Game of Thrones is now streaming in 4K HDR on HBO Max

game of Thrones Fans had many issues with the show’s final season, and one of their most vehement criticisms was related to a technical issue rather than plot concerns: viewers complained that they couldn’t see the action during the Battle of Winterfell because the episode was only “too dark.” Now, more than three years after the episode aired, HBO is offering a new way to stream the show that might help.

HBO Max users worldwide can now stream all eight seasons of game of Thrones in 4K resolution with HDR color – both Dolby Vision and HDR10 – and Dolby Atmos surround sound, HBO announced Monday. These modern video and audio formats represent the pinnacle when it comes to the home theater experience.

house of the dragonThe first game of Thrones Spinoff series will also be able to stream in these formats when they premiere on Aug. 21, HBO said.

This is an important milestone for the company. game of Thrones is the first HBO series to support these cutting-edge formats, and house of the dragon will be the first to debut with this support. That will put the nearly 50-year-old cable TV network on par with the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Video, and Hulu, all of which have offered programming in 4K HDR for years. (HBO Max will support these formats in late 2020 with the premiere of Wonder Woman 1984but as of Monday, the service’s 4K catalog was limited to movies, not TV series — and only about 30 of them.)

There are some caveats here. For one, only customers who subscribe to HBO Max’s ad-free tier — which costs 50% more than the ad-carrying version of the service — can stream content in 4K. (This type of feature gating isn’t exclusive to HBO Max; 4K streaming is only available on the most expensive Netflix plan.)

While HBO Max is accessible on a variety of devices, not all support 4K. The HBO Max help page lists the Xbox One S, Xbox One X, Xbox Series S, and Xbox Series X as 4K-capable platforms, but doesn’t mention the PlayStation 4 Pro or PlayStation 5 – which is odd given the PS5 app has been reporting reportedly updated with 4K support in mid-June. I loaded a sequence of game of Thrones on my PS5 and it didn’t seem to play in 4K or HDR10. (Unlike Xbox devices, PlayStation consoles don’t support Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision.) We’ve contacted HBO for clarification and will update this article with any information we receive.

I can’t stress enough how much you get to watch game of Thrones in these new formats depends on your setup. This was the only way I could play the show in 4K with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos sound was created using the HBO Max app on my LG C1 TV. When I tried to use the app on my Chromecast with Google TV, I got 4K but in HDR10 and not Dolby Vision, albeit with Atmos. Casting HBO Max from my phone to the Chromecast, I got 4K and Dolby Vision, but Dolby Digital Plus sound instead of Atmos. And despite the information on the HBO Max help page, the HBO Max app produced my Xbox One X 4K HDR10 video with Dolby Digital Plus. (All these apps/devices are said to support 4K, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.)

Assuming you can stream successfully game of Thrones In 4K HDR at home, it might be worth loading up “The Long Night” – the infamous episode that was “too dark” – to see if you have a better viewing experience than it did in April 2019. Watch those now Show on in 4K HDR via HBO Max is not yet possible absolutely best possible experience; To get that, you would need to pick up a copy of game of Thrones to 4K Blu-ray which would offer higher video quality. But the new streaming option offers a significant upgrade over the standard HBO Max experience, which is 1080p resolution with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio.

days after game of Thrones When the finale aired, Polygon ran a lengthy article in which I explored why The Long Night looked so rough. The explanation lay in a confluence of several factors, including the filmmakers’ creative vision and how they encountered the limitations of broadcast television and streaming video technology. You can read the story for more – like a a lot of more – details, but a main problem was the lack of HDR.

One of the main advantages HDR offers over standard dynamic range is a wider color gamut, which greatly reduces a problem known as banding, where smooth gradations of color are broken up into different, well, bands. In fact, I noticed a lot less banding (and a lot less pixelation) when I watched The Long Night in 4K Dolby Vision. I still felt like I had to keep the room dark to have the best chance of seeing everything, but in this case I was finally able to see the action, unhindered by video compression issues.

In the above article, I said that HDR “has the potential to be the most impactful advancement in television technology since the advent of HD resolution and digital television [2000s]’ while lamenting that ‘it hasn’t achieved widespread adoption either on the content side or on the consumer side.’ I also said in a hopeful note at the end of the article that “a lot can change in a relatively short amount of time”. And I’ve outlined a way forward for HBO:

Now, HBO could start mastering its content in 4K HDR like Netflix does with its live-action originals. That would allow the company to broadcast the existing 1080i version with standard dynamic range game of Thrones via the HBO linear television channel and delivering a 4K HDR feed to streaming viewers via HBO Go/Now.

That was in spring 2019. Now, in summer 2022, HBO will do just that house of the dragon. The long-awaited future is here.

https://www.polygon.com/23287801/game-of-thrones-house-of-the-dragon-4k-hdr-hbo-max-dolby-atmos-vision Game of Thrones is now streaming in 4K HDR on HBO Max

Charles Jones

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