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Amazon Introduces 4K Video Streaming, But Only for Newer 4K TVs

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All those people buying 4K TVs this holiday season—or during the pre-Super Bowl TV sales—might actually have something to watch (although buyers of 2013 4K TVs are out of luck). Amazon announced yesterday that it's offering 4K video streaming. For no extra cost, Amazon Prime subscribers can watch a handful of TV series in 4K, such as Amazon's Alpha House and the BBC's Orphan Black, or movies including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Funny Girl.

For non-Prime subscribers, the options are less limited, but come with a fee. Movie purchases start at $19.99 and include more recent titles, such as American Hustle and Captain Philips. Netflix was previously the only large provider to offer 4K, but Amazon is offering many more titles.

The rollout shows why consumers don't want to be early adopters on 4K. Amazon video is in HEVC, and only some 2014 TVs from Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio are compatible. Most 2013 4K TVs are not. Amazon has a list of compatible sets.

CNET ran some quick side-by-side comparisons and found the streaming 4K video more detailed than 1080p and comparable to Blu-ray. CNET also noted that some supported 4K TVs couldn't find Ultra HD content in the updated Amazon app.

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