The History Of Trying (And Failing) To Demonstrate The Future Of Technology

One of the biggest problems facing Sony and the PlayStation 4 Pro is actually demonstrating some of the advantages that it has over the existing PlayStation 4 and your average, run-of-the-mill 1080p TV screen. When it costs not just £350 to get the console, but a further £500-1000 to get a TV capable of extracting the best visuals from it, that’s a pretty big hurdle for Sony to overcome.

It’s not the only hurdle that they have, as they try to convinces millions of people to venture into the comparative unknown of PlayStation VR, spending £350 on a form of technology that is still very much in its infancy.

We’ve been here before countless times. Technology is constantly on the march, with companies striving to find that next big thing, develop it and then market it to your average punter. Very often, with audiovisual tech, that comes through bizarre simulated demonstrations of how big a difference you’ll see if you get off your arse and head down to the shops – where hugely oversaturated, eye-catching TVs and unbalanced, overly loud sound systems are waiting for you.

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Let’s just look back at how DVDs were marketed on VHS tapes.

Doesn’t all that face pulling remind you of something?

Or perhaps this Japanese equivalent from TGS this year?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqNnLTzCoe0

Ok, there’s fewer tacky radio host soundeffects, the camera’s a bit further away from the player faces, but it’s still giving you the same “this is how you’ll feel” schtick.

Things definitely got a little less hyperactive by the time HD DVD and Blu-ray came around. Remember HD DVD? This is how HD DVD looks… according to a 4:3 video that was put onto standard DVDs.

And coming back on brand, here’s Sony’s demo showcase for the eventual winner of the HD wars, Blu-ray.

There, both Toshiba and Sony got to focus quite a bit on the added features that their discs brought to viewing a film, but you don’t really have that from 4K and HDR. There’s nothing quite so tangible without seeing them in the flesh.

Even on the PlayStation Blogs, Sony say, “It’s actually impossible to demonstrate the true benefits of HDR technology here because you need an HDR-enabled screen and content to experience it.” However, that’s not to say there aren’t some simulations which, having seen the difference first hand, do actually do a relatively decent job of showing you the change, if not what HDR will actually look like.

Really, it’s all about getting people to head into a shop and see what 4K and HDR is really like. I know plenty of people who have done so in the wake of last week’s PlayStation Meeting, but a major point to bear in mind is that HDR is still in its infancy. It’s literally only been added as a TV technology in TVs this past year, as an added incentive to get UHD TVs moving off the shelves.

The tricky thing is that, while HDR is a very cheap, almost free addition to games in terms of processing power, that’s not the case in the TV itself, and it currently always adds latency. Finding a TV with low HDR latency at the moment is a difficult and expensive task, and one that will hopefully become much easier in the next year or two.

By the way, since we’re digging through old demo videos, let’s look back on how Microsoft tried to sell people on the notion of Xbox Live back in 2002…

Ah, the early 00’s…

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5 Comments

  1. The thing is, the difference between VHS/DVD, PS2/PS3, etc.. back then was so clear. The difference between current and new technology these days is barely noticeable, imo. Certainly not enough to make me upgrade all the stuff I bought 5 years ago.

  2. Haha, i’ve rolled my eyes at a few of those “this is bluray! – as demo’ed on dvd” trailers in the past.
    I didn’t realise 4k tvs were selling so cheap though but i just looked and Argos have a Bush 40″ 4k UHD tv for 350 euros, amazing price but probably not a very good 4k tv and i wouldn’t buy Bush anyway – but i’ve just spent the same money on a 1080p tv..
    Oh well, if i had a 4k tv it would just be more temptation to go for the PS4 Pro!

  3. Some of those videos are so cringey, that bit in the DVD one where the widescreen picture comes out of a 4:3 telly… but is still within a 4:3 video, brilliant!
    Yep, I totally agree seeing is believing, maybe that’s why Sony chose the Matrix code names for the VR products? That Morpheus line ‘Nobody can be shown… you have to see it for yourself.’ Actually, I’ve just realised it’s probably because the film was about VR :P
    Er, anyone remember the SEGA R360?

  4. Good job I have my 4K tv then. PSVR and PS4 on pre order. It’s a good year

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