With the rumors circling about the Play Station 4.5 or 4K And Xbox's need to keep up I wanted to take a minute to discuss what any of it really means. and if any of it will realistically matter to you in the next few years.
For those who aren't familiar with what 4K really is it's essentially the ability to display and image at native resolution of new Ultra HD TV screens. I've added an info graphic below to show the difference in different formats below.
The first question is ultimately does 4k matter as far as video games goes? It's a bit of a grey area but it is not the most important factor by any means. The reason the Xbox One and PS4 look so much better than the 360 and PS3 has infinitely more to do with polygon count, particle and lighting effects and texture mapping then it does with resolution. Though nearly every article you read only refers to the number of P's being rendered. The P's they are referring to are the number of horizontal lines displayed on a Progressive Scan image. 4k/UHD = 2160p, Full HD = 1080p, HD = 720p, DVD/SD =480p and anything lower is just considered SD. Right now the Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii U all max out at Full HD 1080p. I think any one can see the clear difference in the One/360, PS4/PS3. But that has nothing to do with output resolution. If you do own a 4K\UHD TV it likely up scales the image slightly but not enough to make a real difference. The image below shows how I use my 4k display the majority of the time.
So why is Sony toying with the idea of a "4.5" Play Station? Is it really about output resolution? Will it matter in most games? Will new games even release for the standard PS4? I think it is safe to say this is not much at all about the output resolution of the over all graphics quality. as out putting the same graphics quality scaled up 4 times requires about 4 times the hardware capability. So with out the price being astronomical the only thing that may be really gained from the new hardware is resolution while the assets and smoke, lighting and particle effects essentially stay the same. In which case your TV is already effectively doing this for you. What this is really about is PlayStation VR. VR requires two 1080p outputs to function properly and it is very possible the PS4 currently struggles with this. Microsoft has directly admitted that the Xbox One is not "Directly VR Capable". Don't be surprised to see an PS 4.5" VR bundle announced at this years E3.
With Xbox not having a VR solution or a 4K console upgrade on the horizon how can they possibly keep up? This is where I may come off as crazy but I could also be 100% accurate. Microsoft and Xbox don't have to keep up because they are already light years ahead. Wait what, I even have to question my logic on that one. But the explanation is for the most part simple. Micro soft does not need a One.Five console. because they've had one from the beginning. It's been the plan all along. Hell, 270 million people already have the new upgradable Xbox One. It's called every Windows 10 device on the planet. Completely scalable, upgradeable and capable to run virtually any game at as high or low of settings as you want. With the Universal Windows Store being rolled into Xbox this means you will very likely be able to play existing Xbox One and Xbox 360 games on a capable PC in the very near future. Already fully VR supported. Oculus Rift is already shipping with an Xbox One Controller. Microsoft has already made a handful of games available and they look outstanding at max settings if you have a machine capable of handling the load.
Does this mean there will not be another Xbox? No, not by any means. consoles are a convenient and affordable alternative to buying a gaming pc. There is now reason they can't co-exist. Just don't be surprised if this is the way the Xbox Eco-System shifts over the next few years.