I was reading over at Ars Technica's gaming section--and that line alone likely surprised a lot of people--but they had an exciting bit of commentary that said that Ultra HD
, or 4K as some are calling it, might be in line for a big boost from the next generation of gaming. But is such an idea valid? Possibly...but not without some flaws in the thinking.
One of the biggest points made was that Sony could offer a way to download Ultra HD movies from the cloud to a console as a way to provide added value for gamers. Ostensibly, Microsoft could do likewise. Now, sure, this is quite in keeping with Microsoft's
goal of conquering the living room, and surely Sony would be happy with such a title as well. But there's one point that seems to stick in the craw on that one, and that's a point of bandwidth.
While the thought of streaming--or just downloading--Ultra HD film from the cloud onto a gaming device sounds awesome, we've got to keep in mind the idea of bandwidth. Sure, some out there have bandwidth and to spare, but with a lot of users, we're talking about a 250 gigabyte cap or so. Now, by way of reference, estimates from Amazon suggest that 80 minutes of 1080p video represents about eight gigabytes. A single-layer Blu-ray holds 24.6 gigabytes, but that includes extra features and the like, so 80 minutes / eight gigabytes is pretty good for a planning number. Now, consider that Ultra HD is about four times that. That would put 80 minutes around 32 gigabytes, and it's not going to take long before people are slamming into their bandwidth caps like reverse bungee jumpers in a greenhouse made of foot-thick plexiglas.
That having been said, we don't know what kind of compression systems might be employed by these cloud-based
systems. Additionally, disc-based media will go over well; being able to play Ultra HD movies and games from a game console isn't a bad idea. Certainly when PlayStation 3 came out originally, there were more than a few who bought it for the Blu-ray today, and for the games later on. The thought of playing games in Ultra HD will prove exciting for many as well.
But with the economy still soft, and consumer confidence having recently been seen about as low as the confidence of the school nerd at a cheerleader-only prom, the thought of getting people to buy big, expensive new televisions is a difficult one to swallow.
Still, though, as the prices come down, the quality comes up, and people get an eyeful of what gaming can look like when it's in full-on mind-blowing Ultra HD, well, it's likely that things will pick up all the more. Gaming might just be a big help for Ultra HD, but only time will tell just how far in it goes.