updated 03:41 pm EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
High-resolution Netflix streams require 2014 smart TVs, fast Internet connection
Netflix has started to stream content at Ultra High Definition (4K), starting with original series House of Cards and a number of nature documentaries. The plans, which it first revealed last year and promoted at CES, provides owners of 4K televisions with more programming, though there are a number of caveats that potential viewers must work around.
According to CNET, streams at the resolution will only be viewable on 4K-resolution smart TVs released in 2014 that include the H.265/HEVC decoder. Owners of earlier 4K televisions will for the most part miss out, though some may be upgradable to add HEVC. Current set-top boxes do not have the capability of playing the content either. Those owning a suitable television will still need to have a fast connection, with Netflix previously noting that its 4K streams are encoded at 15.6Mbps, and so requires a fast connection.
House of Cards, Netflix
HDTVTest tried out the service in the United Kingdom, and noticed instances of posterization in some areas. In brighter scenes, it noticed a boost in gamma and contrast, as well as a noticeable improvement in clarity when switching between 1080p and 4K streams.
Netflix's 4K streaming will most likely be welcomed by owners of 4K televisions starved of high-resolution content. Previously, owners of Sony 4K televisions were able to buy a dedicated media player pre-loaded with content, accompanied by a download store offering more shows and films. Amazon is also filming its original content in 4K for future streaming.