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March 5, 2013

Come Development Hell or High Water, Sony PS4K is Coming (But with 100GB Downloads?)

It's a safe bet Sony will not be left behind in the 4K home media arms race, but that's about the only thing clear regarding the topic at this point, because Sony does not yet seem to have a clear strategy for 4K home delivery. Do you need Sony's 4K TV to access it, or don't you? It's now looking like either will be answered "yes." This is because another platform for a 4K delivery service will be the upcoming Playstation 4 video game console (which was strangely left out of their PS4 announcement, probably because 4K is only planned for video, not games, at the moment). While we don't know too much about their 4K home delivery service yet, there's talk about downloads up to 100 gigabytes or greater. But will this really happen, and more to the point, are 100GB downloads the only option for 4K?

When asked by The Verge if "PS4K" was a deal or no-deal, the response from Sony Electronics President and COO Phil Molyneux went only as far as: "I promise you will not be disappointed." I'll take that as a "yes," but one far-flung from "absolutely." Here's The Verge's Nilay Patel more recently on the subject, followed by an interview by Patel with Molyneux:

It appears the company still has some work to do in making the 4K download service a realistic option for regular consumers. Molyneux said that typical 4K movies would be "100 gigabytes and plus" depending on length, and added that file size and average broadband speeds are "challenges that we have to work through... we've got some very good ideas that will make that a comfortable consumer experience." That sounds like overnight downloading of huge files, which Sony already does for PS3 games — and Sony CEO Kaz Hirai called adjusting to long download times "a journey" for consumers when we asked him about it at CES. Molyneux did say that work on improved compression for smaller files was "in active progress," but it seems the first generation of 4K products will involve huge files.

Okay. So first, there was 4K streaming -- or downloading, or something; the talking point here is that you're not buying or renting a future-forsaken disc, it will be internet-based in all likelihood -- available specifically through Sony's 4K TV set. Our own Joe Marine also later mentioned Sony's progressive 4K delivery plans amongst the 4K stories swarming around the most recent CES. The more recent information released about the Playstation 4 pretty much solidifies home 4K's future from Sony, but that's all it really solidifies. Physical media is still not definitely out of the question, but I can almost guarantee you it will never materialize, from Sony or any other company (and if it does it will be short-lived). I can also almost guarantee you that PS4K will eventually be a reality, and this stuff about 100GB downloads will not be part of the conversation for long. Either way, it's just never going to be the reality from any self-respecting video industry leader in a world where REDRAY will offer 4K movies under 20GB total.

Even with greater connections speeds proliferating (and therefore access-per-dollar value increasing), or the perennial ability to opt-in to better ISPs, 100GB for any single movie seems unecessary more than anything else. I'm sure as Sony irons out the kinks, it will become clear where such figures are coming from, just as it will become clear there's a better way to do home 4K. The situation gets a little tricky, because the REDRAY comparison highlights an elephant in the room: the recent lawsuit by RED against Sony, which is all about novel wavelet encoding of 4K media. Granted, that lawsuit concerns on-board camera recording and not distribution, but it will be interesting to see how RED patents are already shaping the space.

What do you guys think? Do you think these figures will stick, or will Sony likely figure something else out?

Link: Sony 4K movie service will work with PS4, require 100GB-plus downloads -- The Verge

Your Comment

21 Comments

How much does the new h.265 cut off on size? I wonder if that or something else will be introduced? Just a guess though.

March 5, 2013

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Xiong

It's around twice as efficient as H.264.

March 5, 2013

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

I remember hearing some figure banded around of 35mbps for 4k at h265 so should be about 32gb for 2hrs

March 5, 2013

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Chris Lambert

Do anyone now the timeframe or date on H.265, considering the realease of the next abode suite around the corner?

March 5, 2013

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Sony is probably waiting to see what Red's Delivery codec (.RED) is all about, like the rest of us. I also foresee more legal issues between these companies.

March 5, 2013

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Fernando

100GB too big. Just give me 4K BD.

March 5, 2013

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Mark

Look at it this way. BD can hold 25GB per layer. Since dual layer came along, you can hold up to 50GB on one disc, which some films do push the limits on. That's at 1080. 4K is (roughly) 4 times that resolution and for simple explanation purposes, the information. So for that equivalent BD, it'd be 200GB file...take into account some other compression, say H.265, providing double the compression capabilities, and you've got 100GB. Looks like you're getting 100GB either way, though I understand preferring its all on a disc as opposed to your own hard drive. But at least it sounds like they're not trying to skimp out too much on the quality.

March 5, 2013

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Chase

You don't neccessarily need the bitrate of Bluray to deliver content. Have you ever downloaded any 1080p movie rip? the bitrate is usually around 8Mbps which is about 1/4 of its original Bluray release and still offers visually the same quality. That translates to about 50GB for a 4K title. with H265 you can further reduce it to about 25GB.

March 5, 2013

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Marvin

Absolutely, BluRay bit rate is not needed for digital delivery. But the fact that the Sony execs remark that it will likely be 100GB shows where that number is likely coming from.

March 5, 2013

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Chase

They better do something about the efficiency of the codecs.

March 5, 2013

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Natt

TB is the new GB

March 5, 2013

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Ryan

Lol it's so true

March 5, 2013

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Luke

Why the hell are we still talking about 4K delivery, it's not happening anytime soon, for some of the reasons you can read on this article, files are huge, internet services arent fast enough yet, most of people still stream from Wifi which is even slower. the new great codec .265 wont do the job as well, ans big movies wont be delivering in 4k for the simple reason vfx will become much more expensive than what currently is. Dont lose your sleep on this, this is a gimmick to sell more tvs and services.

March 5, 2013

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Marcus

Live a little, dream a little, then make something cool. Don't define what you can do in the future by your current limitations. People are already working on solutions to all those problems you mentioned.

March 5, 2013

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I know, and it'll come along, I just dont like few companies trying to make you swallow something early in the process, almost like "you need a 4k TV in 2014 or you'll be missing out" Netflix barely works in HD, its so compressed it hurts. We still have room to make HD stream looks like you are watching a bluray before talking 4K streaming.

March 5, 2013

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Marcus

I find it very weird that this exec from Sony keeps going on a bunch of different news programs (that really have no relevancy) pitching and explaining 4K to everyone. It seems forced, and he isn't exactly the best spokesperson...it's both weird and funny...and now I can't even find a link to him...

March 5, 2013

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Chase

It's an interesting debate, I agree in part, with both Marcus and Wes. I love the idea of 4k content, pushing towards the future is the only way we move forward, but, Wes has a point, we haven't even caught up to full HD streaming and online content, so it seems drastic to be sighting 4k as something we should accept by as soon as 2014!

March 5, 2013

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Lloyd

A single one hour BBC iPlayer HD episode (720p) is around 1GB.

Double the bitrate for 1080p: 2GB, quadruple that for 4K and get 8GB for one hour, 16GB for two.

It won't look amazing, there will be visible macroblocking and banding, etc, but so there are on BBC iPlayer HD episodes. On the 40 inch screen most of the time they're still not half bad. Such is life. H265 and higher average bitrates will help us along.

Filesizes in the 100GB+ will only exist for things like 4K Blu-ray, etc, I should think. If H265 really is twice as efficient, we may have two hour 4K films for as little as 8GB. I think the way it generates macroblocks is also better, so certainly compression artefacting should be more palatable in theory.

March 5, 2013

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WillS

The "stream/download/over-the-air" qualities gave ALWAYS been a few steps behind the "hard copy" medium. For example, when DVDs were out, and we had TV's that could handle DVD quality, over-the-air broadcasts were still of inferior quality. When the playstation 3 came out, and we had 1080p hdtvs. Cable tv and streaming (Netflix, VUDU, PS store, amazon video etc) were still of lower quality than bluray discs were. Even today, Netflix can't broadcast in bluray quality, and over the air tv, including cable and satellite, can only air 720p. Before we demand 4k quality streams and downloads, I'd be content if we can start getting Bluray quality on Netflix and on cable tv.

March 6, 2013

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Pianohero

To piggy-back on Chase's remark, I seem to remember when Blurays came out that supposedly they would be able to contain up to 8 layers, which, at 25GB per, equals out to 200 GB, which would seem to be adequate for 4k, (depending on bitrate), and the newer HDMI standard should support the necessary throughput. So, does anybody know what happened on the 8-layer bluray front? And why would Sony and others, who are invested in (and make money from) the format, want to push it out so quickly when it should theoretically support 4k? Admittedly, you'd need a new player, but considering that 1080P players can be has for under US$99 these days, how much more would a 4k capable player really cost?

March 8, 2013

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duane

Wow...things are set to get a lot worse before they get better.

Content companies want streaming/instant, not physical discs or having to mail flash cartridges or thumb drives or whatnot...

...but the hardware side wants to up the pixels and resolutions...to improve, to sell something new, to keep customers feeling unsatisfied, knowing something "better" is out there...etc...but the problem is that the bandwidth infrastructure can't handle it as it is...I only stream netflix for things that aren't out on bluray (or that I don't care about the look---for example, I'll stream The Office, but I want a bluray for Mad Men)...

So the way Apple is giving up drives, and everything is an App, and Adobe offers the hardcopy-less version of CS for (arguably) cheaper..so goes Sony with their newer PlayStation if media is only streamed...

The two sides of Sony are at war with each other (the media side, and the hardware side)...this conflict is why they didn't solve the downloadable music situation and Apple, a totally outsider to the music industry, did. Sony had the record labels, as well as computers and consumer electronics... I'm starting to think they're on the verge of screwing up again in a similar way with the 4K situation.

March 11, 2013

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Daniel Mimura