How to Stream in 4K [2021 Guide]

So you want to stream in 4K HDR?

If you were hoping to be shocked by the quality, many people are — that it isn’t 4K HDR out of the box. Having a 4K TV or monitor doesn’t ensure that you’ll have 4K HDR automatically.

There’s a variety of prerequisites for a 4K experience, let alone 4K HDR. Confused about 4K, 4K HDR, and how to get it? Keep reading to find out how to stream in 4K, or what needs you’ll have to meet for 4K streaming.

What Is 4K and How to Stream in 4K HDR

The answer of 4K or 8K and what it means can bring some confusion. It isn’t that 1080p is four times smaller than 4K. In fact, 4K or UHD is named after the number of pixels horizontally across your screen.

If your monitor or TV is following the standards, there are likely 3,840 pixels across and 2,160 pixels up equalling an astounding 8,294,400 pixels. What does it mean? A lot of information about which pixel is showing which color for every frame.

4K is a marketing tactic (like “WiFi”) to make it easy to understand, more fun than saying “UHD,” and not too far off from the truth. Your 4K device is just short of 4000 pixels across, but some projectors do have a 4,096-pixel width for “Cinema 4K.”

Get the Right Hardware to Stream in 4K

Speaking of hardware like projectors, TVs, and Monitors, you need to connect it to the right equipment to get the 4K signal you want, stream 4K on Netflix, or do 4K sports streaming.

The ATSC 3.0 antenna was finally ratified as a standard and offered for home 4K signals for broadcasted channels. This will hopefully get you the sports offerings and local channels you want, but if you want to connect to apps for streaming, you’ll need the internet.

You need a connection of at least 25Mbps but preferably up to 50Mbps to enjoy 4K without buffering or quality loss. 25Mbps is the average speed of most home WiFi networks. The WiFi 6 standard is changing this, so you may need to get new routers or modems to get ready.

Get the Right Content to Stream in 4K

Now that you have all the hardware you need, your network is set up, and you have the apps, you can watch anything in 4K, right? Wrong.

Your 1080p or FHD content won’t automatically be upscaled to 4K. Your TV will “translate” the image across all 8-million-plus pixels, but you may see artifacts. This is like putting a DVD on your FHD screen, 720p doesn’t translate to Blueray.

When it’s a small device like a phone or tablet, you may not notice it so much — on your monitor or TV, you definitely will.

You’ll need the right streaming service, such as Amazon Prime, DISH and DIRECTV, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, most console stores, some YouTube videos, VUDU, and Xfinity. Not all titles will be offered in 4K, but more are being added every day.

Currently, UltraFlix has the largest library of 4K+ content.

You’re Now Part of the Mainstream

If it sounds complicated to stream in 4K HDR right now, that’s because it is. The good news is that it’s getting easier every day as all technologies converge on high-bandwidth, low-latency operation.

WiFi 6, router technologies, 5G, ATSC 3.0 antennas, TVs and Monitors, UHD speakers and sound systems are all working together to give you a home theater experience unlike any before.

Keep reading our articles to be in touch with the latest tech and entertainment news and tips!

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