Since then, specifications have risen and prices have dropped and there's even been the introduction of high dynamic range (HDR).
And fortunately, the amount of content you can watch in 4K has gone from very little to a huge amount these days. There are now plenty of films and TV shows from the major streaming services and live sports to enjoy.
But just how much 4K content is out there, where can you find it and which shows should you be looking out for to best show off your screen?Advertisement
What 4K content is available to watch online?
The two easiest ways to watch 4K via the internet is through Netflix and Amazon Video. The two video streaming giants have seriously committed to 4K content and film the majority of their original TV shows and movies in the format. Both also offer a selection of films in 4K Ultra HD, although some of the films on Amazon need to be bought or rented.
Better still, both also stream their original content with HDR too, and both even offer Dolby Vision HDR with select titles. YouTube also has a plethora of content available in 4K too.
NetflixNetflix was one of the first video streaming services to offer 4K content with season 2 of House of Cards being the first to be 4K ready. Since then, it's library of content has expanded and now includes 26 titles across TV shows, movies and documentaries.
You will need to make sure your 4K TV has an HDMI 2.0 connection and supports HDCP 2.2 if you want to stream from an external player. The majority of 4K TVs released nowadays should have these, but it's worth double checking. Most Smart 4K TVs also have a native Netflix app installed or available.
There are a number of payment options listed below.
- £5.99 per month for 1 screen viewing and downloads on 1 device in standard definition
- £7.99 per month for 2 screen viewing in HD and downloads on 2 devices
- £9.99 per month for 4 screen viewing in 4K Ultra HD and downloads of 4 devices
- 4K and 4K HDR Smart TVs - Dolby Vision on LG TVs
- 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players
- Google Chromecast Ultra, Apple TV, Roku
- Freeview set-top boxes
- iOS and Android mobile devices
Amazon Prime Video has a wide range of 4K TV shows and movies available to stream, with a number of original TV shows available for free as part of a Prime membership. Films are available to stream but these need to be paid for or rented. Amazon Prime Video also offers Dolby Vision on select titles.
- £79 peryear for a Prime membership
- £5.99 per month for just Prime Video
- Rent films from 99p to £6.99
- Buy films from £4.99 to £13.99
- 4K and 4K HDR Smart TVs
- Xbox One, Playstation 4
- Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
- Blu-ray players
- Amazon Fire Tablets, iOS and Android mobile devices
- Media streamers, set-top boxes
YouTube has been supporting 4K content with videos uploaded as far back as 2010 having the higher resolution format. Since November 2016, YouTube has also started supporting HDR videos too, but to watch both, you'll need to have compatible hardware.
Because anyone can upload content to YouTube, there's likely to be more videos available to watch, although their production values may not be as high as what you'll find on Netflix and Amazon. But there is an array of 4K content and new movie trailers are always available to view for major releases in 4K.
- 4K HDR Smart TVs
- PlayStation 4 Pro
- Chromecast Ultra
- Computer that supports VP9 codec and a 4K compatible monitor
How can I watch 4K content on TV?
- Sky Q, BT Sport, Virgin TV V6 box, Ultra HD Blu-ray
For a long time the only way you could watch 4K content was via one of the streaming services mentioned above, as there wasn't any Ultra HD broadcast content on TV. That's all changed now as BT, Sky and Virgin Media offer a few ways to watch 4K content via a set-top box.
When Sky Q launched, it claimed it would have the UK's most comprehensive selection of 4K content to watch, either live or on demand. They weren't wrong, as the service has a huge selection of films and TV shows to view on demand and an extensive selection of live sporting events.
On demand content needs to be downloaded to your box before you can watch it, although once a certain percentage has downloaded you can start viewing. Sky Q doesn't currently offer HDR content.
Sky also offers a wide range of 4K movies through the Sky Store to rent or buy.
What you'll need:
- Sky Q 2TB box
- Sky Cinema and/or Sky Sports pack
- Compatible 4K Ultra HD TV
- £199 for Sky Q 2TB box without Sky Multi-Screen. £60 with Sky Q Multi-Screen at £12 per month.
- Sky Box Sets TV bundle for £38/month
- Sky Cinema for £18/month
- Sky Sports for £27.50/month
BT Sport Ultra HD
BT was the first broadcaster in the UK to launch a live Ultra HD service. However, that service is limited to one sporting channel, which only shows a small amount of 4K sporting events.
Nevertheless, if it's just sports you're interested in, BT's offering could be worth considering, as it's cheaper than Sky Q and BT TV runs on the YouView platform. Because the box is Ultra HD compatible, you can also watch 4K Netflix though it too, if you have subscribed.
What you'll need:
- BT YouView+ Ultra HD box
- Total Entertainment TV package
- Compatible 4K TV
- Total Entertainment currently £10 per month if you already have BT Infinity fibre broadband
- BT Sport - free
- Total Entertainment + BT Infinity Fibre broadband + line rental
Virgin TV V6 box
Virgin Media's latest V6 box, powered by TiVo, can one-up its Sky Q rival in that it can support 4K HDR content.
At launch there was limited 4K content available, with the only ways being through Netflix and YouTube. But Virgin Media has said its box is primed and ready for when 4K broadcasts in the near future.
What you'll need:
- Virgin TV V6 box
- TV package - prices tbc
- Compatible 4K HDR TV
Which is your favourite 4K option and why did you choose it?