Have an account? Sign in or Sign up

Netflix Starts 4K Streaming

Photo of family watching Netflix
Sean Fang Fri, 11/04/2014 - 23:28

4K early adopters will simultaneously welcome the news that Netflix has started streaming in 4K resolution, but many will rue their decision to be pioneers in this next generation of television technology, as the Netflix's chosen 4K codec is not compatible with most 4K TVs sold so far.

Testing of 4K streaming started late last year, and Netflix 4K was one of the key highlights of this year's CES show at Las Vegas. But Netflix's codec choice for 4K streaming will mean that many early adopters of expensive 4K TV sets will miss out on being able to stream shows like House of Cards in glorious 4K. Netflix has chosen to use HEVC/H.265, a relatively new codec, to stream 4K - most 4K TVs sold before this year do not support this advanced codec, which itself is an evolution of the industry standard H.264 codec used in applications such as Blu-ray. Most 4K TVs announced by the major brands at CES 2014, many of which are now beginning to reach customers, will support HEVC, as will the Samsung UNF9000 with the SEK-2500V evolution upgrade kit.

For those that pass the TV requirement, they will also need a super high speed Internet connection that currently only 15-20% of households have. The average speed needed to play just one 4K stream is 15.6 Mbps, which is far above the speed averages in most western developed countries.

Netflix shows currently available in 4K include the aforementioned House of Cards, and a selected few nature documentaries.

News Tags: