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HolidayBuyer's Guide

The state of 4K TV

'Chef's Table'

'Breaking Bad'

'Better Call Saul'

'The Crown'

'Marvel's Daredevil'

'Aerial America'

'The Man in the High Castle'

'Stranger Things'

'Santa Clarita Diet'

'House of Cards'

'Marvel's Luke Cage'

'Mysteries of the Rainforest'

'Orphan Black'

'David Attenborough's Conquest of the Skies'

'Narcos'

'Transparent'

'Masters of Sex'

'Marvel's Jessica Jones'

'Marvel's The Defenders'

'Bloodline'

'Good Girls Revolt'

'Bosch'

Looking for a movie to watch?

So, you've invested in a 4K TV, but we're still living in a world dominated by 1080p. There are a few outlets where you can access genuine 4K series, if you have the right gear. 

Apple TV doesn't support 4K yet, but Roku, Fire TV and Chromecast all have UHD channels (available on some, but not all, of their devices). You'll also probably need to connect your TV to Ethernet to take advantage of its full capabilities, unless you have blazing-fast Wi-Fi. Netflix has started shooting its originals in higher-res formats (like 5K and 6K) and mastering them in 4K for streaming. Frequently though, studios still render scenes with lots of special effects in 2K and scale them up after the fact. So, if the Demogorgon looks a little funny, that's why.

Along with 4K, we're in the midst of an HDR moment. HDR, or high dynamic range, is basically an improvement in contrast and color accuracy that lends a more realistic picture. Oftentimes, that's the picture-quality improvement on these 4K programs that will "pop" even more to the average viewer than the additional resolution.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Netflix's culinary docuseries "Chef's Table" is filmed in 6K and mastered in 4K for streaming. The vivid picture quality captures each chef's creations in appetite-inducing detail.

Caption by / Photo by Netflix

AMC's hit series "Breaking Bad" has been rescanned from its original 35mm film for 4K viewing on both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The improved picture quality makes the gritty, gory crime world that much more in your face.

Caption by / Photo by AMC

"Better Call Saul," the prequel to "Breaking Bad," was filmed in 6K and mastered in 4K for streaming on Netflix and Amazon. The universe introduced in "Breaking Bad" gets better (and bloodier) with every additional pixel.

Caption by / Photo by AMC

The very pretty first season of Netflix's "The Crown" was completely filmed in 4K, and the UHD resolution makes the critically acclaimed cinematography, costume and set designs that much more lavish.

Caption by / Photo by Netflix

"Marvel's Daredevil" is filmed and streamed in 4K HDR. The colors and textures of the 4K HDR format are so lifelike, it will feel like the Marvel universe is happening in front of your eyes instead of through a camera lens.

Caption by / Photo by Netflix

The newest season of the Smithsonian Channel's "Aerial America" was filmed completely in 4K, and you can stream the 4K video from their digital channel, available on Roku and Amazon's Fire TV. The series is perfect for UHD viewing because every single shot is a beautiful piece of sweeping aerial photography.

Caption by / Photo by Smithsonian Channel

"The Man in the High Castle" is shot in 6K and available for streaming in 4K. Seeing Times Square reimagined with Nazi propaganda posters in this alternate-reality adventure is frightening, especially in 4K.

Caption by / Photo by Amazon

Bigger Demogorgons are better Demogorgons. Netflix's "Stranger Things" is shot in 6K and available for streaming in 4K. The show's spot-on stylistic choices and goo-covered monsters should be appreciated in as many pixels as possible.

Caption by / Photo by Netflix

"Santa Clarita Diet," a zombie comedy, is filmed in 4K HDR to maximize every morbid detail. You can stream this hilarious bloodbath on Netflix, if you have the stomach for it.

Caption by / Photo by Netflix

"House of Cards" has been shot in 5K since its second season, and it makes the show look even more crisp and stylish. You can stream the show in 4K on Netflix or purchase a copy from Amazon's digital library.

Caption by / Photo by Netflix

"Marvel's Luke Cage" is shot in an enormous 6K resolution with HDR color. The result: it's simultaneously very real-looking and stylistically faithful to the comic series. You can stream this show in 4K on Netflix.

Caption by / Photo by Netflix

Great news, nature buffs! Every shot of "Mysteries of the Rainforest" was filmed in true 4K. From shots soaring above the rainforest canopy to scenes that get up close and personal with nocturnal tree frogs, watching this Smithsonian Channel series on a 4K TV will bring the rainforest to you.

Caption by / Photo by Smithsonian Channel

"Orphan Black," available on Amazon Prime Video, features one enormous special effects stunt: the same actress plays a dozen characters. The first two seasons were shot on 2K and upscaled to 4K, and are available on Amazon in 4K. The remaining seasons of the show were filmed in 4K, but on Amazon they're only in 1080p for now.

Caption by / Photo by BBC America

This stunning nature series about the worlds of birds and bats features incredible aerial and macro photography. It was shot in 4K and in 3D. You can stream "David Attenborough's Conquest of the Skies" in 4K on the Smithsonian Channel's digital network, available on Roku and Amazon's Fire TV.

Caption by / Photo by Smithsonian Channel

This gritty Netflix thriller has been praised for its true-to-life depictions of the events surrounding Pablo Escobar and the Colombian drug kingpins of the '80s. Every scene of "Narcos" is shot in 5K, and the show streams in 4K.

Caption by / Photo by Netflix

If you're not into superheroes and zombies, Amazon's "Transparent," shot and streamed in 4K, is all about family. Realism beats glamor in the show's makeup and wardrobe choices, a style that's even more enjoyable in super-high resolution.

Caption by / Photo by Amazon

You can purchase all four seasons of "Masters of Sex," shot in 4K, from Amazon's digital library. The amazing costumes and set designs span the stylish years from the 1950s through the 1970s and are best appreciated in as many pixels as possible.

Caption by / Photo by Showtime

Netflix's "Jessica Jones," filmed in 6K HDR, tackles themes like rape, addiction and PTSD, uniquely human issues for a superhero show. Those human themes would be noteworthy in any format, but watching her reluctantly kick ass is so much cooler when you stream it in 4K HDR.

Caption by / Photo by Netflix

Netflix also filmed "The Defenders" in 6K HDR, which you can stream in 4K when all eight episodes of this limited series go live on August 18, 2017.

Caption by / Photo by Netflix

Netflix shot this Florida-based thriller in 4K HDR. You can almost feel the swampy humidity coming from your 4K TV when watching "Bloodline" in UHD.

Caption by / Photo by Netflix

If you loved the look of "Mad Men," we recommend you check out the one (and only) season of "Good Girls Revolt" on Amazon Prime video. This show was shot in 6K, and the costumes and set designs are totally immersive if you're streaming in UHD.

Caption by / Photo by Amazon

This crime drama is filmed in 5K HDR. The wide shots of the Los Angeles skyline and the gritty up-close LAPD action scenes almost look almost 3D when you stream "Bosch" in 4K.

Caption by / Photo by Amazon

If you have a Blu-ray player, there are also some great options for 4K UHD viewing that our team has recommended.

Caption by / Photo by 20th Century Fox
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