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Without high-dynamic-range (HDR) content to watch, your brand-new HDR-capable TV is just a regular TV. It might be a huge 4K TV teeming with buzzword features and more smarts than a computer, but without a real HDR source, it’s not going to look its best.
Actual HDR TV shows and movies are required to unlock the brighter highlights and wider color gamut that make your new set shine. Non-HDR content, whether it’s in 4K resolution or 1080p high-def, whether from a Blu-ray, streaming app or cable box, simply doesn’t deliver the punch and impact of HDR. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of HDR content available today.
Before we begin to tell you where to find it, here are a few things you’ll need.
HDR system requirements
First off, you’ll need an HDR-compatible TV. That typically means a 4K television from 2015 or 2016 that can decode and display HDR content, whether in HDR10 or Dolby Vision format.
The streaming apps built into your TV — chiefly Netflix and Amazon video — should be the first place to look for HDR. Most video apps lack HDR content, however, and even on the few that have it, only a handful of shows and movies (much fewer than ones in 4K resolution, for example) are actually in HDR.
A few external sources, such as 4K Blu-ray players and some streaming-video devices like the, can do HDR too. If you go the external-source route, and you have a receiver or sound bar, keep in mind it will need to be HDR-compatible too (and if it’s more than a year or two old, it probably isn’t). In that case, you’ll need to connect the source directly to the TV and use a separate audio connection to the receiver.
Lastly, because all streaming HDR content is also Ultra HD “4K” content, you’ll need a pretty fast Internet connection to watch it in the best quality. At least 15 mbps, ideally more. Netflix recommends 25 mbps for 4K.
Got all that? Good. Here are all the major places you can find HDR content today. One simple thing to keep in mind: All HDR content (with one exception so far) is 4K, but not all 4K content is HDR.
What’s available: Among all the streaming services, Amazon has the most content today. Prime members can watch Amazon Original shows “Goliath,” “Transparent,” “Bosch,” “Mozart in the Jungle” and others, as well as a couple documentaries like “Coral Reef Adventure.” Nonmembers can purchase individual Sony Pictures titles like “After Earth,” “Chappie,” “Elysium” and “Fury” for $25 to $30 each. HDR programming will have a little HDR logo with it (see above) or one for Dolby Vision. Look for the “Ultra HD” version of the show to find it.
You’ll need: A Prime subscription ($99 per year, but includes things like free two-day shipping and music streaming) or money for individual movies.
What’s available: Netflix has less content in HDR right now than Amazon, although it promises more by the end of the year. Now you can watch “Marco Polo” and “Daredevil,” and original movies like “The Ridiculous Six.” You can search for “HDR,” though this doesn’t necessarily return all the HDR titles. As on Amazon, available titles have an HDR or Dolby Vision logo next to them.
You’ll need: The 4 Screen Netflix plan (the most expensive one, currently $15 per month). More info here.
What’s available: Several dozen recent movies like “Star Trek Beyond,” “Warcraft” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Movies with HDR have the Dolby Vision logo, but not on the main search page, only on the movie’s page. A full list of UHD movies (most of which are also in HDR) is here.
You’ll need: Today at least Vudu only offers Dolby Vision HDR, which means only certain LG and Vizio TVs can display its HDR content. Dolby Vision and Vudu’s HDR movies aren’t available on any external devices yet; you can watch Vudu in 4K on some Roku boxes, for example, but not in HDR. Vudu recommends a connection speed of at least 11 mbps, a bit lower than the others. More info here. 4K/HDR movies on Vudu cost up to $10 to rent and $30 to own.
FandangoNow (Formerly M-Go)
What’s available: Depends on your device. LG TVs and Samsung TVs, as well as HDR Roku boxes (either the Premiere+ or Ultra), have the app that can stream 4K HDR movies like “Lucy,” “Oblivion” and “Warcraft.” They’re not clearly marked as HDR, however, except in Roku’s separate “4K spotlight” app.
If you have a Samsung TV and a compatible hard drive connected, you get access to a larger selection of 30 or so movie titles to download (not stream), including “Deadpool,” “The Martian” and “The Revenant” (see above). They’re even easy to find(!)
Whether streaming or for download, movies cost $20 or $30 to buy; there don’t seem to be any 4K rental options. Here’s more (not quite up-to-date) info.
Ultra (Formerly Sony PlayStation Video)
Sony seems to change the name for its video-streaming services every few months. Right now it’s called Ultra, which is brilliant because guess what comes up if you try to Google “Sony Ultra” (spoiler, literally everything other than this service).
As you’d expect, it’s largely Sony movies like the Ghostbusters movies, “Concussion,” “The Walk” and so on. You’ll get four free movies when you buy certain 4K Sony TVs. Compatible with Ultraviolet. No rental option is available yet, and movies typically cost $30 to own.
You’ll need: A Sony TV. More info here.
The most popular streaming video service on the web is the latest on this list to support HDR. The service offers just a couple of HDR videos right now, many collected on this playlist, and since it just launched, it’s unclear how easy it will be to find more. Stay tuned.
In the meantime you can find plenty of videos labeled “HDR” on YouTube, but I can label my videos 12K Super-HDR and that doesn’t mean they are. At best they’re describing the photo version of HDR, not the TV version.
You’ll need: A Chromecast Ultra. As of this writing that’s the only device that supports YouTube in HDR. Support for Samsung TVs is coming soon, but those are the only devices we know about so far.
PS4 and Xbox One S games
The Xbox One S (but not the original Xbox One) and both PS4 gaming consoles (the original and the Pro) have support for HDR, presuming the game is written for that. For more info, check out why you shouldn’t get excited about 4K and HDR gaming, at least not yet.
And remember above when we said “all HDR content (with one exception so far) is 4K”? That exception is the original PlayStation 4 (not Pro), which can output HDR games in below-4K resolution (1080p).
The most reliable source of HDR isn’t streaming at all, it’s a good old-fashioned spinning disc. Specifically, Ultra HD Blu-ray. Many of the 90-odd releases so far come in HDR, titles like “Deadpool,” all three Ghostbusters films, “Independence Day” and its sequel, and most of the big movies from this year and last. Reference Home Theater keeps an up-to-date list. Prices are generally $30 each, but typically include the regular Blu-ray and DVD versions too, along with digital copyrights like Ultraviolet.
You’ll need: An Ultra HD Blu-ray player such as the Samsung UBD-K8500 or the Xbox One S.
There’s also not much in the way of cable/satellite content, which isn’t surprising since it’s lagging hard in vanilla 4K content too.
Ultraflix has a wide variety of UHD content, but there’s no info anywhere about HDR, its website hasn’t been fully updated since 2015 and an email from CNET has so far gone unanswered.
The good news is, the amount of HDR content is growing rapidly. Even six months ago there was but a fraction of the shows and movies that there are now. AVSForum is compiling a pretty extensive list of all the titles. Since film and nearly all digital cinema cameras can and have been able to do far greater dynamic range and wider colors than televisions, it’s just a matter of time (and money) until we see even more HDR content.
Updated November 7 to mention YouTube.
Got a question for Geoff? First, check out all the other articles he’s written on topics such as why all HDMI cables are the same, LED LCD vs. OLED, why 4K TVs aren’t worth it and more. Still have a question? Tweet at him @TechWriterGeoff then check out his travel photography on Instagram. He also thinks you should check out his sci-fi novel and its sequel.
Source: Cnet News
Keyword: Where can I get HDR TV shows and movies for my new HDR TV?