4K owners may walk away from 2014 feeling frustrated. After all, limited access to ultra-high definition content has soured the experience for consumers who have already invested in a sleek 4K monitor or television. This dissatisfaction is not likely to carry into 2015, however, said Gigaom. A big part of the shift is the fact that so many consumers did invest in 4K technology in 2014, so content makers have a more stable audience to produce video for. Another factor that makes 4K adoption seem inevitable is historical precedence.
Periphery technologies for television are almost written off as gimmicks (see 3DTV), but advances to the core technology of television, its picture quality, always seem to catch on eventually. Though the content train for 4K may still be moving at a slow pace, it's only a matter of time before the industry reaches full steam. Users will still have to do a bit of mix and matching to get a 4K content selection that rivals cable television, but this guide to 4K content will show you where the latest ultra-high definition content is bound to release in 2015.
Streaming services galore
Not surprisingly, streaming giant Netflix already has its 4K service up and running. For an additional fee, subscribers get access to the service's tiny library of UHD content. Multiple nature documentaries and Netflix original "House of Cards" Season 2 round up the key draws for Netflix's 4K service. Users also get access to cinema classics like "Ghostbusters" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Netflix adds (and subtracts) entries from its archives on a regular basis, so it's only a matter of time before its selection becomes more expansive.
Hungry to challenge Netflix's dominance with a superior 4K selection, Amazon's Instant Video service is freely available to Amazon Prime members, according to Digital Trends. A few free movies and a long list of Amazon Prime original series were made available in 4K upon the service's December release, with additional content queued up for release. One feature that separates Amazon's offering from Netflix is the ability to purchase popular (relatively) new releases in 4K for download. Amazon hopes that offering users a free experience with a la carte option will be enough to pry consumers away from Netflix's clutches.
Rounding out the pack are up and coming services like M-Go and Sony Video Unlimited. M-Go, a rental service with an exclusive deal with Samsung, delivers a more eclectic library of 4K titles including "The Giver" and anime classic "Ghost in the Shell." UHD films can be rented for $7 dollars and purchased for $25. Similarly, Sony's service allows viewers to purchase or rent 4K titles at their leisure. Users are forced to stream content on Sony hardware, but the sheer volume of the Video Unlimited service (over 200 shows and movies added in 2014 alone) will make the viewer tempting for 4K television owners.
An important caveat to note about 4K streaming services is that many require subscribers to have sufficient Internet speed to handle the data-intensive content. Netflix, for instance, recommends that viewers have access to a minimum connection of 25 Mbps before they sign up for the 4K service. These requirements are will only become more stringent and commonplace as UHD becomes more popular, An upgraded high-speed Internet connection would make the perfect supplement for family members who got a new 4K screen over the holidays.
Samsung owners can sign up for satellite
Samsung, one of the leading purveyors of 4K televisions, has signed multiple exclusive content deals in order to drive sales of its screens. One of the most notable of these partnerships is with DirecTV, according to Consumer Reports. Those DirecTV customers with the Genie HD DVR and a compatible 4K Samsung television will be able to view UHD content immediately once the system is up and running. The company recently launched a new satellite into orbit to support HD and UHD viewing on the ground, so viewers will be able to enjoy a clean 4K stream in their living rooms.
Comcast customers get easy access
Not to be outdone by the competition, cable and Internet providers are getting into the 4K game as well. Comcast customers who pay for the Xfinity service, for example, will now have access to 4K content. All the shows available are ones produced by NBC, a subsidiary of Comcast. Like the DirecTV service, access to this content is limited to subscribers with a Samsung UHD screen. In the near future, Comcast has discussed the release of a set-top box built to facilitate 4K content. The technology may help to support the roll-out of 4K television, an inevitable successor to live HD TV.
Enter 4K Blu-ray
Have a 4K television that isn't a Samsung? Want to watch 4K but can't fork over the cash for the latest and greatest broadband connection? UHD Blu-ray is the answer to your problems. Though modern disc-based media is slowly going the way of the floppy, there are numerous advantages to watching 4K content from your Blu-ray players. Better picture and consistent quality are the key advantages of consuming content via optical disc in lieu of an optical cable, according to CNET. 4K Blu-ray will also provide a cost-effective alternative for consumers without the means to keep their Internet speed at pace with the quality of the content they want to watch.