Amazon Video is going to start streaming 4K ultra HD HDR content to select consumers in July

by on June 29, 2015

Stephan Jukic – June 29, 2015

High Dynamic range marches forward in the world of streaming online content and the latest provider to succumb to this powerfully visible new video augmentation standard is Amazon Prime Instant Video.

In June, the internet giant had announced that it was working on plans to add HDR technology to its streaming movie and TV show service sometime in 2015, but without having defined a specific date and now, just as July rolls around the corner, the company is already putting their announced plan into place.

The Instant Video service has already started to officially stream 4K content which has been encoded with high dynamic range to Primer subscribers in the U.S.A.

The HDR content is obviously only available to those users whose 4K TV models are actually capable of decoding and displaying the higher contrast ratios of HDR but it is definitely now available. Thus, users who own one of Samsungs SUHD 2015 4K TV models from the top shelf, like the JS9500, which do have HDR capability already inside them, or (soon but not quite yet) Sony’s very latest 4K models which will be getting HDR firmware updates later in the year. Owners of these TVs can now or will soon be able to see what all the hype has been about.

Hight dynamic range (HDR) is a technology by which the number of steps between the darkest dark and the brightest bright are increased while the actual range between the two extremes is also expanded.

HDR is much more obvious to the user eye than 4K even on smaller screens and at larger distances.

HDR is much more obvious to the user eye than 4K even on smaller screens and at larger distances.

What makes HDR so interesting is that it is a display augmentation which is immediately visible to an observer on TVs from almost any normal distance and of any screen size. In contrast, 4K resolution can be hard to notice on nay 4K TV with a smaller screen and can be particularly hard to discern from high quality Full HD (like Blu-ray’s version) if it has been streamed to an audience.  Since the 4K content by Amazon is indeed compressed streaming content, the HDR addition will probably give it more impact than the original 4K resolution itself did.

The HDR 4K content is now available through the Amazon Video app on the HDR-capable Samsung SUHD TVs.

In addition to Samsung and Sony just down the road, LG is also going to be HDR-compliant very soon as its OLED 4K TVs also become capable of handling the new next-gen 4K content from Amazon. LG’s OLED TVs don’t actually have the same maximum brightness as conventional LED TVs, at least according to some sources, but they are capable of creating black levels like no other 4K TV and this will greatly enhance their ability to deliver HDR content.

According to Tim Alessi, head of new product development for home entertainment at LG Electronics USA, “OLED technology is perfectly suited for HDR content because it delivers perfect, absolute black—- which only OLED TVs can achieve”. Alessi also explained that, “By starting from perfect black, OLED is able to produce the required ranges at a lower peak brightness, resulting in exceptional, and comfortable, HDR viewing experience from any viewing angle.

While this is indeed true and while yes, LG’s OLED viewing angles are indeed exceptional, some fans of 4K who want to enjoy HDR will likely seek out the higher peak brightness of LED TVs like the SUHD HDR-capable models. As for which of the two is better for HDR, that’s something that consumer preference and future TV reviews will have to decide.

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