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Google Play Now Offers 4K HDR To Dozens Of Movies: What This Means For 4K TV

by on July 14, 2017

Juan Carlos Ropel, July 14, 2017

Last December Google Play added 4K compatibility to its movie rentals and sales services, so it seemed that the next natural move was the addition of High Dynamic Range (HDR) to its content since this feature in particular is steadily becoming almost more important than ultra HD as a part of a cutting-edge, serious home entertainment experience.

HDR content preserves details in the darkest and brightest areas of a video that are lost using old SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) standards. It also allows both content and the TV formatted to display that content in its HDR formatting to show more natural, true-to-life colors that are closer to how we see them in real life.

So starting this week you can watch supported movies and series from Google Play in glorious 4K HDR. At the moment this option is only available at the United States and Canada for all devices connected to Google that are compatible with this standard. 4K HDR TVs with Chromecast functionality and some cellphones with HDR built-in like the LG G6 and Samsung’s Galaxy S8, can stream the richer colors and deeper contrast offered by HDR technology.

However, please note that not all Google Play Movies support HDR or even 4K at the moment. You can check out the availability of 4K or HDR films at Google Play by searching the desired keywords. Right now there are only 42 movies available In the HDR format, ranging in price from $20 to $30. Not cheap, but the list includes some decent titles like the old-time classic “Goodfellas” and recent movies with fantastic visuals like “Kong: Skull Island”.

To be able to stream HDR content from Google Play to your television, Google requires a minimum download speed of 15Mbps and a Chromecast Ultra device connected to the screen. Google doesn’t make it clear if all Android TVs will be compatible with this feature but we’re assuming that it does work with all the major Android and other HDR 4K TVs on sale today, most notably Sony’s fantastic lines of 4K HDR UHD televisions from 2015, 2016 and most spectacularly, 2017.

4K HDR TVs like Sony's X940E are the ideal models for rendering of stunningly deep HDR graphics

4K HDR TVs like Sony’s X940E are the ideal models for rendering of stunningly deep HDR graphics

With HDR finally included onto its content, Google finally joins other video on-demand services like Amazon Prime and Netflix, which have already been offering 4k HDR movies and other programming for a while.

In a wider sense, this inclusion of HDR for Google Play Movies also gives high dynamic range a firmer foothold in the general landscape of digital video entertainment. For the time being the format is highly limited –even more so than 4K resolution itself—to mostly streaming sources of content and an even smaller selection of broadcast 4K entertainment channels but this will absolutely and almost exponentially change as a growing percentage of TV sales worldwide consist of people buying the 4K TVs that are the chief products of all major television manufacturing efforts.


Not all TVs come with HDR display support but virtually all newer models from late 2016 onwards now do at least to some extent and examples of newly released TVs which don’t are in fact notable specifically for this reason. It’s considered a distinct weakness in them over rival models. A good recent example of this being Amazon’s own Element Fire 4K TVs, which while cheap failed to come with HDR display of any kind despite the existence of rival television models t the same prices WITH HDR included.

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