Apple announces new Apple TV 4K with HDR

Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage today at a special event to announce new Apple products. Among them was the announcement of a new Apple TV capable of 4K video playback at 60 frames per second, as well as HDR video. The new Apple TV supports both of the two most popular HDR standards, HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The new hardware looks exactly like the existing Apple TV and uses the same Siri remote. Read more ›

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NVIDIA Shield TV can now stream 4K content from Google Play

It took a while, but the NVIDIA Shield TV is now able to stream 4K movies and TV shows from Google Play. Google added 4K content to their marketplace when the Chromecast Ultra debuted last year, but strangley, the new Shield TV didn’t launch with access to that library. That misstep has now been corrected, which adds another 4K source to NVIDIA’s lineup. You can also now cast 4K content to the Shield TV.

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SPMC 16.5.0 update adds 4K and refresh rate sync support for the Amazon Fire TV

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The most popular Kodi fork, SPMC, has just been updated to version 16.5.0 with a couple great new Fire TV features. First, Fire TV 2 owners will be happy to learn the app now supports native 4K video playback on their device. The update also adds refresh rate sync, which changes the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick video settings to match the frame rate of the file being played. Both of these features were first introduced on the Fire TV by MrMC, another popular Kodi fork. MrMC being open source was likely a big contributing factor to SPMC adding these features.

To install and try SPMC for yourself, you can follow my sideloading guide, or just use my Downloader app and enter http://bit.ly/spmc1650 in the text field.

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Google will reportedly reveal a 4K capable Chromecast on October 4

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Google will be holding a hardware focused event on October 4th where, among other devices, they will reportedly reveal a 4K capable Chromecast, according to Android Police. Sources say the device will either be called the Chromecast Plus or Chromecast Ultra, but not much else is known. Given the simple and minimalistic nature of the Chromecast, I’d expect it to function identically to the existing Chromecast, but have the horsepower to decode 2160p streaming video.

Google will reportedly also “fully detail” the Google Home speaker, which is their competitor to the Amazon Echo. Additionally, they will reveal two new flagship phones, called the Pixel and Pixel XL, instead of Nexus branded phones like they usually do, and Google’s VR headset, called the Daydream View.

Based on this news of a 4K Chromecast, the likelihood that Amazon will be announcing a 4K Fire TV Stick soon has just shot up from unlikely to pretty likely in my book.

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SPMC begins testing support for 4K and Refresh Rate Switching on the Amazon Fire TV

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SPMC, one of the most popular Kodi forks, has added support for 4K playback and refresh rate switching on the Amazon Fire TV to a new test version. MrMC was the first to bring these much sought after features to the Fire TV, and now SPMC is following suit. There are still some bugs to workout, but if you’d like to try it out on your own device, you can find the latest test version here. You can install this test version alongside the stable SPMC version, without overriding or effecting an existing SPMC installation, because the two versions have different package names, and will therefore be treated as two different apps by the Fire TV.

When all the bugs are worked out, the final version with 4K and refresh rate switching support on the Fire TV will be version 16.5.0, so keep an eye out for that if you would rather wait for the stable public version. If you have the means, please consider donating to koying, the sole developer of SPMC, to thank him for his continued support of Fire TV devices.

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MrMC update adds 4K support, Refresh Rate Switching, 24p/25p/30p support, Plex Client, and more

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MrMC, the only forked version of Kodi in the official Fire TV appstore, has just been updated to version 2.4 with a bunch of great new features. For starters, MrMC can now run at a resolution of 2160p, making it the first Fire TV app capable of playing local 4K content at full resolution. The update also brings true support for refresh rate switching to the Fire TV for the first time. This is a feature that home theater enthusiasts have been begging for ever since the Fire TV first launched, and even Amazon’s own video player doesn’t support it. With refresh rate switching enabled, MrMC will automatically change the Fire TV’s refresh rate to match the frame rate of the video being played. This greatly reduces or entirely eliminates visual artifacts caused by 3:2 pulldown and screen tearing. As if 4K support and refresh rate switching weren’t enough, the new update also adds a built in Plex client, as well as a LightEffects client to support Ambilight-style LED lighting. Read more ›

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Apps on Fire TV 2 can now output 4K Ultra HD all the time — YouTube first to do so

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Ever since the Fire TV 2 first launched, its 4K capabilities have been limited to video playback. Apps like Netflix display their interface at 1080p to take advantage of the 60fps framerate, which results in a smoother navigation experience, while switching to 4K only when a video is played. This is because 4K output on the Fire TV 2 is limited to 30fps, which could result in a stuttery feeling interface if it were used all the time for an app with many moving elements. It appears that, with the new 5.2.1.0 software update, developers can now choose to display their apps in 4K all the time if they wish. The newly updated YouTube app, which now supports 4K content, is the first Fire TV app to opt for an always-4K approach. Read more ›

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UltraFlix brings their large library of 4K Ultra HD content to the Amazon Fire TV

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UltraFlix has just released their new app for the Amazon Fire TV. The service claims to have the worlds largest library of streaming 4K Ultra HD content. Their content library consists of native digital 4K titles, which they label as “Platinum” titles, film scanned in 4K, which are labeled “Gold”, and 1080p movies upconverted to 4K, which are given a “Silver” designation. Currently, the service only offers rentals, but plans to offer purchases and is considering a Netflix-style subscription model. Rental prices range from $1.99 to $9.99. Purchased content will range from $9.99 to $24.99. The app is only available on the new 4K capable 2nd-generation Fire TV.

Update

It appears UltraFlix does not correctly switch into 2160p resolution when playing 4K content. This means, until the app gets fixed, it only outputs in 1080p. Thanks Vulcan195 for the heads up!

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YouTube app for the Fire TV to gain 4K Ultra HD support

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Slipped in among the announcement for the new Alexa features coming to the Fire TV, Amazon has revealed that the YouTube app for the Fire TV will finally gain support for 4K UHD video playback. Owners of the Fire TV 2 with a 4K capable television will be able to stream YouTube’s full 4K library in all of its glory. With YouTube being among the largest providers of streaming 4K content, not being able to take advantage of that content has been a sore spot for Fire TV 2 owners ever since the device launched, but not for much longer.

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Plex adds support for 4K playback on the 2nd-gen Amazon Fire TV

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A few weeks ago, Plex added official support for 4K video files on the 2nd generation Amazon Fire TV with their v4.21.0.528 update. This means 4K videos can be directly played on the Fire TV without your Plex server needing to transcode the files. This includes support for H265 HEVC encoded files, however many users are finding their 4K files don’t meet the required specifications for direct playback by Plex. For starters, files must be encoded with a maximum bit depth of 8-bits per sample and contain metadata identifying them as having a Main profile level. Missing surround sound support is also an issue, so files should have an AC3 or AAC audio track present. Even if the file fits all the criteria, it still may not play directly due to a bug identified last week. Plex is working to improve 4K playback on the Fire TV, so look for better support with future updates. While the newly added 4K support is not perfect, it’s a good first step towards local 4K content playback for the Fire TV 2.

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