Sony has pushed out a new system update to PlayStation 4 Pro to update its built-in Media Player app. With the new update, PS4 Pro owners will be able to play 4K videos in MP4 format. You can play them from a USB stick or stream them from a home server. Interestingly, the 4K-capable PlayStation 4 Pro console does not support physical 4K Blu-ray media.

Sony PlayStation 4 Pro PS4 Pro
Image Credit: Sony Corporation

It also supports 4K virtual reality playback

You can play 4K content in the media player app only in MP4 format. You are out of luck if you have MKV or other files. Sony announced in a blog post that your home server would automatically appear as a media option in the Player app, making it easier to find media. Notably, USB storage will not work if the external device has been formatted as extended storage for the console.

The USB devices that have been formatted as additional storage for your PlayStation 4 Pro can be used only to save apps and games. The Japanese company added USB external storage support only a few weeks ago with the 4.50 firmware update for PS4. Sony hasn’t clarified whether the update would also support HDR content. Streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Video do not support HDR via PS4’s Media Player app.

Microsoft’s Xbox One S is far less powerful than PS4 Pro, but it supports 4K Blu-ray playback. When it comes to HDR, Netflix is the only streaming service that supports HDR content on the Xbox One S. Microsoft’s console uses HEVC and VP9 codecs to play 4K content.

Sony added that the Media Player update would also support 4K virtual reality playback. Of course, you can enjoy it only if you own both the PlayStation 4 Pro and PlayStation VR headset. Sony’s virtual reality headset offers 1080p resolution. But the company said 4K virtual reality videos would be displayed “in a higher image quality” than HD VR videos. It means now you can capture 360-degree 4K footage and immerse yourself in high-quality VR.

Sony planning to launch a slimmer PlayStation 4 Pro

Sony is expected to announce the list of PlayStation Plus freebies on March 29th. The company has already revealed that Drawn to Death is coming to the PlayStation Plus subscribers on April 4th. Sony is expected to announce the full list of games on March 29, as it has traditionally revealed the list six days before the games go live.

Meanwhile, supply chain sources told DigiTimes that Sony was working to launch a thinner PS4. That’s interesting given that the Japanese company already offers a slim, low-cost PlayStation 4 Slim to consumers. It has led experts to believe that Sony might bring a slimmer version of the PlayStation 4 Pro, which is somewhat clunky. Sony has launched two consoles since September last year. The availability of more devices has only boosted its sales.

PS5 only about a year away?

Amid strong sales of various iterations of PS4, many believe that Sony wouldn’t launch the PlayStation 5 until 2020. However, Macquarie Research analyst Damian Thong expects the company to come up with PS5 in the second half of 2018. He argues that the PlayStation 4 Pro will be no match to Microsoft’s upcoming Project Scorpio, which is dubbed as the world’s most powerful console.

Thong says Sony needs to launch PS5 sometime in 2018 to challenge the Project Scorpio. The analyst predicts the PS5 to feature native 4K streaming and ten teraflops of graphics processing power. By comparison, Microsoft’s Scorpio will have only six teraflops of power. The current generation of consoles offer 4K support simply by upscaling 2K or 1080p output. Future consoles like PS5 and Project Scorpio would provide native 4K support.