This 4k streaming guide will walk you through all the steps needed to your setup working just right so you can enjoy your favorite streaming content in 4k.
Why 4k Streaming Is Better
You've heard of 4k streaming, and it must be better than 2k or 3k streaming because it has more "k's," right? Well, actually, yes. The "k" represents thousands and, in this case, thousands of pixels. 4k, also called Ultra HD or UHD, has four times the pixel resolution of 1080p.
When it comes to HD, more pixels does mean "better," and high resolution streaming delivers a clearer, better-defined picture. This results in remarkable, spectacular images, amazing detail, and incredibly smooth video. Many movie theaters use high resolution digital projectors so streaming 4k in your home is as close to getting a theater version of your favorite movie as you can get.
4k streaming is becoming more available as TVs that support these resolutions are becoming more affordable. If you haven't done it already, now is the time to take the plunge into this beautiful new world you've never seen before in your living room.
4k Streaming Requires Fast Internet Speed
You will need at least 25 Mbps in download speeds to stream in 4k. With lower speeds, the 4k movies will automatically downgrade to a lower quality to avoid buffering. In other words, no matter what the quality the movie has, the quality you end up receiving has everything to do with your internet speed. If you have multiple members of your household streaming 4k movies, you will need 25 Mbps per device. For large households, AT&T provides 300 Mbps on its fiber connection network. Check the streaming speed of your current Internet provider and compare it with other plans to make sure you are ready for the streaming revolution.
Is Your TV 4k Ready?
The resolution of a TV has to do with the number of pixels contained on its screen. A pixel is an individual dot that makes up the image the screen displays. The more pixels the screen has, the more defined the picture quality. Because of this, regardless of the resolution of the movie you are watching, the picture quality you see has everything to do with your TV's resolution. The benefits of 4k streaming will not be fully realized on a TV that is not able to display Ultra HD in all its glory. A 4k TV, or UHD TV, has 3840 x 2160 pixels or 4096 x 2160 pixels meaning that you would need to get very close to the screen to see the pixel structure. You can watch sports, movies, and TV shows fully immersed in the richer graphics simply because of the higher resolution of the screen.
4k Streaming Devices
Once you have your internet and TV ready for 4k streaming, next you will need a device that supports it also to access 4096 × 2160 content. You may be wondering, "What are the best streaming device in 2020?" The answer to this depends on your preferences and streaming habits.
Roku Streaming Stick+
A Roku Stick is a wireless device that plugs right into your TV and gives you access to multiple streaming services and the best stream apps on a menu that you can browse through and make selections with a remote control. The Roku Streaming Stick+ also supports 4k streaming.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
The Amazon Firestick is similar to the Roku stick but also includes Amazon Prime. To support the higher resolution content you will want to get the "Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K".
Although often thought of only as a gaming console, PS4 owners have long-used their PS4s to search the Internet and watch movies and videos as well as to play video games. A PS4 Pro supports the streaming of 4k video games and movies.
A Smart TV connects to the Internet to access streaming services rather than passively receiving a TV signal. A 4K Smart TV has an Ultra HD screen resolution as well as supporting access to 4k streaming services.
An Apple TV is similar to a Smart TV except that it works with iTunes and is compatible with other Apple products such as iPhones and Mac computers and laptops. With the Airplay feature, you can mirror the screen from your other Apple devices directly onto your Apple TV. The Apple TV 4K also has an Ultra HD screen resolution and supports access to 4k streaming services.
4k Streaming Services
Once you have your Internet, TV, and a device to access 4k content, where can you find it? You may be wondering, "Does Hulu stream 4k?" or "Does Netflix stream 4k?" or "Does Disney+ stream 4k?" Well, we've got you covered. There are several options for 4096 × 2160 streaming services. Here are the most popular choices.
Although 4k streaming is available on Netflix, it is not available on all subscription plans. Netflix 4096 × 2160 streaming is only available on Netflix with the Premium subscription. Once you have a Premium subscription, this will not mean that all titles on Netflix will stream in 4k. You will find Ultra HD content under the 4K category on your device menu. Netflix streams 4096 × 2160 movies at 25 Mbps.
Hulu does have 4096 × 2160 streaming capabilities, but it has fewer selections of these movies and fewer devices support Hulu 4k streaming. Apple TV is compatible with Hulu 4096 × 2160 streaming. Other platforms are upgrading to also support Hulu with higher resolutions, so check your device to see if it supports this service. Hulu 4096 × 2160 streams movies at 16 Mbps.
This was one of the first streaming platforms to offer 4096 × 2160 streaming, but you can't search with the term "4k" on the platform to find this content. Amazon calls these movies "Ultra HD." and it's recommended that you have an internet speed of 15 Mbps or higher.
Disney's family-friendly content, including theatrical-blockbuster franchises such as Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar, is now available at no additional cost other than the basic monthly service price. Disney only recommends 10 Mbps, but you should probably go with more to make sure you are avoiding any issues with picture clarity and buffering.
Best 4k Streaming Movies
Now that 4k streaming has become more affordable and more widespread, movies are being released or released in Ultra HD quality. Here are just a few movies that you need to see in Ultra HD.
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight is arguably a masterpiece of the superhero genre and ranks number one by users on Fandango as the best movie to watch on a high resolution TV. Christopher Nolan personally oversaw the remastering of the Batman trilogy into Ultra HD.
Avengers: Infinity War
Although Avengers: Infinity War is still great on any platform, its spacey, vibrant colors pop in Ultra HD.
Asgard, the rainbow bridge, and Sakaar look explosively dynamic and vibrant at higher resolutions.
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Because the movie was originally shot on 35mm film, 8k, and IMAX, its masterful action sequences seem even more spectacular, intense, and gritty when seen on high resolution setups.
Start Experiencing 4k Streaming Today
Now that you know what you're missing, this is the perfect time to get your home setup for the next generation of streaming.