Netflix 4K streaming inches towards public release but will we be able to watch it?

April 10, 2014
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This week, HDTVtest found that Netflix’s 4K streaming appears to be live and operational but only to those with compatible ultra high-definition TV’s. Since the end of 2013, Netflix has stated that the company’s goal was to stream content in the 4K format by the end of 2014.

In the last year, Netflix has started offering Super HD and 3D streams if your ISP has signed up for the company’s new content delivery network. These Super HD streams need 5-7 Mbps of bandwidth while 3D streams need 6-12 Mbps of bandwidth. Netflix has previously stated that 15 Mbps will likely be the minimum needed for the format, though you’ll likely be happier with speeds of around 50 Mbps.

The reviews of the 4K streaming are positive:

“Every time the video stream switched from [1080p HD] to [2160 HD], it’s as if a veil had been lifted from the front of the screen, bringing objects – even faraway ones in long shots – into breathtaking clarity.

Whether the improvement is visible from normal viewing distances remains debatable, however there’s no denying that House of Cards S2 in 4K Ultra HD was by far and away the best-looking title we’ve seen among Netflix’s catalogue of movies and television series, making the company’s previous highest-quality [Super HD] streams seem blurry in comparison.”

Other issues with Netflix’s 4K streaming include ABC/Disney having no interest in 4K streaming and Gizmodo pointing out that binge watching a season of House of Cards in 4K will slam someone’s data usage to the tune of 75GB’s. For many on DSL connections, that puts them right up to their data cap limits while non-DSL users will see their data use rise tremendously and therefore put them closer to their caps. For example, with Comcast expanding their usage-cap trials of 300GB’s, it is not hard to see families running quite close to their data caps.

Add those issues onto the fact that someone will need a 4K display with a built-in HEVC decoder, an updated Netflix client TV, a sufficiently fast broadband speed package with high to no data caps, and an area in which Netflix has enabled 4K streaming, it is not that difficult to conclude that this product is still far away from general public use.

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