There are a lot of different streaming services out there and they offer different features and benefits. Let’s go through some of them so you know what you’re getting (and getting in to).
It is generally recommended that you have an internet connection of at least 15 mbps, up to 25 depending on the service, to be able to stream 4k. If you’re looking for “normal” 1080p HD content, about 10 mbps is the recommended speed. Another important networking comment is most internet routers support dual-band wifi. Dual-band means the router can put out two wifi signals from one unit. One is on a 2.4 GHz band and the other is a 5 GHz band. You don’t need to know the technical details other than that a 2.4 band works much better through walls and has better overall coverage. A 5 GHz band has much faster speeds if the device you’re using has line-of-sight to the router. You can always do a speedtest on both wifi bands to see which would be better for the particular area you are in. (This information is irrelevant if you are using a wired internet connection).
The name everyone knows and is probably the most well-rounded streaming service out there. Basic service is 8 dollars a month and that gives you access to standard definition content and only one device stream. The middle tier costs 10 dollars a month and gives you access to high definition content and 2 devices can stream at a time. The highest tier lets you stream 4k content and costs 12 dollars per month. You can also watch on 4 devices simultaneously. You can try Netflix free for a month as well if you’d like to give it a trial run before committing to the monthly payments. There is a decent amount of 4k content on Netflix. About 100 movies and tv shows are currently available and this number will continue to grow over time as 4k becomes more standard for all video content. Also, Netflix is the only streaming service that supports Dolby Vision.
If you already have a Prime membership, the Amazon Video service is included in your fee. If you don’t have a Prime membership, it’s 9 dollars per month to access all of their content. (It’s cheaper to get an annual Prime membership than it is to just access the video so you may as well get the additional benefits of a full membership). There are no subscription tiers like there are for Netflix. In order to access the UHD content from Amazon, you have to use the Amazon Video app on a compatible smart tv. There is no way to access the 4k content in another manner.
Hulu has less movie content than Prime or Netflix does but it has a good assortment of tv shows. You can only stream 4k on an Xbox One S or Playstation 4 Pro but that may change in the future. I don’t personally know much about Hulu nor have I used it before so you’ll have to use Google to find out more information.
Vudu isn’t exactly a streaming service because there isn’t a subscription fee, but you can buy movies and tv shows and have them stick with your account to stream when you’d like. I would also suggest Vudu as the place to redeem your digital copies of 4k movies because if the movie is 4k capable, you can also stream it in 4k. Another benefit of Vudu is an option to share your online library of movies with someone else without giving them direct access to your account. (4k content is noted with an orange tab, pictured below).
Another streaming company everyone’s heard about. No subscription service but if the video was shot in 4k, you can click the gear at the bottom of a video and select 2160p to stream in 4k. You don’t need to use a 4k tv app to stream in 4k. Any device that supports 4k resolution a.k.a. most computers and tvs, can select 4k from the option list. Most mobile devices only have 1080p or 1440p for screen resolutions so you won’t be able to stream UHD on your phone or tablet. Here’s a great test video to see if your device supports a 4k stream. YouTube is owned by Google so you can log into your account and have all your previous video searches and uploaded content be available on all your devices.
There are other streaming services but these are the most common ones available. If you’re a total 4k nut, check out these two as well. Sony Ultra (only available on Sony tv’s) and Ultraflix support 4k and offer a good assortment of content.