over-fist, I find it surprising they're chasing this in a material way.

Posted:A year ago

#7
100GB would be for top quality. Look at Netflix's HD streams, you can bet on them being waaay smaller than Bluray. If you can have a 1080p movie today in less than 10GBs you can certainly do a 4K in less than 40GB.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

897 1,340 1.5
You missed off an exponent operator...

Posted:A year ago

#9

Josh Meier

40 15 0.4
Streaming 4k just sounds like an awful idea. Maybe when exponentially faster connection speeds are possible for a much large group of people...but now?

The highest I've ever seen my download go is a little over 4MB/s. If I want to watch a 2 hour movie I don't want to wait 4+ hours just to watch it. The few times I'm ever in the mood to watch a movie, I want to watch it now or (if netflix doesn't have it) in about 20 minutes after I've gone to the movie rental store.

Posted:A year ago

#10

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
@Nicholas - Actually Romania has the 5th fastest broadband in the world, much higher than the US (14th). But I'm sure that was still an exaggeration.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Adam Yau Game Programmer

23 10 0.4
I think some of you are miss-reading the article. The article says it is a "Streaming service" so you don't need to download the whole movie before watching. Think streaming videos like on YouTube.

Obviously you will still need a decent connection to stream smoothly, but until we know the actual connection requirements I don't see why it's not a viable option.

Posted:A year ago

#12

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,184 979 0.8
I'd go as far as saying some people are missing the point entirely if not also forgetting the progression of technology in all areas right now.

Look, Sony have the ability to provide this (niche) service so why not? Its not like everyone has a 4k TV or really anyone for that matter, but there will come a point when people do start to adopt them to whatever degree and the expectation is that it will fall within the PS4 life cycles.

Next, on broadband speeds. Well, here in the UK with an 'upto 100Meg' connection I'm reaping the benefits of progression in communication technologies all the time and I can already imagine streaming or downloading large quantities of data (not likely to be 4k movie as I don't have the 4K TV), so its in the realm of possibility. These broadband speeds at least for many countries with high technology is not all that rare now.

Finally, XAVC is the new Codec designd by Sony to allow high quality 4k film to be stored and streamed whilst possessing a size not astronomically bigger than "Full HD". They have spoken about the intention being able to store 4k on a 50GB blu ray. As for streaming, I'm sure the quality can be varied from the rawest, purest 4k definition and super high definition audio, to something even more practical for streaming, much like we see in current HD streaming. If one decides to stream a film instantly, we don't expect that the quality will necessarily be equal to that of the disc version. I doubt anyone would bemoan a HQ XAVC stream in any case.

If you can stream pretty damn good YouTube vides at 1080p now, don't write of the idea of 4K on an all new codec with superior compression and taking into account the fact we do have some considerable movement in networks.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 4th March 2013 1:45pm

Posted:A year ago

#13

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
@Adam Yau - Think about it. To stream a movie you need to be able to download it faster than it plays back. If it takes you 6+ hours to download 2 hours worth of video, how can you possibly stream it?

Posted:A year ago

#14

James Verity

132 25 0.2
Sony want people to download 100GB of data... have they checked the speed of PSN lately... your lucky if you get anywhere near half your DL speed of your ISP... PSN is blindingly slow, maybe they need to look at there own internet first, before they suggest what everyone else needs or should have...

Posted:A year ago

#15

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,593 1,448 0.9
@ Adam

It's all about time-scales, I suppose. Given how far in the hole Sony is, I wouldn't have thought it a good idea to chase the 4k market too quickly. But, of course, future-proofing is always good.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Adam Yau Game Programmer

23 10 0.4
@Dave My main point is that there is no need to wait for the full download. And the rest, as Adam Campbell wrote.

Posted:A year ago

#17

James Gallagher Marketing Planner, Futuremark Corporation

29 12 0.4
You can already watch 4K videos on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5BF9E09ECEC8F88F

Posted:A year ago

#18

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
@Adam - So if a 2 hour movie is going to take me 6 hours to download, the best streaming can really do to help is allow me to start watching the movie after 4 hours of buffering so that I don't catch up to the point it hasn't downloaded yet. That's hardly much of a help.

Posted:A year ago

#19

Adam Yau Game Programmer

23 10 0.4
@Dave If it's streamed it makes sense that it will be in "streamed quality". i.e. I can stream 1080p youtube videos but my internet speed can not possibly stream a blue ray movie as is. And as the article and Adam Campbell wrote already, compression and other tricks come into play.

Unless... of course, if the 100GB plus size refers to the actual content being streamed to us then you worries are normal. I never thought that will be the case though when it will be streamed.

Posted:A year ago

#20

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
A Blu Ray movie is also outputting 7.1 channel DTS surround sound (or even lossless audio for the audiophiles), which is a lot of data in itself, so youtube's obviously saving a lot by just streaming stereo. I can't see anyone who wants the ultra high quality of 4K movies to be happy listening to crappy stereo audio.

Posted:A year ago

#21

Adam Yau Game Programmer

23 10 0.4
Yes, that's why I'm really looking forward to the new technology that will make it possible :)

Posted:A year ago

#22

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,184 979 0.8
@Dave

- Save significant memory and bandwidth on new XAVC codec.

- Save significant memory and bandwidth on a reduction in quality through streaming (though still superior on a 4K screen compared to 1080p on that screen).

- Save significant memory and bandwidth on optimising the audio quality - most homes/systems can't tell between the rawest uncompressed audio and a compressed, smaller version, so many people will be happy with that. When I listen to high quality MP4, WMV or MP3 I'm not complaining for example.


Sony (amongst others) are trying to keep the storage/bandwidth requirements modest for the resolution using new technologies, whilst keeping a high quality. If someone is a super audiophile or otherwise, they can go an get the 4K blu-ray, for the rest of people who may just be happy to get stunning 4k on their TVs instantly, they're not going to be bothered by a reduction in quality over a massive blu-ray version. Just like when we watch HD film and videos on-line now.

Quality vs Storage and Bandwidth has to be varied and taken into consideration. If the argument has become "oh but its crappy", its now into nonsense territory as obviously the audiophile or those who need to scrutinise every pixel are not the mass market or at least won't be once higher resolutions are more widely adopted.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 5th March 2013 4:46pm

Posted:A year ago

#23

Craig Page Programmer

384 220 0.6
I'm really excited by this, but only because I watch and play everything through my projector on a 120" screen.

Now would be a horrible time to go for 4K, but in 10 years 4K projectors will be under $2000, download speeds and caps will let you stream the movies smoothly, and you'll have a ten year back catalog of movies and TV shows to watch. Well... movies at least, since the theaters are using 4k versions of the movies. And 4k porn!!

Posted:A year ago

#24

Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer

482 293 0.6
The PS4 has HDMI doesn't it? Last time I looked that wasn't rated for 4k output. So even if the PS4 can take 4K data in surely it's not able to actually output it but, hey what do I know...

Posted:A year ago

#25

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