The struggle for early adopters of 4K Ultra HD TVs has been real: a screen with unprecedented resolution and color, yet an unfortunate lack of content to watch on it. Fortunately, UHD content is starting to catch up as companies increasingly make it a priority. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is the latest to target 4K enthusiasts, announcing today that the company’s new streaming service, Ultra, will launch on April 4 on Sony 4K UHD televisions with Android TV in the U.S.
At launch, Ultra will offer a selection of Sony-produced films for purchase and playback in 4K Ultra HD, ranging from new releases like Concussion, The Night Before, and The Walk to older hits including Ghostbusters and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Some movies include digital extras as well as High Dynamic Range (HDR), which gives viewers still better picture with a greater dynamic range of luminosity. For now, only Sony films will be offered on the service.
Films won’t be cheap, however, priced at $30 in 4K with HDR. There is good news for viewers who already own movies from the Sony Pictures Store, though: It’s possible to upgrade HD versions of select films to 4K on Ultra at a lower cost. Sony also has a deal for consumers who purchase eligible 4K UHD TVs with Ultra built in this summer that includes four free movies when they sign up for the streamer. It’s a nice carrot to dangle, especially on top of the “groundbreaking visual experience” the company promised when announcing its new service at CES.
“Consumers are rapidly upgrading their living rooms to 4K, and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s new Ultra streaming service will provide a premium viewing experience to satisfy growing demand for 4K movies and television shows,” said Jake Winett, VP of Consumer Services & Advanced Platforms at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in a press release.
While Ultra is only set to offer movies, the streaming service is compatible with UltraViolet, Sony’s cloud service; therefore, users will be able to link their profiles and stream any Sony Pictures content they’ve bought or redeemed through the Sony Pictures Store, Vudu, and other UltraViolet-compatible retailers. Unfortunately, Ultra won’t have any rentals at launch, unlike Sony’s current Ultra HD downloading service, Playstation Video (aka Video Unlimited). The fact that it does have HDR, however, serves as something of a consolation.
Whether or not Playstation Video will continue to exist once Ultra launches is unclear. We reached out to Sony for comment, but have yet to hear back. We’ll update this piece when we get an answer.
Overall, Sony’s 4K UHD streaming options currently seem somewhat piecemeal, but it is promising to see that the company is working to address the need for such high-quality video content. Here’s hoping for more comprehensive solutions in the future.
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