In the UK, the much anticipated Planet Earth II is debuting on the BBC, featuring the ubiquitous and silky smooth voice of demigod Sir David Attenborough, the deserved ruler of nature documentaries.
The latest nature documentary took three years to make, spanning 177 filing trips and 2089 shooting days, across 40 different countries.
But it wasn’t just this, or even the return of Attenborough, that had many buzzing with anticipation. Word on the street is that the latest look into the world of lions, sloths and crocs would be filmed entirely in 4K, also known as Ultra HD.
4K is the latest upgrade from the now standard High Definition (HD) and can pack in a whopping 3840 by 2160 pixels, giving unprecedented detail to your television experience.
Which brings out the obvious question – how can I watch Planet Earth II in 4K?
The answer, frustratingly, is that you can’t. At least not for now, as we write this in the latter part of 2016.
This is simply because 4K is still new to the scene, and the BBC has no 4K channel. So even if you have a 4K television ready and waiting, you simply can’t get the show sent to your TV in 4K quality. The technology isn’t quite there yet. Your 4K TV may make the picture quality a tad nicer than a standard HDTV, but it’s not 4K.
For those turning to the Internet, you’re still out of luck, as BBC’s online video player, the iPlayer doesn’t support 4K either. We know, frustrating! However it is the Internet where you’ll probably be able to find it in 4K quality first. The word on the street is that 4K will be coming to iPlayer soon(ish). After all, other streaming services like Netflix have begun adopting 4K – the technology is there! So fingers crossed.
But you will need the technology in place first. When iPlayer begins supporting 4K streams, you’ll find yourself needing three things to capitalise.
1. An Internet connection capable of handling a 4K stream. Poor Internet connections will simply not be able to handle the amount of data needed to carry a 4K stream.
2. A decent graphics card. 4K content can be particularly demanding on the graphics of a PC or laptop, and shared graphics or old graphics cards are likely to result in annoying stuttering.
3. A 4K monitor. Of course, just like a 4K TV set will be needed to watch 4K in the living room, a 4K monitor is needed to support the resolution of online 4K content.
Providing you have all 3 of these ready, you’ll be ready to take advantage of shows like Planet Earth II when the BBC release the 4K option on their online iPlayer. (No doubt you’ll know that you can already also enjoy 4K videos on Netflix and even YouTube in the meantime.)
The only other option is purchasing the series on disc, since Ultra HD Blu-Ray discs have finally made their way onto the consumer scene. However, no release date for Ultra HD Blu-Ray discs for Planet Earth II have been announced, and when they are, you’ll need an Ultra HD Blu-Ray player at the ready.
And for those with 4K TV’s waiting for BBC 4K, this is likely to be a few years in the making yet.
Not on the 4K scene yet? You can check here for all of Amazon’s best 4K TV’s so you’ll be ready when 4K starts broadcasting.