TP Vision for Philips is offering customers who shelled out too soon for an Ultra HD TV a free upgrade that’ll let them watch 4K Netflix.
The 4K Media Player UHD 880 is designed to work with older Philips 4K Ultra HD TVs from 2013 and 2014 ranges and will let those platforms watch 4K video from streaming services including Netflix and (eventually) Prime Instant Video.
Due to go on sale for €249 (£200) in early 2015, the 4K Media Player UHD 880 will be given away free to anyone who bought a 2014 Philips UHD TV from the 8809, 8909 curved, 9109 and 9809 ranges.
Based on Android L, the 4K Media Player UHD 880 can handle the HEVC (H.265)-encoded files, now used by all 4K streaming services as standard. TP Vision promises that the hardware will be upgradeable to support any 4K video streaming services developed for the Android platform – so we could see 4K Wuaki.tv coming to Philips TVs in the future.
The 4K Media Player UHD 880 will deliver 4K video at up to 60fps on models from the Philips 8809, 8909 curved, 9109, 9809 and on 8000 series TVs and above.
Owners of the Philips 6809 and 7809 4K TVs will be able to make use of the UHD 880, but you’ll only be able to stream content at up to 30 frames per second.
The box is able to receive HEVC encoded videos via WiFi, Ethernet and USB and will connect to your TV via HDMI 2.0, which means you can catch up with Netflix 4K TV and eventually 4K content from Prime Instant Video.
A spokesperson for Philips said: “TP Vision presented a Philips Media Player that will solve one of the big challenges of the 4K UHD era – the availability of content. The Philips UHD 880 will allow receiving HEVC encoded content over the internet and watch it on Philips UHD TVs at the best possible picture quality.”
While this certainly will let you tap into 4K streams on your Philips TV – provided your internet connection can handle it – and watch video files you’ve acquired from elsewhere, it doesn’t solve the issue of there being no 4K TV channels.
Broadcast standards for 4K TV have still not been defined, though the BBC, Sky and the rest of the industry continue to work on this. If it’s decided that required frame rate for live TV needs to be higher, then you’ll need to buy a new 4K TV with a different port. HDMI 2.0 can only handle 4K at a maximum of 60fps and some broadcasters have already expressed a preference for 100fps for things like live sports.
Earlier this year, Sony announced its own 4K Media Player upgrade for Ultra HD Bravia TVs that can’t decode HEVC files.
The Sony FMP-X5 is a more expensive add on, costing €399 (£328) for its KDL-84X9005, KD-65X9005A / 55X9005A 2012 and 2013 TVs, compared to the £200-odd you’d pay for your Philips TV. Unless of course you’re in line for a free one, in which case the Sony FMP-X5 looks really expensive.