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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Smithsonian Earth app on the Fire TV now streams in 4K UHD

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When Amazon announced their add-on subscription option for Prime Video and brought Smithsonian Earth content to the Fire TV for the first time, it was a bit disapointing that the videos weren’t available in 4K UHD resolution. A week later, when a standalone Smithsonian Earth app was released, it too lacked 4K video. Thankfully, that fault has now been addressed. The Smithsonian Earth app now streams in 4K UHD on the 2nd-gen Fire TV. Big thanks to vulcan_on_earth on reddit (aka Vulcan195 in the comments here) for pointing this out. The Smithsonian Earth app requires the same $3.99 per month subscription as the add-on option for the same content, so if you have the newer Fire TV and a 4K television, it makes more sense to subscribe directly through the app, since the Prime Video add-on option still only streams in 1080p.

Smithsonian Earth is now the 3rd source of 4K content on the Fire TV, with Amazon Video and Netflix being the other two. Since the release of the 4K capable Fire TV, there certainly hasn’t been an influx of 4K apps like we would have hoped. This may be partially due to the hurdles of developing a 4K capable app, but at least the number of 4K apps has finally increased.

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UHD Alliance reveals its logo and specs for ‘premium’ 4K devices

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The UHD Alliance (UHDA), a consortium comprising of several big entertainment brands, has revealed their consumer facing logo (seen above) which will be used to “identify devices, content and services capable of delivering a premium experience.” The UHDA was put together at CES last year in an effort to create a standard for UHD/4K content and devices, in order to avoid format wars like the Blu-ray vs HD DVD debacle. Amazon and Netflix, plus many other big names in media are members of this alliance. Members have agreed on performance metrics for resolution, high dynamic range (HDR), peak luminance, black levels, and wide color gamut among others. Devices which match or exceed these metrics will display the “Ultra HD Premium” logo on their packaging.

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The new 4K Fire TV only supports 4K video, not a 4K interface or 4K apps, and thats a good thing

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One of the best features of the new Amazon Fire TV is that it supports 4K video playback. However the interface, apps, and games will not be displayed in 4K. Here’s why that’s a good thing, as well as everything else you need to know about the 4K aspect of the new Fire TV. Read more ›

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Amazon announces new Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and Alexa voice control

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Amazon has announced the next-generation Fire TV. It is now available for pre-order in the US, the UK, and Germany. It will retail for $99.99 and will begin arriving on customer’s doorsteps on October 5th.

While the new Fire TV looks the same on the outside, it’s entirely different on the inside. As expected, the new device is capable of 4K UHD video and comes with Alexa voice assistant built-in. It features a quad-core 2.0 Ghz MediaTek 8173C CPU, a dedicated PowerVR GX6250 GPU, and 2GB of RAM under the hood. It connects to the internet through either an ethernet port or 802.11ac wireless. The new Fire TV has 8GB of internal storage which can be expanded via the new microSD card slot or via a USB drive connected to its USB port. It has an HDMI port and still includes an optical audio port.

The new Fire TV comes with a new revised voice remote that no longer uses bluetooth, but instead connects via wifi direct which reduces latency and greatly improves battery life. There is also a new much improved Fire TV Game Controller available separately for $49.99 which also uses wifi direct for improved latency and battery life. The new game controller now features a microphone for voice commands and a headphone jack for private listening. If you’re planning to buy the game controller, you’re much better off buying the new Fire TV Gaming Bundle for $139.99. Not only do you save $10 compared to buying the new Fire TV and new Fire TV Game Controller separately, but you also get a 32GB MicroSD card and two free games. Do realize though that the gaming bundle does not come with the standard voice remote.

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Amazon Prime Instant Video now streaming in 4K Ultra HD

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Amazon today announced that they will begin offering select streaming video content in 4K Ultra HD resolution at no additional charge. This includes content available for free to Prime members. The selection of 4K content is a bit limited at the moment, including only a small selection of TV shows and Movies from Amazon Studios, BBC, and Sony Pictures. In order to view the new 4K content, you must use one of 33 compatible 4K TVs with Amazon Instant Video built in. Read more ›

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