Can the Xbox One and PS4 Stream 4K HDR? What to Know About Console Media Playback

In spite of the recent unveiling of several 8K TVs at CES 2019, 4K will continue to be the resolution to hit for those that produce content on YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, and so on.

And in the Ultra HD age, it can be a bit confusing to figure out which streaming devices support 4K and HDR, especially when it comes to gaming consoles.

If you own an Xbox One or PS4 you’ve probably wondered whether or not it is capable of streaming your favorite streaming service in both 4K and HDR.

The answer? It depends on the exact model you’re using.

If you play on the Xbox One, you’re going to need to have either an Xbox One S or Xbox One X in order to stream lookers like Blue Planet 2 in 4K on Netflix. The same applies to HDR playback.

Unfortunately, if you own a launch model of the Xbox One, the one that looks like a throwback to a VCR, you won’t be able to stream either format.

Things are a little murkier on the Sony side of things. All PS4 consoles are capable of displaying HDR in games, but in order to stream Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube in 4K HDR you’ll need to own the PS4 Pro.

Which Streaming Services Do PS4 and Xbox One Support?

showtime anytime home screen
Showtime Anytime, while not offered natively on PS4, can be accessed via Hulu, Amazon, or PlayStation Vue add-ons

I’ve put together a chart for streaming and Blu-ray support for the original PS4 and Xbox One models, slim revisions, and enhanced consoles to make understanding the media capabilities of these consoles a little easier.

Below you’ll see whether or not the console supports a particular service and if it offers 4K HDR playback.

Remember, if you have a 4K TV, it will upscale all content to 4K.

[table id=1 /]

Should You Upgrade?

Buying into the wave of 4K can be a costly endeavor: you need a 4K TV, upgraded streaming services, new 4K Blu-rays, and a device capable of playing Ultra HD formats.

And if you own one of the base model consoles, you might be looking at a few extra hundred dollars for the new 4K capable models.

But is it actually worth it to upgrade?

If all you are interested in is 4K HDR Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube, the answer is probably no.

Interested in more than just streaming? One of the newer models might make sense.

The Xbox One S is going to be the best budget machine for 4K playback. It allows for Ultra HD streaming, Ultra HD Blu-ray playback, and HDR gaming.

The Xbox One X will be the best place for 4K gaming in addition to what the S offers.

And finally, the PS4 Pro is the best option for those that prefer Sony’s first party games (Horizon Zero Dawn, Spider Man, God of War, etc.). Do note that the Pro does not feature an Ultra HD Blu-Ray drive and can only stream in the format.

You should also know that you can’t use YouTube TV on the PS4 Pro (or any variant) most likely due to the existence of PlayStation VUE.

If you’re only interested in streaming content the best solution for you is to invest in one of the many 4K capable streaming devices or use apps built into your TV.

Some of the top devices on the market include:

  • Fire TV Stick 4K
  • Roku Premiere Plus
  • Chromecast Ultra
  • Apple TV 4K

In terms of smart TV functionality, app availability is going to depend on your TV’s manufacturer. For instance, Sony TVs use Android TV while LG uses an in house platform called webOS.

Dedicated streaming devices will more often than not offer better fluidity and functionality compared to built in TV apps, but getting a feel for your TV’s limitations will help you pick the best device.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that Amazon’s devices lack YouTube TV functionality and the Chromecast Ultra is unable to cast Amazon’s streaming service.

Hopefully, as the market penetration of 4K content continues, Microsoft and Sony will come out swinging with their next-gen consoles when it comes to Ultra HD playback.

In the meantime, us gamers will have to make due with the fragmented and sometimes confusing landscape of 4K content.

Leave a Comment