Netflix is now rolling out 4K streaming on select content, meaning those with ultra high-def TV sets will have a crystal clear view of Frank Underwood’s devious plots on House of Cards.
As first reported by Multichannel News, the 4K option is available on the second season of Netflix’s popular political drama, as well as certain nature documentaries, but ”we will expand the available titles over time,” a Netflix spokesman said today.
”The first TVs from major manufacturers that can stream Netflix in Ultra HD 4K are now hitting store shelves,” he said. ”Streaming in Ultra HD 4K will simply work after you plug in the TV and connect it to a strong broadband connection, it is part of your Netflix subscription.”
Customers will need a 4K TV that has built-in HEVC (H.265), which allows for bandwidth-intensive 4K streams to arrive on your set without lag. That’s one of the biggest concerns regarding 4K streaming on Netflix – will it totally hose your network? In speaking with PCMag last year, a Netflix 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 at the time.
News about 4K streaming on Netflix emerged last year, when the company started testing 4K streams on a handful of short videos. The company then showed it off at this year’s CES (pictured), as did YouTube.
So how much better is 4K? It’s double the width and height, and four times the number of pixels compared to the best-quality streaming Netflix currently offers, meaning you’ll see a lot of detail. ”You can see wrinkles on people’s skin,” Netflix said at CES.
For now, 4K TV sets are still rather pricey, though Vizio did show off a sub-$1,000 50-Inch 4K HDTV at CES. More recently, Samsung started shipping its U9000 series of curved UHDTVs, with the 65-inch model retailing for $5,000 and the 55-inch model available for $4,000 (for more, check out the slideshow).