It’s already the third episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones, but have you been watching the series the best way possible? Here are all the ways to watch GOT, ranked according to what we think are the best viewing experiences.
6. Phones and Tablets
Sorry, but small screens (even if Retina) are probably the worst way to watch Game of Thrones. The series is so full of details that how could you cram it all into a tiny screen? Plus, depending on your connection (Wi-Fi cellular) you might not get GOT in the best resolution offered which is currently 1080p. Instead, you might get 720p or 480p.
Now if a smartphone is your only option, go for it. Phones and tablets these days do have amazing resolution (take, for example, Retina displays). But be sure to watch the episodes again later on a big screen to experience what the filmmakers (we call them “film” makers, because the series is so cinematic) intended the show to look like. You can watch GOT using the HBO Go or HBO Now app for Android and iOS devices, or through your TV or streaming service provider’s own app.
5. Laptops & Desktops
Some tablets have screens as big as small laptops, but generally a laptop or desktop is going to have a larger display. In fact, the most common computer screen resolutions are 1366 x 768 and 1920 x 1080 (Full HD). Plus, there are some killer computer screens out there with high frame rates, 4k resolution, HDR, and wide contrast ratio. And, many have 16:9 aspect ratio, which is perfect for Game of Thrones!
You can watch Game of Thrones through a web browser on HBOGo.com, HBONow.com, or through your TV or streaming service provider’s website.
4. 4k & HDTVs (via Set-Top Box or App)
The best way to watch Game of Thrones is on big screen TV with the lights dimmed and sound cranked as much as possible without disturbing the neighbors. We suggest having your TV in Film/Movie or Natural mode so the colors look more realistic. But if you’re an Instagram filter freak and love high contrast and saturated colors go for it! Who is going to say you can’t?
However, beware of On Demand and DVR (recorded) versions of Game of Thrones. Some providers add compression to the already compressed video to save storage space. We’ve noticed On Demand versions are the worst. If anything, try to watch a live broadcast of the episodes.
Or, you can stream GOT using the HBO Go or HBO Now app on a big screen TV. The apps can be found on Smart TVs and streaming media players and will often provide superior quality to traditional cable feeds, especially since the internet-based apps can serve 1080p resolution rather than HBO’s default 1080i. This method could have been ranked higher, but because internet speed and reliability can vary we’ve put it with traditional cable service.
GOT on TV can be watched through your TV service provider subscription to HBO, or through a streaming service such as HBO Now, Hulu, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and others.
3. Blu-ray Disc
The best way to watch Game of Thrones is on Blu-ray Disc. The discs have been formatted to perfection and there will be no dropouts, additional video degradation beyond the compression used to fit the episodes on disc, or other imperfections that could be experienced especially when streaming over the internet. And, a Dolby Atmos soundtrack creates an even better, immersive audio experience. Best viewed on a 4k TV (that upscales the 1080p) or a 1080p (Full HD) TV and sound bar that supports Dolby Atmos.
2. 4k Blu-ray Disc
Season 1 of Game of Thrones was released to Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc last summer and is a huge improvement from the original Blu-ray Disc releases. What’s more, HDR (High Dynamic Range) adds color depth not possible before in home media. And, like 1080p Blu-ray editions the episodes feature Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio for an immersive audio experience. Best viewed on a 4k Ultra HD with High Dynamic Range (HDR10) and sound bar that supports Dolby Atmos.
OK so not everyone got to see “The Watchers on the Wall” and “The Children” (Episodes 9 & 10 of Season 4) at IMAX, but this was truly the best way to watch Game of Thrones. Maybe someday the theater will have another limited showing, but you might not hold your breath.