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From today, Amazon will allow some viewers to enjoy video streams in high dynamic range quality.
Amazon first revealed plans to introduce HDR streaming back in April, available only to Prime membership subscribers in the U.S. HDR basically improves the contrast of a video, effectively making shadows and highlights more distinctive — whites appear whiter and blacks appear blacker. It’s intended to better mimic what a human eye might see in the physical world, with more vivid and realistic colors.
Only one show will be available in HDR at the start, however: the first season of Mozart in the Jungle, an Amazon Original Series. And it will only be viewable on Samsung SUHD TVs, though the Internet giant says more HDR-supported titles and devices will be added later this year. VentureBeat can confirm independently that Amazon HDR streaming will also be landing on LG OLED 4K Ultra HD T.V.s “in the coming weeks” too.
This makes Amazon among the first streaming services to offer HDR-quality videos, even if it has limited scope to begin with. In its announcement earlier this year, Amazon said it would be made available to the U.K. and Germany too, but it looks like those markets will have to wait until later.
While Amazon has supported 4K Ultra HD since last year, it looks like Amazon has been pushing to expedite HDR support too, with Netflix expected to start streaming in HDR later this year. But it will be interesting to see how 4K and HDR work in conjunction with each other; while 4K is all about the amount of pixels on a screen, HDR should — in theory — help improve the performance of these pixels.
It’s worth restating here, however, that HDR will only be available to a very small subset of Amazon Instant Video users at first. Not only must you be based in the U.S., but you must subscribe to Prime ($99/year), and possess a compatible Samsung TV. For reference, the cheapest one for now will set you back north of $3,000, with higher-end models costing as much as $6,000.
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