The PlayStation 4 Pro is built to take advantage of two bleeding-edge display technologies: 4K resolution and high dynamic range (HDR) color. But some people are reporting that the new console isn’t working properly with their 4K television, and it appears that the PS4’s latest system software is at fault.
It seems like the PS4 Pro ships with PS4 system software update version 4.0 installed. That’s not the latest firmware, however — Sony released a minor update, v4.05, in late October. Unfortunately, something seems to be out of whack with the firmware.
"Plugged my Pro in and it booted up in beautiful 2160p," wrote Bravo514 on Reddit. "Then it asked me to update to 4.05. After update - no signal. I thought my Pro was fried."
Bravo514 certainly isn’t alone in being affected by this mysterious issue. For Redditor biostang, "just leaving the Pro in 1080p on the 4K/60hz input causes the TV to go blank for a few seconds every ten minutes." NeoGAF user Lucifon is getting nothing but a black screen, and the audio cuts out every few seconds.
These reports appear to be coming primarily from owners of LG, Hisense and Vizio TVs, especially older units. (I own a Vizio P50-C1, which is a 2016 model, and I have had no issues using my PS4 Pro with the TV; another Polygon staffer’s PS4 Pro is working fine with his Samsung KS8000.)
Thankfully, people have come up with a workaround, although it’s not successful for everyone. Here’s what worked for owners of Vizio’s D-Series and M-Series TVs — the 2015 models — courtesy of Redditor Bravo514:
1. Make sure your PS4 is off
2. Plug the HDMI into the 4K 60hz port on your tv
3. Turn your tv on
4. Hold down the power button on your PS4 until it beeps twice (Safe mode)
5. Change HDCP setting to 1.4 only
6. PS4 will restart and you'll probably still have no signal
7. Turn PS4 off and get back to Safe Mode (step 4)
8. Choose change resolution which will restart PS4
9. If you get an image after PS4 restarts then choose the yuv420 option. Hooray!
10. If you got no signal still after PS4 restarted then go back to safe mode and go back to HDCP and choose automatic
11. [Go] back to safe mode again and choose change resolution and then choose yuv420
If still not working then try the above steps a couple more times
That last note isn’t very encouraging, is it?
The issue appears to be related to HDCP, the digital copy protection that’s built into the HDMI connection between the PS4 Pro and the TV. Sony launched the PS4 in 2013 with HDMI 1.4, the then-current HDMI specification. The introduction of HDR has brought forth HDMI 2.0a along with HDCP 2.2, the latest version of the port and its copy protection. That’s why the PS4 Pro box includes a high-speed HDMI cable that supports HDMI 2.0.
HDMI 1.4 can handle 4K resolution, but its 4K support is limited to video signals at 30 Hz (or 30 frames per second). HDMI 2.0 is required in order to handle the increased bandwidth required by a 4K feed at 60 Hz. And although all PS4s — including non-Pro consoles — can deliver HDR as of mid-September’s v4.0 firmware update, HDR technically requires HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2.
There are a few factors here that further complicate the situation. For one, most 4K TVs have at least one HDMI port that does not support those brand-new HDMI specifications. (My Vizio TV’s first four HDMI inputs are HDMI 2.0a ports, while the fifth one is only HDMI 1.4.) So if you have a 4K TV, check to see if your PS4 Pro is plugged into one of the right HDMI ports; if you’re thinking of buying a 4K TV, make sure you do your homework regarding its HDMI ports.
Secondly, some TVs require you to change a specific setting that enables support for HDR. With my Vizio TV, I had to enable something called "HDMI Color Subsampling" on each HDMI port; on Sony TVs, users have to set "HDMI signal format" to "enhanced format"; the feature is listed under "HDMI UHD Color" for Samsung and "HDMI Ultra HD Deep Color" for LG.
Homework is also key when it comes to HDR and game mode, a common feature that turns off extra image processing in an effort to reduce input lag. Many 4K TVs will disable HDR if game mode is enabled, forcing people to turn off game mode if they want to play games in HDR — and thus, to deal with much higher latency while gaming.
There’s an even bigger issue that makes the aforementioned fix for this problem a temporary workaround rather than a permanent solution. While it has been possible since the spring of 2014 to disable HDCP on a PS4 (to facilitate game capture), doing so will prevent users from launching most streaming video apps. If you put the PS4 Pro in safe mode and set the console to HDCP 1.4 rather than HDCP 2.2, streaming services like Amazon Video and Netflix may work, but they will not output in 4K.
With the reports coming in from owners of TVs across multiple brands, it’s possible that the manufacturers in question may need to release firmware updates for their TVs in order to address this issue. But it seems more likely that the fault lies with Sony and the PS4’s latest firmware. We’ve reached out to Sony for comment on the issue, and will update this article with any information we receive.