Google Play Movies this week finally enabled 4K HDR streaming support, and for now, the feature is only available for users of the Chromecast Ultra streaming dongle. HDR, or high dynamic range, is used to denote support for a wider gamut of colours, allowing for more life-like picture quality and better contrast.
Notably, both Amazon and Netflix have supported HDR streaming since 2015, and both also already support HDR streaming on mobile – though Netflix doesn’t support 4K on mobile just yet.
To stream 4K HDR video on Google Play Movies, users will need a compatible HDR television and a Chromecast Ultra dongle. HDR will not be enabled on SD or HD videos. Nothing needs to be done by the user, if both the 4K UHD title being watched and the television being used already support HDR. Google notes that users will be able to see “rich colour and high contrast” in HDR videos, and that some TV models will display an on-screen message notifying the user that HDR is turned on.
Google stipulates a minimum download speed of 15Mbps to be able to stream 4K UHD videos, and for now, only users in the US and Canada can stream 4K videos at all – so there are several limitations. Google has provided a list of supported 4K HDR titles, only accessible in the US and Canada. The Mountain View firm had brought 4K UHD streaming support to Play Movies only in December. The company has not mentioned when it plans to roll out support to other regions. Google Play Movies support for 4K UHD videos at launch was limited to the Chromecast Ultra, Sony Bravia Android TVs, and the Xiaomi Mi Box 3.