First there came the high-resolution wonder that is 4K UHD and now the latest advance in screen tech is HDR. If you’ve not invested in an HDR television yet but are thinking about it, there are a few good reasons it’s worth the money – check out our What is HDR guide. On the other hand, if you’ve already splashed out on an HDR TV then you’re probably wondering how to stream and watch HDR movies and shows to make the most of it.
To simplify, HDR, or High Dynamic Range, refers to a greater offering of colours and brightness on screen. Many new 4K TVs now also come with HDR, but just like 4K there are still pretty limited content offerings out there.
And to be perfectly clear, there are currently two types of HDR: HDR10 and Dolby Vision. If you’ve got a Dolby Vision capable TV then it’ll run HDR10 also, but if you’ve got HDR10 only you won’t be able to view Dolby Vision shows and films.
So, here’s how to watch HDR-compatible movies and shows on your shiny new telly.
Pixelated pioneer Netflix is already streaming its content in 4K and now has limited numbers of HDR entertainment too. We say limited; there was over 100 hours of HDR content added to Netflix’s online catalogue by August 2016 alone, with over 150 hours planned to arrive before the year is out.
Netflix will work on both Dolby Vision and HDR-enabled televisions and mainly offers its own original programming, which has been filmed for HDR. At the time of publishing, only the first season of Marco Polo can be streamed in HDR.
Netflix has also announced other shows that will be available in high dynamic range which are – deep breath: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, The Defenders, Chef’s Table, Bloodline, Hibana, A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Do-Over and The Ridiculous Six.
A full membership subscription is needed to access 4K and HDR content which costs £8.99 per month. Netflix also recommends a broadband connection of over 20MB/s, ideally.
Amazon Prime Instant Video
Amazon now throws in HDR content for free to anyone with a Prime membership. That means streaming to compatible TVs, which include Samsung and LG, is possible as you read this.
Initially, the first season of Amazon’s own Mozart in the Jungle is available in HDR. Amazon has also said that Bosch is available in Dolby Vision, along with a selection of paid-for movies.
An Amazon Prime membership is £79 per year and includes free next day delivery, music, video and more.
One of the simplest ways to get video content on any device has to be YouTube. The fact that it’s free is just a bonus. But what’s free usually isn’t usually the best, or in this case the first.
While YouTube has already announced it will be introducing HDR content, this was said back in January and there’s still no sign of it yet. At least we know it’s coming and here’s hoping there’s some good content on its way, but for now it’s pure speculation. Currently YouTube 4K videos are still limited too, mainly comprising GoPro footage, movie trailers and nature videos.
4K UHD Blu-ray
One of the best ways to watch 4K HDR content is using solid-state discs. The catch? There are currently only two UHD Blu-ray players out there and they’re not cheap. On the plus side, Microsoft has announced the Xbox One S will support 4K UHD Blu-ray playback when it arrives on 31 August for £231.
Dolby Vision isn’t yet supported on UHD Blu-ray, but the company is working on correcting that for the near future.
HDR Content is still a little limited, but expect that to change as more and more UHD Blu-rays hit the shelves. Some UHD 4K Blu-ray titles that support HDR include Mad Max, Deadpool, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Revenant, X-Men: Apocalypse, The Martian, Kingsmen and more besides.
Expect to pay around £20 for each.
This is a very specific platform that offers digital HDR 4K content for Vizio televisions only. As a result this supports Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos audio, 4K UHD and HDR for a full cinema-like experience.
Titles available so far include Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Lego Movie, Goodfellas, Mad Max, Watchmen, American Sniper and more besides, with 36 in total at the time of publishing.
Prices range from $30 (about £23) for new films to $10 (about £7.50) for older titles.