The Sony PlayStation 4 Pro won't play 4K Blu-rays -- even though Xbox will

Even though Sony helped create and popularize the Blu-ray disc format, the company's flagship console won't play the latest version.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
Sarah Tew/CNET
Watch this: Sony unveils PlayStation 4 Pro

We probably wouldn't have Blu-ray movie discs today if it weren't for Sony. It championed the format, and Sony's PlayStation 3 game console led the charge. Sony bet on Blu-ray, Microsoft bet on HD-DVD, and HD-DVD lost. It's all ancient history now.

But soon, Microsoft and Sony may be swapping roles. Sony's 4K-ready PlayStation 4 Pro game console won't support 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays -- even though Microsoft's existing Xbox One S already can.

"It does not have a 4K Blu-ray drive," said a Sony representative when we asked.

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The new PlayStation 4 Slim and PlayStation 4 Pro.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Maybe Sony has bigger fish to fry these days. It's pushing virtual reality with its PlayStation VR headgear (coming October 13), and with streaming services like PlayStation Now and PlayStation Vue, perhaps Sony's betting that a cloud of internet services will be the preferred way to watch movies anyhow. (It might already be true.)

Even if Sony expects you to download those 4K movies instead of streaming them, it looks like Sony's making it easier to swap a new hard drive into these consoles than ever before.

It's just a little bit weird to watch this role reversal -- particularly when Sony's also been pushing 4K for so long.