4K content guide: What to watch in 4K today
So you bought a new 4K TV and you're wondering what's on. The answer right now is: not much. But the list is growing. Here's a look at what you can watch now in 4K, and what's coming down the pike in the near future.Looking forward to watching your favorite team in 4K? Can't wait to TiVo HBO's 4K broadcasts of "Game of Thrones?" Excited to rebuy the "Lord of the Rings" (Extended Edition) box set on 4K Blu-ray?
Don't hold your breath. 4K TVs might be hurtling toward mainstream prices with the speed of a runaway train, but 4K content, the stuff you can actually watch in 4K today, can seem stalled in the station.
If you want your 4K fix right now, you'd better be a fan of original series on Netflix and Amazon or really want to rewatch movies like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Or you could buy a $700 Sony 4K player and pay $30 per movie.You should also be prepared for the video quality to be very good, but not that much better than regular old 1080p Blu-ray. That's not a surprise since, from what we've seen, the improvement afforded by 4K resolution is minimal at best from normal seating distances. And despite what TV makers and salespeople will tell you, upconverting standard- or high-def video to 4K resolution doesn't make it look appreciably better.
More 4K home video is coming soon, and some of it might actually look great. We certainly hope so. But right now it seems 4K has at least one thing in common with 3D: plenty of TVs can handle it, but the content options are few and far between. And much of it is expensive, proprietary and/or simply not compelling.
With those caveats firmly in place, here's an overview of the 4K content landscape as it stands right now. We're talking home video content here; 4K PC games, arguably a better use for all those pixels, are another story.
Streaming now to most 4K TVs
To watch 4K streaming services you'll typically need a 2014 or newer 4K TV. You can also pair a 2013 Samsung F9000 or S9 with the 2014 OneConnect Evolution kit, or any compatible 2013 4K TV with the Sony FMP-X10 media player, to enable 4K streaming.
Your TV will also need the corresponding smart TV 4K app. If you're used to using your Roku 3 to watch Netflix, for example, you'll need to switch to the TV's embedded 4K app to watch Netflix 4K. That's because special hardware is required to handle the 4K stream -- check out What is HEVC? for more.
The exception from the services below is YouTube, which currently requires a computer for 4K streaming.