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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.

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