With Netflix having announced plans for 4K streaming in 2014, it was only a matter of time before YouTube responded.
And, sure enough, YouTube is reportedly planning to demo its own improved, low-bandwidth 4K streaming technology at tech trade show CES next week, according to GigaOM. The service has supported 4K for some time already, but its new announcements will centre on tackling the main problem with the whole concept of 4K streaming - the bandwidth limitations of our creaky broadband and mobile networks.
YouTube won't be using the same H.265 video codec that's at the heart of Netflix's 4K streaming plan – instead, it'll use parent company Google's royalty-free VP9 codec to blast Ultra HD video down your internet pipes.
Like Netflix, YouTube is also emphasising the benefits of the VP9 codec for non-4K viewers – as well as delivering 4K at acceptable bitrates, it'll also reduce the bitrates of non-4K videos – which should, YouTube reckons, mean an end to the hell that is buffering.
That's just as well, since 4K remains a far-off dream for many. Though if Polaroid's plan to release a US$1000 4K TV comes to fruition, Ultra HD may be here sooner than we were expecting.