When Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and players hit store shelves early next year, they will offer the best picture and sound quality available in the home. But until then, Vudu just established itself as the best available source of next-gen content — at least from the home theater enthusiast’s point of view.
Announced today, Vudu is now streaming select 4K Ultra HD titles with Dolby Atmos surround sound. The new audio format, which can be found in commercial theaters, and, at a very scaled-down level in home theaters, adds a new level of immersion for sound tracks by allowing so-called “sound objects” to be discreetly directed to individual speakers, including new height channels that deliver sound from above the listener. The news comes on the heels of Vudu’s addition of Dolby’s version of High Dynamic Range video, called Dolby Vision, to its 4K Ultra HD movie offerings.
For some, this is an exciting development, but as is often the case with next-gen technologies, there’s a catch: In order to fully enjoy the best of what Vudu and Dolby are offering here, some very specific equipment is necessary. First and foremost, to get Dolby Atmos, users will need either a Vizio 4k Ultra HD TV or a compatible streaming device which, for now at least, includes only the newly released Roku 4. Presumably, Vudu’s streaming app will eventually offer Dolby Atmos on more platforms such as the Amazon Fire TV or Nidia Shield, but for now it appears exclusive to Roku’s new 4K-capable media player. It should be noted that the new Apple TV is not presently capable of dealing with 4K UHD streams, HDR, or Dolby Atmos.
Next, the user will need a either a Dolby Atmos-capable A/V receiver or pre-amplifier/processor and the necessary speaker compliment, or Yamaha’s Dolby Atmos-enabled sound bar, the YSP-5600 (pictured below).
But that’s just the surround sound side of things. If a user wants both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos as part of their experience, then only Vizio’s Reference Series smart TVs will do, as it is currently the only 4K Ultra HD TV brand compatible with Dolby’s take on what HDR should look like.
Sound a little confusing? It kind of is, which is probably why Dolby and Vudu created this infographic showing which configurations are available, and what movies can be enjoyed under each of the configurations.
For now, Vudu’s list of movies available with Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision includes Mad Max: Fury Road, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Gallows, San Andreas, American Sniper, Man of Steel, Jupiter Ascending, Edge of Tomorrow, and Into the Storm.
The scope of titles Vudu offers with Dolby Vision alone is a little more extensive, including these additions to the aforementioned titles: The Great Gatsby, Vacation, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Focus, Get Hard The Hangover, The Hangover Part II, The Hangover Part III, Run All Night, The Lego Movie, and Magic Mike XXL.
Vudu reports all titles are available for streaming as of right now, with prices running about $10.00 per rental and between $25 -$30 to own.