DirecTV Now Does 4K Ultra HD Video On Demand, With Caveats

Starting Friday, satellite TV provider DirecTV will be dishing out 4K Ultra HD content to subscribers. Initially, the company will only offer 19 movies and nature documentaries from Havoc and Paramount Pictures via video-on-demand. However, more content will be added soon.

"The picture quality and depth of detail that 4K provides is nothing short of remarkable, and we will continue to expand our 4K lineup as consumer demand grows and evolves," said Romulo Pontual, executive vice president and CTO, DIRECTV.

Unfortunately, there's a catch in getting the 4K content. DirecTV indicated that customers will need one of the Genie HD DVR set-top boxes (HR34 and above) and a DirecTV 4K Ready Samsung Ultra HD TV released in 2014.

"A DirecTV 4K Ready TV has a built-in RVU technology that lets you enjoy DirecTV service and full HD DVR functionality without a receiver when it's used as an additional TV in a Genie HD DVR setup,” a DirecTV FAQ explains.

DirecTV's movie lineup includes Amistad, Forrest Gump, McLintock!, Star Trek (2009), and The Terminal and Transformers: Age of Extinction. On the documentaries side, the list includes The Last Reef, Mummies: Secrets of Pharaohs, Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag, Dinosaurs Alive!, Coral Reef Adventure, Legends of Flight and several others.

DirecTV isn't the only 4K Ultra HD provider. Netflix began streaming in 4K Ultra HD back in May with the launch of the second season of House of Cards. Compatible TVs included the Samsung HU8550 and HU9000, among others offered by LG, Samsung, Sony and Vizio. The company said that in order to get the best picture, customers will need bandwidth of at least 20 Mbps; the stream alone takes up around 16 Mbps.

Sony is also a player in the 4K Ultra HD market. The company launched the very first 4K Ultra HD video download service called "Video Unlimited 4K" last year. The service initially began with more than 70 feature films and TV shows from Sony and "other notable production houses." Sony also launched a number of compatible 4K Ultra HD TVs including the XBR-55X850A and the XBR-65X850A.

As for DirecTV, pricing for the new 4K content provided on Friday will range from $3.99 to $15.99, depending on the movie or documentary.

Follow Kevin Parrish @exfileme. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • soldier45
    Too bad there aren't even 19 people with 4K tvs to enjoy this yet.
  • Christopher1
    Too bad there aren't even 19 people with 4K tvs to enjoy this yet.
    Actually there are quite a few people with 4K TV's to enjoy this. The bigger issue is that 4K TV takes UBER-bandwidth in the real world so most will not have the capability to view it.
  • gaaah
    So those movies listed, they were shot with a 4K camera? Forrest Gump? If not, are you really going to get any more detail?
  • gbair
    So those movies listed, they were shot with a 4K camera? Forrest Gump? If not, are you really going to get any more detail?

    They were shot on 35mm film which has an equivalent resolution of 4-6K, so yes, there is detail to be had with a good remastering into a 4K format. Even movies made in the 50s and earlier can gain significant detail in 4K.
  • alchemy69
    4K in a TV is an idiot tax. There are always gullible fools out there who believe a bigger number must be "better" because a salesman tells them so and are willing to spend ridiculous money on the Emperor's new clothes.
  • aramisathei
    "4K in a TV is an idiot tax. There are always gullible fools out there who believe a bigger number must be 'better'"

    That's only true if you don't have or use 4k content. The same was said of 1080p--which was true at first, but again only because most people didn't have HD content.
    The proliferation of HD devices spurred that drive, which is effectively what's happening here (there's already a good deal of UHD content, even if it isn't with DirectTV).

    It's fine if you don't want or have a use for it, but that doesn't make it true for others.
  • Duckhunt
    I got a 4k TV and I love it. I can sit up close or far away and it looks good. I think my eyes feel better about it.

    I totally recommend 4k over 1080p. I use to think 1080p was the best and anything above that was just marketing but no it is great. The tv upscales to the 4k res for some content and makes lower quality stuff look better with some pvr or dvrs. Try to look for these features.
  • redgarl
    1080p stretched to 4k isn't 4k.

    My 4k TV is my monitor to my system. I am playing most games in 4k now which is the only use for 4k right now.
  • alidan
    there is a difference here, the difference between 480p and 720p was massive, and something anyone could see the benefit from, personally in out living room we have a 1080p 60~ inch tv, and to be able to see 1080p for all its worth we would need to move everything close than it already is... 4k for even the closest we sit to the tv the extra data would be lost because of distance... its is something that just 720p or 1080p did not have...

    also, 4k at least at the consumer level is exactly 4X 1080p, meaning that scaling up from 1080p to 4k doesn't look like hell, a stark difference between from 480i to 1080p where even though the hd screen is better and clearer, the picture looks worlds better on a sd tv.

    BUT some homes are small enough to have the seating close enough to take advantage of 4k, and in the pc realm you are close enough... even though i find 4k at anything lower than 48 inches to be to high a dpi to be useful.
  • Alsone
    The biggest problem is that a final 4K viewing standard hasn't been agreed.

    They say the wow from 4K comes not from the resolution but the expanded colour space which I'm 99% sure no current tv's support as it hasn't been agreed yet. The EU has just agreed a phase 1 interim standard, but the full potential of 4k won't be unlocked until Phase II which could render most current 4K tv's obsolete in effect due to their inability to process and display the new colour space.

    I think most existing 4K tv's don't even comply with Phase I.