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Amazon launches 4K Ultra HD service in the US, snubs UK and rest of world

Amazon has launched its 4K Ultra HD streaming service in the US – but there’s no word when it’ll be arriving in the UK. 

Prime Instant Video exclusives like Alpha House and Transparent are now available to be streamed in next-gen HD, for no extra cost. 

Movies including Elysium, American HustleCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and, er, After Earth can be bought on pay per view basis from Amazon Instant Video for $19.99 (roughly £12.70 right now). 

To celebrate the arrival of 4K, Amazon Instant Video customers can stream also the Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek Live concert for free. 

Michael Paull, vice president, Amazon Digital Video said: “We want to deliver the best entertainment experience, and offering Ultra HD movies and TV shows raises the bar on quality and innovation that customers have come to expect from Amazon. 

“We’re also excited that Ultra HD is the latest benefit of the Amazon Prime membership, giving members instant access to great movies and TV shows in a premium picture resolution at no additional cost.”

Upcoming Amazon Originals are all being shot or have been shot in 4K, meaning once the likes of Mozart in the Jungle, Bosch, Hand of God, The After and Red Oaks drop, you’ll be able to lap those up in Ultra HD as well. 

Amazon unleashes 4K Lady Gaga on Britain's creaky broadband pipesThis all sounds great, but how can you get 4K content from Amazon? And when will the US get over that time we burned the White House down and launch stuff over here at the same time?

It was over 200 years ago guys… surely we can work this out. 

Trans-Atlantic schisms aside, here’s what you’ll need if when Amazon unleashes 4K in the UK. 

First of all, you’ll need a 4K Ultra HD smart TV that are compatible with Amazon’s apps. Right now, only selected LG, Sony and Samsung 4K smart TVs are capable of delivering the goods. 

If you’re lucky enough to own one of those, you’ll also need to have a broadband service capable of supporting 4K streams. 

Amazon says that you’ll need a broadband connection delivering at least 15Mbps at all times in order to be able to enjoy 4K Ultra HD content. In other words, if you’ve not got a superfast (or better) service, chances are you won’t be able to reliably stream 4K video. 

According to UK telcoms regulator Ofcom, only around 21 per cent of you would be able to do this right now. 

It’s a similar story with Netflix, which says you should have at least 20-25Mbps spare at all times in order to get House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black in 4K Ultra HD. 

4K Ultra HD is four times as detailed as 1080p Full HD. Eventually, we’ll be able to get 4K TV from broadcasters like the BBC and Sky – both trialling 4K tech now – but a series of technical trials need to take place before that can happen. 

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