DIRECTV Specials
DISH Specials

How to Enjoy 4K (Ultra HD) Programming on DIRECTV & DISH

If you’ve been TV shopping lately, you probably noticed 4K is all the rage in television tech. But what exactly is it? Well, also known as 4K Ultra and Ultra HD, 4K is the latest and greatest in consumer TV resolution, with roughly 4 times the clarity of 1090p. That is, while 1090p has 1090 horizontal rows of resolution, 4k has 3,840… and 2,160 vertical columns. In other words, all the pixels in a 4K TV (8,294,400 for the math sleuths) could re-create the exact look of four 1080p TVs or just combine up into one awesome 4K display. Pixels equal clarity, so the end result is an incredibly improved level of brightness, color balance and sharpness.

As prices on 4K UHD TVs continue to drop (since their launch in late 2014) and more folks adopt ’em, TV broadcasters are doing a fair job of keeping pace. With regard to satellite TV, while there still isn’t a ton of 4K programming available, your options are definitely on the upswing. New tech usually results in a single leader out of the gate and, thus far, DIRECTV has the upper hand. They have 3 channels assigned to it (2 of which are full-time) and on the sports side, are broadcasting select MLB Network and Notre Dame football games in 4K. DISH supports the 4K technology (ie, lets your TV up-convert 1090 HD into the best 4K signal it can), but the only DISH channel or app that broadcasts in true 4K is the Netflix app…which, by the way, you can now conveniently access directly via the Hopper menu.

In the near future, expect DIRECTV to steadily roll out more 4K coverage in related, high value areas, such as the HD Extra Pack and ultimately the big kahuna, the NFL SUNDAY TICKET. On the DISH side, we expect them to test out single channels first, lock in the performance and bandwidth, and carefully scale out. 4K’s the wave of the future, so this evolution WILL happen, just a matter of when and how quickly.

For now, read on for all the details on the 4K TV coverage currently found on satellite TV, including the equipment and plan requirements…

4K UHD Channel / App
DIRECTV
DISH
Channels
Ch# 104 (full time 4K) – a mix of nature docs and DIRECTV/AT&T Audience Network channel programming
currently n/a
Ch# 105 (full time 4K) – mostly live, event-related shows like concerts, big sporting events (golf, etc).
 
Ch# 106 (part time 4K) – pay-per-view movies and shorter-length documentaries (mostly nature/travel-related)
 
Apps
none embedded in Genie’s program guide
Netflix-embedded app within Hopper (navigate to channel #370 in the guide; Netflix subscription required)
Receiver requirements
Genie HD DVR, model HR54 and up (4K Genie minis for additional TVs). Alternatively, you can use a 4K TV with DIRECTV already embedded.
Hopper 3 HD DVR (4K Joeys for additional TVs)
Minimum Package Required
Must be subscribed to either the Ultimate or Premier plan.
For now, any dish plan will do. Expect that to change once they add dedicated 4K channels.

And don’t forget, you need a 4k-capable UHD TV to take advantage of the 4k programming above. Otherwise, you either won’t get access to the channel or your TV will automatically down-convert the signal to 1090p, etc.

So, is 4K Worth It?

Well, it might be a tad early for some (not enough programming), but if you’ve seen 4K Ultra HD in person, you know just how much better everything looks, especially within 8 feet (you can’t make out individual pixels so objects and colors are noticeably smoother). Bottom line: it won’t blow you away like the move from CRT to HD did, but it’s flat out a much richer and more immersive experience … and only gettin’ better as channels/studios create programming to take full advantage of all those juicy pixels :P.



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