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CES 2014 sees 4K video streaming courtesy of YouTube

Could 2014 be the year of 4K TV? New Ultra HD sets from LG, Samsung, and others are expected at next week's CES and prices are coming down slightly, but the main drawback of these sets is the lack of content to show off their spectacular displays.

YouTube is looking to help change that, and will show off 4K video at the 2014 CES.

"This year you'll see more of YouTube in HD on more screens with less buffering, so you can enjoy the videos your favorite channels put our every day," Google's global director of platform partnerships, Francisco Varela, said in a statement.

As first reported by GigaOm, the video sharing site's technology is based on the VP9 royalty-free codec, which provides HD quality at half the bandwidth.

"That's techno-speak for letting you watch that awesome HolaSoyGerman video from your phone in HD even as you get barraged by Snapchats, see the fine detail of finger-painted Morgan Freeman even on a slow Web connection, or one day, watching Devin Supertramp's Australia montage in 4K from your shiny new big-screen TV without crushing your home network," Varela said.

CES attendees can check out the ultra-HD content at the LG, Panasonic, and Sony booths at the Las Vegas Convention Centre.

VP9 is a follow-up to VP8, which Google unveiled in 2010. As noted by GigaOM, VP8 never really took off thanks to "a lack of hardware support and fierce opposition from some companies with vested interest in established commercial video formats." Still, while VP9 is intended to fill in for the more common H.265 video codec, there's room for both, Varela told GigaOm.

VP9, however, is picking up steam and now has the support of at least 17 hardware partners, including chipset vendors ARM, Intel, Broadcom, and Marvell, as well as consumer electronics brands Samsung, Sharp, and Toshiba, Google said today.

Another video-streaming site expected to have 4K news at CES is Netflix. Two months ago, the company posted a handful of short videos intended to demonstrate ultra high-definition capabilities. Late last year, a Netflix spokesman said "the plan is to offer 4K streaming in first half" of 2014.

"We think it's going to be the very first format that's going to predominantly delivered via the Internet," he said. "And we want to be at the forefront of that and amongst the very first services where you can get ultra HD or 4K content."

The spokesman estimated that 4K streaming would consume about 12 and 15 Mbps using the H.265 video codec. "But it's still early days, so we'll see," he said.

To see what else we're excited for at this year's CES, check out our preview of the event.

Image credit: Flickr (Karen Mensing)