A key selling point of the next-gen PlayStation and Xbox consoles can’t be used on the vast majority of TVs

Posted: October 5, 2020 in Industry, Opinion Piece

By Bill Gilbert, Business Insider

This November, Microsoft’s new Xbox and Sony’s new PlayStation are scheduled to go head-to-head in a competition for control over the next generation of video game consoles.

With that new generation comes the next major leap in graphics technology: Both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X are boasting 4K-resolution games at a stunningly high refresh rate of 120 hertz. What that means in English is crisp image quality paired with smooth motion. Games on both new consoles are promised to look better than ever.

Websites for the Xbox Series X, left, and the PlayStation 5 highlight the visual capability of their respective consoles.
Microsoft/Sony

Whether your television is actually capable of producing those visuals, however, is another question.

For a television to display 4K-resolution games running at such high frame rates, it needs to support those specs — and the vast majority of TVs do not, including many new sets that support both 4K resolution and HDR visuals. That’s because TVs with support for such high frame rates with 4K resolutions are still brand new, and most are still prohibitively expensive.

You’re looking at $950 on the low end — and much higher if you want something larger than 55 inches — for TVs that support those specs. Beyond producing 4K-resolution visuals at 120 Hz, TVs that fully support the next-gen consoles also need a new type of HDMI port to handle all that data: HDMI 2.1.

The latest version of HDMI is available on only the newest modern TVs — many existing 4K and HDR TVs don’t have it, and there’s no way to upgrade an existing port.

In so many words: If you want to take full advantage of the power of the coming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles, you’ll almost certainly need a new television.

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