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Amazon announces 4K streaming for Instant Video

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Amazon just announced the availability of 4K Ultra HD streaming on its Amazon Instant Video service in the United States, starting with a limited selection of content. The company joins Netflix as the only other major streaming service to offer 4K streaming. The high-resolution streams will be available via the Amazon Instant Video app on compatible Ultra HD smart TVs.

Starting today, Amazon Prime customers can stream higher quality versions of its Amazon Studios programs like Transparent and select offerings from other providers like BBC America's Orphan Black. Also immediately available is a selection of movies from Sony Pictures, including American Hustle, Captain Phillips, and Godzilla. Unlike Netflix, there is no additional cost for Prime subscribers who want to stream in 4K. Purchases of Ultra HD movies through Amazon Instant Video will start at $19.99.

Instant Video will use the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), otherwise referred to as H.265, to compress the high quality streams. Most new Ultra HD TVs are capable of handling this signal as long as they have an HEVC decoding chip inside. There is no information yet on how quickly Amazon will roll out additional 4K content, or when it might expand the service to other countries.