Google to show off low-bandwidth 4K YouTube streaming at CES

Google has plenty of partners supporting its new 4K bandwidth, according to a report, so this could be the year of 4K.

Joe Svetlik Reporter
Joe has been writing about consumer tech for nearly seven years now, but his liking for all things shiny goes back to the Gameboy he received aged eight (and that he still plays on at family gatherings, much to the annoyance of his parents). His pride and joy is an Infocus projector, whose 80-inch picture elevates movie nights to a whole new level.
Joe Svetlik
2 min read

Get set, 2014 could be the year that 4K takes off. Netflix has already announced 4K streaming will come to the service this year, and not to be outdone, Google has said YouTube will improve its 4K offerings.

The video site will demo its new low-bandwidth 4K streaming technology, called VP9, at CES next week, GigaOm reports. YouTube already offers 4K videos, but because of the high resolution and hence bigger data files, it tends to bring to a halt all but the fastest broadband connections. But that should be righted next week.

VP9 should mean slicker streaming for all YouTube videos, whether they're 4K or not. It'll make buffering a thing of the past, according to Google. "By 2015, you'll be surprised every time you see that spinning wheel," Francisco Varela, Google's global director of platform partnerships, told GigaOm.

4K, or Ultra HD as it's also known, has four times the resolution of regular HD. It's still a nascent technology at the moment, with TVs still prohibitively expensive, and not many 4K films or TV shows to watch on them. But that will change, slowly.

The VP9 codec is owned by Google and is royalty-free. Netflix, meanwhile, will use the H.265 codec.

More than a dozen companies are on board to help push VP9, including Intel, ARM, Broadcom and Nvidia. Sony, LG, Sharp, Samsung, Panasonic and Toshiba should also be showing VP9 videos on their tellies at CES.

"Our friends across the industry are getting on board to help in a big way," Varela told The Register. "Starting in 2014, you'll see products from major mobile, PC and TV partners that are using a new, more efficient video format called VP9 that gives you HD quality at half the bandwidth."

Is 4K the future? How much would you spend on a new 4K TV? Let me know in the comments, or on our Ultra HD Facebook page.