Before the Xbox 360 landed at the end of 2005 (yes, it’s been that long), all games rendered at a humble 640×480 pixels or less, the realm of standard definition. with the advent of more powerful hardware, developers were finally able to take advantage of high definition resolutions, namely 720p (which is what most games run at) and 1080p (the realm of Blu-ray). Well, rumor’s getting around now that Sony’s including 4K support, which is four times as many pixels as Full HD at 1080p, in their new console slated for release next year. Excessive, much?
If you’re familiar with how High-Definition TVs work, you’ll also probably be familiar with the Lechner Distance. Not familiar? Bernard Lechner, an RCA engineer and a key figure in bringing about high-definition resolutions in the home, came with a standard scale to determine what resolutions would work best. He determined that most people sit nine feet away from their TVs and that in order for a consumer to take advantage of a 720p resolution set, it would need to be 48″. 1080p? 69″. Any smaller than that and your eyes simply aren’t able to see the full resolution of the set. Just like 3D, TVs makers like LG and Sony are coming up with crazy new ways to advance the TV set and that belongs to new resolutions you can’t even see.
Sony has a vested interest in pushing both TVs and the consoles people attached to them, and it’s this somewhat needless future-proofing that guaranteed them a last place finish in this console generation. Had they scaled back their ambitions a bit, they probably wouldn’t have needed to hit their original $599.99 price point. While 4K seems like a neat option, it’s also going to be completely worthless for the average consumer. TV makers were showing off the the super-dense TVs at CES earlier this year, but one only truly took advantage of the detail when they were invited close to the set. Another advantage of 4K is actually better-resolution 3D, but who cares about 3D anymore? Meanwhile, I have no doubt that virtually every developer will stick to 1080p for their rendering action and more ambitious titles will chase the crazy resolution.