In addition to having the ability to play physical and digital media in native 4K, the new Xbox One S console is also able to upscale games from their current resolution to 4K. If you have a capable television, you will be able to reap the benefits of these features. What I hope to accomplish in this article is to explain a little bit about 4K, the process of upscaling, and if there will be any perceived visual difference.
Native 4K Resolution
Native 4K is also referred to as 2160p and has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 (16:9 or approximately a 1.78:1 aspect ratio), twice the horizontal and vertical resolution of a 1080p screen. In comparison 1080p has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 with a similar aspect ratio. 4KUHD enabled TV’s have the ability to display 4 times as many pixels on the screen as those only capable of 1080p, so we can see the statistical difference between the two resolutions as also shown on the diagram below.
The Xbox one S will not have the ability to play games in native 4K resolution, we will have to wait until next year when the Scorpio drops for that. What the console DOES do is upscale games to 4K resolution. What is 4K upscaling and what sort of benefits if any will it provide for those with 4K TV’s? In order to present a lower resolution image onto a 4K capable screen the image must go through a process referred to as upscaling. The process increases the pixel count of the lower resolution image, allowing it to be formatted properly for the increased image space. Since the original source image doesn’t change, there wont be any additional detail added in the image but there may be a bit of added smoothness to the finished image. Truth is there is no real substitute for a native 4K image and no amount of upscaling will be able to duplicate that clarity.
Click on the images below and you will be able to see the subtle differences between the upscaled 4K image and a standard 1080p image via Visio’s upscaling processes.
The process of upscaling differentiates based on each company and their relative scaling processes, and the efficiency and quality of the Xbox One S’s upscaling ability is yet to be seen. A good note for the device is that it will be able to natively display Blu-Ray and Stream movies and TV programs in 4K with HDR via Netflix and Amazon apps. The Xbox One S will be available on Aug 2nd and we look forward to seeing just how effective Microsoft’s upscaling is when it comes to their games.