The way we watch TV and movies is constantly evolving, and the speed in which the technology is changing in recent years is only accelerating. No longer satisfied with simple HD television, many of us now want to stream the latest content in ultra 4K high-definition – the latest technology in bringing seriously crisp pictures to our screens.
But how do we watch 4K content, either online or offline? First of all, you will need a 4K-ready TV or computer/laptop. But once you have one of these, you will still need to find platforms that support 4K streaming. Read this guide for the lowdown on the best places to watch 4K TV and films.
The most popular streaming site in the UK, if not the world, Netflix was also the first site to support 4K streaming in this country, launching its service in April 2014. In order to enjoy the best shows Netflix has to offer in ultra-high definition, your smart TV will need to support High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC)/H.265 compression standard – which all should do unless they are older, first-generation smart TVs.
You will also need to upgrade your subscription to Netflix Premium, which currently costs £12.99 a month. This package also lets you stream your favourite programmes on up to 4 screens at any one time.
Finally, Netflix recommends that you have a broadband connection that can offer download speeds of at least 25Mbps. However, to receive clear and seamless streaming on multiple devices at once, we recommend that you go for an even faster broadband deal.
Some of the best series to get watch on Netflix in 4K include Breaking Bad, Stranger Things, and The Crown.
The main rival to Netflix’s dominance of the UK’s online streaming market, Amazon Prime is another option when it comes to watching quality shows in 4K. And what makes Amazon stand out is that, as an Amazon Prime Video subscriber, you can enjoy 4K streaming at no extra cost.
However, while it can boast a decent selectin of movies to buy or rent in 4K, the variety of binge-worthy series on offer does not quite match up to that of Netflix. That being said, you can still catch some great Amazon shows on your 4K TV, including The Grand Tour, Mad Men, and American Gods.
The giant behind the iPhone and the MacBook, Apple joined the 4K revolution in September 2017, launching its Apple TV 4K box which allows you to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and more all in glorious ultra-high definition.
The Apple TV app has more than 200 4K films and counting, available to buy for as low as £9.99 and to rent for much cheaper. All you need to access this content is the Apple TV 4K box which starts at £179 and create a free Apple TV account.
One of the newest additions to the streaming market, Disney+ was only launched in the UK at the end of March 2020 and is already offering 4K content to devices that can support it. Like Amazon Prime, no extra fee is needed to watch your movies in 4K, on top of the standard subscription which starts at £5.99 a month.
Films to watch on Disney+ include the entire Star Wars franchise, a ton of Marvel films, over 50 National Geographic documentaries and of course, all your favourite Disney and Pixar classics.
Catch-up TV has been available to stream on BBC iPlayer for years now having been launched in 2007. However, the streaming service is still in the early stages of the 4K revolution, having so far only released Dynasties, Dracula and David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II in ultra-HD for a limited time.
The BBC has previously streamed live sport in 4K, including the 2018 FIFA World Cup and Wimbledon. With major sport currently on hold across the world, we’ll have to wait until Euro 2021 to hopefully watch some football in 4K on the BBC.
4K content has been available to stream on YouTube, the world’s biggest video-sharing platform, since 2010. There are millions of videos on the site, but you won’t find any series feature-length films to watch in ultra-HD. However, there are plenty of movie trailers, music videos and random clips, from the inspiring to the bizarre, for you to enjoy in 4K.
The best thing about YouTube is that you can watch all its 4K content absolutely free. All you need, of course, is a compatible 4K computer or laptop screen, or a 4K-ready smart TV.
Unfortunately, 4K isn’t yet available on standard terrestrial TV, with the BBC only offering ultra-HD content online. However, if you have a subscription, there is plenty of 4K sport available on both Sky Sports and BT Sports.
BT released the UK’s first 4K channel– BT Sport Ultra HD – back in 2015. Meanwhile, Sky launched its Sky Q Ultra H box in 2016. As well as Premier League football and Formula 1 racing, there’s also over 100 movies on Sky Cinema as well as selected box sets and documentaries available in 4K with Sky Q.
To access 4K content, however, you will of course need to have an ultra-HD-ready smart TV and a good broadband connection.
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