No question about it: A 4K TV delivers a sharper image than regular HD, especially when it’s showing 4K programming, which is still somewhat limited. For instance, you won’t find it on any of the major networks, though DirecTV has three 4K channels and Dish offers some 4K programming as video-on-demand. A handful of cable providers, including Comcast’s Xfinity, also offer limited 4K content.
Streaming video services have the widest selection of 4K movies and TV series, and are constantly adding to their 4K libraries. (Netflix and Amazon also have ever-expanding selections of HDR titles.) Amazon Prime members get 4K free, but for Netflix you need a $12-per-month Premium subscription.
FandangoNow (formerly M-Go) charges an additional $1 to $2 to rent 4K titles, and it supports Vidity, a new 4K and HDR download service.
On Vudu, you can find 4K “Vudu UHD” titles with Dolby Vision HDR, which cost $10 to rent or $30 to own. Lesser-known services include Sony Ultra, a purchase-only streaming service that charges $30 per movie, and UltraFlix, a service specializing in 4K rentals, which we found starting at $2.
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You can also find user-generated 4K videos on YouTube. Remember that streaming 4K requires consistent broadband speeds of about 20 Mpbs for optimal picture quality.
There are a few 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players on the market now, with prices ranging from about $400 to $700. They are capable of the best picture quality available today. Microsoft promised to release a new Xbox One S console this summer that will have an integrated 4K Blu-ray drive and start at about $300.
Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the September 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
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