“I have a 4K tv. I assumed I could with a 6s record a 4K video, connect it via the thunderbolt Hdmi connector and presto watch 4K. But the tv says is only 1080. Am I missing something? Is there a way to connect my phone directly to my tv and output 4K resolution? Thanks. “
4K TV has gone from being the future of TV to a firm reality. 4K Ultra HD has essentially four times the pixel density of 1080p. It’s 2160p, or 3840 x 2160. Given the leap in quality from standard definition to 1080p, just imagine the crisp visuals of native 4K content on a 4K display. There’s an ever increasing range of TVs on sale, with prices dropping at a healthy rate. That said, there still remains the issue of 4K content…
From our experience, Ultra HD can look incredible, delivering impressive detail and clarity. But when it comes to 4K video content, for a long time we struggled to find much other than promotional videos of flowers and cityscapes. That’s finally started to change…
Video-on-demand streaming services such as YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video all offer films and TV shows, some free, some paid-for. But the biggest news is that Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and players are here. While they were promised before the end of 2015, we had to wait until March 2016 to see the Panasonic DMP-UB900 in our test rooms. The good news is we’ll eventually see more and more discs appear on sale in the UK and it’s not just the very latest releases that will be given the high-resolution treatment.
As for 4K broadcasts, BT was the first out the blocks with its BT Sport Ultra HD channel, but Sky plans to take things further by offering a range of 4K channels with its Sky Q platform. Sports will be the obvious place to start for ultra high-def pictures, and Sky has confirmed the entire2017 F1 season will be broadcast in 4K, but it’s expected Sky will be showing plenty more besides.
But until then, allow us to round up the different ways you can watch 4K content right now…
Best Way: Use a professional 4K Video Converter for Putting 4K Videos on TV
How to enjoy any videos on 4K TV? Don’t worry. From TV official product page you will learn that 4K/3D/HD TV only supports MP4 video format from USB flash drive, if you have videos or movies in other video formats like MKV, AVI, WMV, FLV, MOV, MP4, MTS, VOB, M2TS, AVCHD, etc. In that case, a third-party 4K to TV Converter is needed.
Here, Pavtube Video Converter Ultimate is highly recommended here, this program is a completely professional 4K video converter, player and editor. Developed with the most advanced converting technology, this professional 4K video converter truly and fully supports input and output videos at upto 4K resolution. With it, you can convert H.265 4K as well as 4K XAVC/XAVC S, 4K MP4/MOV/MXF, etc for playback on Ultra HDTV (Samsung Smart TV, Sony Bravia TV, Panasonic Viera TV, LG 3D/LED/LCD TV and so on) freely. This Ultra Blu-ray/DVD/HD Video Converter is also available to customize the output resolutions to any size the users want for better editing, playing, and burning. If you are a Mac users, please click to get Mac Version have a try.
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It can convert MKV, AVI, MP4, Tivo, WMV, MOV, FLV, 3GP, VRO, TS, etc video in H.265, H.263, DivX, XviD, MPEG codec to your TV supported video formats and codec at fast speed. It provides users with TV optimized preset equipped most compatible A/V parameters for TV. You can adjust video resolution to 2160p, 1080, 720p to adapt to your TV models.
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Note: If you want to play all kinds of 4K video files on TV, you have to use an external tool. Because TV doesn’t support all the types of 4K files and you need to compress 4K files to 1080p video which TV can play successfully.
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How to watch 4K video on Netflix
Netflix was one of the first video-on-demand services to announce it would be supporting 4K streaming. It stuck to its promise, and in April 2014, it went live in the UK. But in order to access the content, you need to have the right kit.
To watch Netflix 4K online your 4K TV will need to support the HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding)/H.265 compression standard. The first generation of 4K TVs didn’t support this, instead coming with the H.264 codec, which doesn’t support most of the 4K content now available.
You’ll also need to make sure your 4K TV (or other necessary kit) has an HDMI 2.0 connection that is HDCP 2.2 compliant. This ensures copy protection compliance for 4K content.
If you have a non-compatible 4K TV, all is not lost – manufacturers can release software updates. Panasonic, for example, has released a software update for its AX802 series (you can read the What Hi-Fi? review of the 58in version) which means it can now stream Netflix in 4K.
Alternatively, you can connect a separate box, such as the Amazon Fire TV (2015), to your TV and stream Netflix, as well as Amazon Instant Video in 4K.
The simplest way to see if your set is compatible is to check it against this full list of Netflix 4K compatible TVs.
You will also need to sign up to Netflix’s 4K Ultra HD plan, which costs £8.99/month. This subscription plan comes with the added benefit of the user(s) being able to watch content on up to four screens at any one time, all from the one account.
And finally, you need a solid Internet connection. Netflix recommends a speed of at least 25Mbps, but ideally higher, for streaming 4K video.
Once you’ve ticked all those boxes, you’re ready to start watching – but what content is out there? It’s low on 4K movies but high(er) on 4K TV shows.
At first Netflix only had a few TV shows and some scenic footage to show in 4K. However the amount of content on offer has grown considerably and now includes 16 TV series including House of Cards, Breaking Bad, Marco Polo and Daredevil. There are also a few documentaries and a couple of Netflix original movies in the pipeline. You can find a full list of what 4K content is live on Netflix here.
How to watch 4K on Amazon
Amazon is also offering 4K content through its Prime Instant Video streaming service. For those with Prime memberships, a range of Amazon Original TV shows are available at no extra cost.
You can watch 4K video through the Amazon Instant Video app on compatible TVs and the latest 4K Fire TV box. You can see a full list of Amazon Instant Video devices here – note this is a list of devices that are compatible with the movie streaming app as a whole and not necessarily 4K content.
The Amazon 4K service was initially available only on Sony 4K TVs, but the very latest models from most of the major manufacturers should now come with the app pre-installed. If you have an older set you may need to perform a software update.
Amazon’s service offers a good selection of 4K films and TV shows. You’ll find TV shows, including many Amazon Originals shows such as Alpha House Season 2, Mad Dogs, Transparent and Red Oaks, all available in 4K and all included in the Prime price. Mozart in the Jungle and Red Oaks are also available to stream with High Dynamic Range (HDR).
Films available to stream include The Amazing Spider-Man 2 , Moneyball and The Da Vinci Code – these are on a pay-as-you-go basis. The rental price is £6.99 (not all films can be rented) while the price to buy outright ranges from £14.99 to £22.99.
How to watch 4K on YouTube
YouTube has been supporting 4K Ultra HD video since 2010, but as with the previous two services, there are requirements. YouTube Ultra HD videos don’t use H.265 compression, instead, it uses another codec called VP9. The VP9 codec is royalty-free, meaning its adoption rate could potentially be higher, and it’s said by some to be more efficient when it comes to streaming Ultra HD video over the Internet.
So how do you watch 4K YouTube videos online? Google implemented the VP9 codec into its Chrome browser and YouTube back in 2013, so both have been able to support 4K streams for some time. If you search 4K content within YouTube right now, you’ll be able to select 4K as a quality option on each video.
But, as with HEVC/H.265, VP9 needs compatible hardware, i.e. a 4K screen, to watch. Most PCs nowadays should support the VP9 codec, but it’s something to keep an eye out for if you’re buying a new one.
If you don’t have a compatible display, the video will be downsampled to the maximum output of your display.
Where else can you stream 4K video?
UltraFlix is a 4K streaming network from NanoTech, and has apps available on Samsung, Sony, Vizio, Sharp and Hisense TVs. The 4K UltraFlix Network App claims to offer the “world’s largest libary of 4K VOD content”, including “hours of free content”.
Content includes movies, concerts, documentaries, special events and even 40 made-for-IMAX theatrical titles.
We were able to access the app through a 2016 Sony TV, but prices for content are in US dollars. We watched some free content but noticed it wanted to buffer quite a bit, even with an 18 mbps Internet connection.
However Ultraflix’s claims of an extensive catalogue certainly hold true, so it’s highly likely you’ll find your favourite films through the service.
What about 4K on PlayStation Video?
Sony launched its own 4K Video On Demand service in the form of Video Unlimited 4K, which sat alongside its Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited services. The service has since been rebranded as PlayStation Video.
The service includes 4K content, but only in the US. To access 4K content you need one of Sony’s 4K Media Players, such as the FMP-X1, or one of selected US Sony 4K TVs. Costs for the films from Sony’s service ranged from $7.99 for a 24-hour rental to $30 to buy. Sony says it has “no plans” to bring the 4K Media Player to the UK.
For now, you can’t watch 4K video or 4K games on the PlayStation (nor indeed on the Xbox).
Sony is also due to be launching a new Ultra app, which will bring 4K video to selected Android 4K TVs. Again, only in the US for now.
How to watch 4K Blu-ray
For many, getting a broadband connection that’s fast enough to support 4K streaming (realistically at the very least 30 Mbps) isn’t possible right now. Therefore a better way to get 4K content into the home would be on a disc format.
The good news is Ultra HD Blu-ray is here. Discs that can handle resolutions up to 3840 x 2160 and up to 60fps can be classed as Ultra HD and the format also supports high dynamic range (HDR), higher frame rates (up to 60 frames per second) and object-based immersive sound, such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
HDR pictures can be delivered in one of two ways: either using the BDA-developed “BD HDR” section of the new specification, or via compatible HDR formats such as Dolby Vision. Video is encoded under the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard, and uses 10-bit colour depth and the Rec. 2020 colour space.
You will of course need a new Ultra HD Blu-ray player to play the discs. We’ve already seen the Panasonic DMP-UB900 and awarded it the full five stars, but we’ve still yet to see Samsung’s UBD-K8500. And there are now 4K discs on sale in the UK.
The good news for disc lovers? There’s a strong argument that 4K Blu-ray beats 4K streaming…
What about watching 4K TV broadcasts?
BT became the first broadcaster to bring an Ultra HD channel to the UK, with the launch of BT Sport Ultra HD. The new channel launched in August 2015 and promises to show around one live Ultra HD event per week.
The focus will primarily be on football, but other events including the MotoGP, NBA basketball and Aviva Premiership rugby will also be shown throughout the year.
The channel will be supported by the majority of 4K TVs released in 2014/15, but you will need to subscribe to the Ultra HD package at £15/month, have an Infinity Fibre broadband connection and get the new BT Ultra HD box fitted.
Sky is claiming it will offer the “UK’s most comprehensive Ultra High Definition service” through its Sky Q platform, which is set to add 4K content in summer 2016, and has confirmed the 2017 F1 season will be broadcast in 4K.
What about 4K on the BBC or ITV? Don’t hold your breath – even if the BBC did say it would aim to broadcast 4K as standard by 2016. Hmm…
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