Watching Netflix in Ultra HD 4K….Maybe

May 22nd, 2014 · 2 Comments · 4K Curved Screeen, 4K LED LCD, Connected TVs, News, UHD (4K) Media Players, UHDTV

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Since a 4K TV or media player must have HEVC/H.265 decoding to view Netflix’s exclusive hit series House of Cards at 3840 x 2160 resolution, we’ve been anxiously awaiting our first 4K sample with this ability . We’ve finally been able to watch the show’s 4K episodes using a Samsung UN65HU9000 . However, it appears Netflix’s delivery system is buggy, making 4K viewing of the series a hit and miss proposition.

More details after the break.

What happens when we connect to Netflix? HD Guru was told by the Netflix spokesperson how its 4K delivery system works. You start out at standard definition resolution, which they call 480 SD. If the Netflix server sees you can accept a faster bit-rate, it will climb to 720 HD, then 1080 HD, and when it’s possible, 2160 UHD.

That’s how it’s supposed to work. Unfortunately, we’ve seen it climb up the speed ladder then fall down and stay at one of the lower resolutions. If the connection successfully climbs the resolution ladder to UHD it’s usually within 1 minute. If it fails, the stream will lock-in at a lower resolution, depriving the user of 4K viewing pleasure. This problem is not consistent and exiting and restarting the same 4K House of Cards episode may yield a better result.

Readers with Netflix and an HEVC equipped 4K TV can see the resolution they’re getting by hitting the Info button on the TV‘s remote control. House of Cards is streamed at 4K resolution only with Season 2 Episode 2 through Season 2 Episode 13; all others are in HD (1920 x 1080).

 

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According to published reports and confirmed today by the Netflix spokesperson, Netflix agreed to pay Verizon FiOS an undisclosed amount for a more direct connection to the Netflix servers to provide better, more consistent picture quality. The spokesperson told HD Guru the reconfiguring of Netflix delivery to FiOS is not complete and the ability to view Netflix in 4K should improve as time goes on.

My FiOS account has a rated connection speed of 75Mbps, and using speed tests often comes in at over 80 Mbps. Netflix says you need 15 Mbps for its 4K Ultra HD service.

The statement we received from a Netflix spokesperson is as follows:

“From our side I would describe some of the problems you experienced as kinks that may happen when there’s new technology that pushes the boundaries, we are focused on resolving those and work closely with our hardware partners to do that.”

Sources tell us the 4K streaming issue is affecting all brands of Netflix equipped 4K TVs, not just Samsungs.

Now that we have this issue better understood, we will be publishing our review of the Samsung UN65HU9000 soon, stay tuned.

For more on HEVC encoding read Geoff Morrison article explaining the different compression schemes here.

 

 

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • YodaSyrup

    I too own a Samsung UN55HU9000 with a wired FiOS connection. I have yet to see a Netflix 4K selection in anything higher than 480SD. I too, get a bandwidth speed of 75Mbs download at the television. What up Netflix and FiOS?

  • Stringfellow

    @HDGURU – Would it be more feasible to have a “Netflix External HD” where patrons can download the movies they want prior to watching them? Otherwise, it could continuously download a portion of the film as you stream it so that there is no disruption in the pure 4K output.

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