4K Ultra HD: Best Way to Stream?

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As 4K Ultra HD resolution becomes more and more common, it is intriguing to find a way to access it. After getting a 4K TV, there are a lot of decisions to be made and a lot of choices available as far as getting your favorite content to your TV screen of choice.

I asked myself, “What would be the most convenient and cost effective way to get into 4K, today?” So, I decided to do some research, and am now ready to discuss the best bang-for-your-buck methods of watching 4K content.

Part 1: The Streaming Services.

The most convenient (and often the cheapest way) to get access to 4K content is via streaming. There are a plethora of services out there to choose from, though, so I set out to put together a list of the main services currently available, along with the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Netflix

Cost: $13.99/month

Strengths:

  1. Accessibility: Almost every device that can even access 4K content can access Netflix. There are so many options for watching Netflix, from phones and tablets, to smart TVs, to game consoles and more; chances are, you will always have a screen near you that you can watch Netflix on.
  2. Content: Netflix has a very wide variety of shows and movies to choose from, with an increasing amount of Netflix Originals shows that are exclusive to the service (this website does a really good job of tracking 4K releases on the service)

Weaknesses:

  1. Price: At $13.99 a month for the 4K content plan, there are cheaper options out there.

Amazon Prime Instant Video

Cost: $99/year (roughly $8.30/month)

Strengths:

  1. Versatility of an Amazon Prime membership: Along with the 4K streaming service, an Amazon Prime membership includes access to borrow a wide range of books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, free two-day shipping on all Amazon.com purchases and access to Amazon’s music streaming service (CNET offers a list of even more advantages of going Prime and so does Amazon themselves)

Weaknesses:

  1. Content: You are simply going to get more choices with Netflix, but that doesn’t mean the selection on this service is bad. The amount of 4K content available is slowly growing on all of these services, and there are plenty of movies and shows already on this particular service

Hulu Plus

Cost: $11.99/month

Strengths:

  1. James Bond films: if you love the Bond series of films, then you are in luck with Hulu, as they offer the entire series in 4K. Seems very binge worthy if you ask me.

Weaknesses:

  1. Accessibility and Variability: Outside of the Bond films, there aren’t many options as far as content selection goes, according to an article by the Verge for this streaming service. In addition, the only way to get 4K Hulu content right now, according to their site, is to stream it through either an Xbox One S (or the newly released One X) or a PS4 Pro.

Youtube/Vimeo

Cost: Free

Strengths:

  1. Content, content, and more content: These services have absolutely the most 4K content out right now. From nature, to cars, to lifestyle reality shows, to mini movies, these sources have the widest variety of content.

Weakness:

  1. Lack of fully-produced network shows: You won’t find any TV shows or movies on here for free; it’s all amateur content. If you want TV shows on this platform, you are going to have to step up to a paid service like YouTube TV, or Youtube Red.

HBO NOW

No 4K option.

This was surprising to me, but according to their site, they don’t offer 4K content. They state that they will “continue to investigate 4K video support.”

The bottom line: I personally feel like 4K streaming is still not quite there yet as far as uniform ease of use and availability, but as far as the best value for your money right now, pursuing 4K content with a Netflix subscription seems to be the best route.

Netflix offers the widest variety of shows to stream, with more and more being added as time goes on. The second best option is definitely an Amazon Prime subscription. It is about the cheapest route out of all options right now, plus all of the added benefits of a Prime membership are sure to come in handy for anyone, especially a college student.

If you don’t care for fully produced shows or movies, though, be sure to check out what Youtube and Vimeo has to offer. Whatever your interest is, chance is there is some amateur 4K programming on either of these services. Plus, it’s all absolutely free, and there are are hundreds of videos being added each day.

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