We’re at a key turning point when it comes to 4K content. Companies are just about ready to break out a vast among of 4K content, including all the latest movies and entire channels streaming 4K shows. But it’s not happening yet – we’re in a strange limbo period now, where real 4K content is still thin, especially when it comes to streaming video services. To help you track down what content is available, we’ve put together a list of all the ways you can watch 4K, and what offerings each method provides. Remember, this is all subject to constant change, but it’s a good indicator of what to expect.
Note: It’s also important to remember that 4K isn’t just about the content. You also need the best 4k HD TV, right cables (later-generation HDMI or DisplayPort are required) and hardware to handle 4K video, or it’s not going to be 4K. This means a set-top box or Blu-Ray player that can accept 4K: This includes Fire TV, Roku 4, and Nvidia Shield. More options are coming all the time here as well, but it’s worth noting that the current generation of game consoles (PS4, Xbox One), cannot handle 4K content, although updated versions of those consoles planned for 2017 will be able to.
Amazon Instant Video
Amazon Instant Video is primarily interested in offering 4K TV for its original programming, which is great news for Amazon fans: Shows like Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle are offered in 4K though you’ll have to settle for full HD if you’re watching Man in the High Castle. But there are a few extras as well, such as the popular Orphan Black, Alpha House. When it comes to movies, Amazon is a bit more random. There’s a handful that include The Martian, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Philadelphia, and The Amazing Spiderman.
Netflix has made an effort to start releasing its new shows in Ultra HD 4K, which means you can watch the latest episodes of House of Cards and Marco Polo in 4K. It also managed to nab very popular shows like Breaking Bad and The Blacklist in 4K. It’s movies however, are hit or miss and perhaps even worse than Amazon. Beyond a few Netflix documentaries, the major hits so far have been Smurfs 2 and Jerry Macguire, plus (like Amazon) Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Philadelphia.
Ultraflix is a tiny little Netflix competitor that nonetheless manages to offer up some 4K content for its cinema offerings, which include IMAX-rated films and concert events. The movies here include the original Robocop, Interstellar, IP Man, Rocket, and Fargo – a more encouraging line-up. Concerts include Muse, Elton John, and Usher. IMAX films in 4K include nature docs like The Last Reef, The Live Sea, and Yellowstone.
Yes, YouTube has 4K content! Well, some channels do. The problem is that 4K content is limited by which users have the ability to upload it. This means that completely amateur or random productions might be 4K. A lot of tech companies also use YouTube to advertise their 4K content in small clips that could be anything from commercials to brief documentaries. In other words, it’s hard to know what you’ll find. Search for “4K content” and see what pops up!
Vudu has gone a little more mainstream when it comes to offering 4K movies (sorry, no TV shows here). The service includes the ability to watch San Andreas, Man of Steel, Sherlock Holmes, Magic Mike XXL, and The LEGO Movie in UltraHD.
Sony has a couple different 4K options. One is its PlayStation Video app, which is designed specifically for 4K content and doesn’t make you search for it in a sea of 1080p. This is one of the largest offerings on the list and includes the ability to rent around 200 movies and TV shows. This includes most of the offerings we’ve already seen like Breaking Bad and The Amazing Spider Man, as well as options we haven’t seen like Moneyball, Evil Dead, Godzilla, Pineapple Express, and more. Sony also offers an Ultra streaming services for non-gamers that includes many of the same titles.
If you have a Samsung 4K TV, you may be able to get Samsung Ultra HD video packs, which are… weird. They exist mostly as pricey advertisements for 4K, but they do include movies in 4K like Star Trek: Into Darkness, Life of Pi, The Counselor, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Comcast does have 4K content on its services… but for now, it’s just a “sampler” that only offers a few NBC shows in 4K. This include Suits, Parks and Rec, and Chicago Fire. Like everything else on the list, this is in a state of transition as Comcast no doubt has plans to soon roll out more official 4K content – including an expected set-top box called the X1.
DirecTV currently offers around twenty 4K movies and is working on providing channels of 4K content as well. For now the movies are a little thin, but include Transformers: Age of Extinction, Forrest Gump, and The Ultimate Wave Tahiti.
M-Go is another weird little limbo service that requires the right Samsung hard drive (mentioned above), which provides access to addition streaming content on this service. That includes shows like Powers and Spartacus, thankfully, and a collection of random movies that includes Die Hard, Home Alone, The Giver, The Wolverine, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, and 3 Days to Kill.
It’s not exactly streaming, but disc-based 4K deserves a mention. With Blu-ray, it’s best to just look at the case and see if its 4K. Some movies are getting 4K TV remakes, while many of the newest movies to come out have been mastered in 4K as well. You can find The Fifth Element, Lawrence of Arabia, Taxi Driver, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and quite a few others in 4K, along with pretty much anything that hit theaters in mid 2015/early 2016 and later. Keep in mind that a 4K mastered Blu-ray disc isn’t the same as a true UHD Blu-ray disk, which requires a special player. UHD Blu-ray players are just now hitting the market, and offer the best video quality available at this point because their compression is much lower than streamed content, and they also support HDR playback.