Netflix 4K: A complete how to on Ultra HD Streaming
With streaming services being extremely popular during this covid isolation period, it made me wonder. How many films or shows are available in 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) on Netflix and do they appear on 4K Smart TVs?
Finding out a full list of what was available is frustrating, let alone knowing if it’s actually working or if it’s just defaulting back to Standard HD.
If you don’t have a 4K TV or a Smart TV, you can turn your dumb TV into a Smart TV easily!
This guide is a breakdown of everything I’ve learned whilst trying to get 4K Netflix working on my Dumb & Smart TVs, if Netflix in 4K UHD is worth the additional fee and what is available as of writing this.
How much does the Netflix in 4K plan cost?
Netflix charges an additional fee for the 4K service, this will give you access to all the Ultra HD content they have. This means you will be streaming at 2160p rather than an upscaled verysion of 1080i/720p.
In short terms, this means it is TRUE 4K streaming.
This comes at a price point of $15.99 per month, but will allow you to stream TV shows & Movies on up to four devices at the same time in HD and UHD. You also have the ability to download these Movies and TV shows to your four specified phones & tablets.
Can my internet handle 4k UHD streaming?
4K streaming is pretty intensive on your broadband, so, you’re going to need a strong connection and one which can cycle around 25Mbps at the very minimum.
Check out my blog post on how fast your internet speed should be for a Smart Home, let alone a 4K TV.
If you have Fibre, this shouldn’t be too difficult as 25Mbps isn’t that much of a stretch in this day and age.
I would however suggest using an ethernet connection to your TV or Streaming Device as the buffering time for 4K can be a pain over WiFi.
Whilst Netflix does suggest 25Mbps at a very minimum, this will be sapped up by other devices on the network. I would suggest at least going for something that does 35Mbps or try doubling it.
Note: Make sure you don’t have a data cap, this will get chewed up in no time. Especially in the US. Given that 4K is quite popular now, you shouldn’t see too many issues, but it’s still worth checking.
According to fastmetrics, the average mbps in the US is 14.2 and in the UK it is 13mbps. As such, you may wish to upgrade if you have a low-end or average speed.
What do I need to stream 4K on Netflix?
A basic list of things you need to stream Netflix in 4K are:
- Netflix 4K Subscription (Upgrade your current plan)
- A sufficient broadband speed
- A 4K TV & 4K Streaming device
- HDMI 2.0 Cable (At the very least)
The best TV for 4K streaming
It’s pointless to get the 4K package for streaming if you don’t have a 4K compatible TV. This means you will need any TV which has the capability to show at 2160p. (A resolution of 3840px x 2160px).
8K TVs are becoming fairly popular however, streaming capabilities haven’t caught up. You will mostly see these on YouTube in very rare occasions.
By the time 8K UHD is available commonly, you’ll likely see budget 8K TVs on the market.
If you have an older 4K Television (Anywhere before 2014), it may not be HDCP 2.2-compliant. This makes your TV fully 4K Copy-Protected, as such, you will need at the very least a HDMI 2.0 cable.
It is worth noting, HDCP has been around for 10 years, so this isn’t anything new! It’s just becoming more standardised.
Netflix does have their own suggested TVs to get started with your 4K journey, each with their own “Netflix Recommended TV” Badge. It’s definitely worth reading over their program!
Some of these include the following:
- Philips 6500, 6700, 6800
- Panasonic GZ1500, GZ950, GX940, FXW945
- Samsung QLED 4K, QLED 8k, Premium UHD
- And the Sony Bravia range
Now that you have your 4K TV ready, you’re going to need a method of streaming 4K to that TV. Chances are you already have a Netflix App on your 4K TV as it’s likely to be a Smart TV.
However, in the case your TV isn’t a Smart TV, this breakdown should help with setting up you external 4K playback hardware.
You can stream in 4K using the following connected via HDMI into your TV:
- Xbox One X
- PS4 Pro
- Nvidia Shield
- Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
- Amazon Fire Cube 4K
- Sky Q
- Chromecast Ultra
- Apple TV 4K
- Roku Streaming Stick Plus
Can I watch 4K Netflix on my PC or Mac?
Yes, this is entirely possible but there’s a set of requirements for this. One of which is that your monitor needs to be 4K Compatible, much like your TV would be.
Much like the need for a 4K TV, your display will need to support HCDP 2.2 and run at around 60Hz, a cheaper monitor may advertise this but not work as expected, so do be careful!
You can also only stream 4K using Windows 10 & Microsoft Edge, although this is being replaced with a Chromium-based Microsoft Edge, so we may be seeing this across all Chromium based browsers very soon. Sorry Firefox.
You need to make sure that your PC is fully capable of using at least PlayReady 3.0, this requires an up to date version of Windows 10 and you will also need 10-bit HEVC encoding support via a seventh generation processor (Preferably Intel Kaby Lake or later).
In most cases, if you have a machine from late 2018/early 2019, you should be covered. If instead you have an Nvidia 10-series GPU, this should be able to handle the hardware load.
If you wish to do this on a Mac, as of current you would need to dual boot Windows 10.
Netflix HDR & Dolby Vision support
Netflix does support multiple HDR streaming formats, these are HDR10 and Dolby Vision. As per the prior points, you will need a TV that fully supports either Dolby Vision or HDR10.
Most TVs won’t have Dolby Vision as HDR10 is the free HDR streaming tool where as Dolby Vision requires a license.
Dolby Vision does look slightly better than HDR10, it has more tone to it and it appears that it can access a wider selection of tones. However, this does change from title to title.
If you’re not using a Smart TV, you can use a Streaming Stick but you will need to use a HDMI port that support HDCP 2.2+, you should see this on the back of your TV.
I don’t see a difference, is my 4K Stream working?
If you’ve got yourself a 4K streaming package, using a 4K TV, Using a supported set of hardware / streaming device, then you will by default be streaming in 4K.
Not every movie or show will be in Ultra HD 4K or Dolby Vision, if you go to your listings on Netflix, there should be a small box which says either “Dolby Vision” or “Ultra HD 4K“, not just “HD” as most TVs can support standard 720p HD.
It’s always worth checking if your Amazon Firestick or Firecube is plugged into the correct HDMI port, that being the one listed as HDCP 2.2 compliant. Not all TVs have multiple HDCP ports, so you may need to swap these out should you have multiple 4K systems in place.
What TV Shows & Movies are available in 4K on Netflix?
You can view a full list of 4K titles on Netflix here, however, some of the more popular titles include the following:
- 13 Reasons Why
- A Fall from Grace
- A series of Unfortunate Events
- Abstract: The Art of Design
- ADAM SANDLER 100% FRESH
- The ridiculous 6
- The Irishman
- The Innocent Man
- Sex Education
There’s a LOT of Ultra HD titles on Netflix, most of these are Netflix originals, so it’s definitely worth checking over!
Does HDR mean 4k on Netflix?
HDR doesn’t necessarily mean that your stream will be better or in 4K, but HDR is different to 4K. HDR will make your picture look better by spreading out the light and dark parts of your screen, this creates an extreme difference than your normal viewing.
It’s worth noting that a TV typically can’t go black but will often emulate it as best as possible. That’s what makes HDR so amazing, without it, your TV picture would be standard and try to find a middle ground between all the colours on the screen.
There’s a few levels of HDR as of the moment, there’s a basic level of HDR and also HDR10+, the latter calibrates the maximum brightness and darkness based on what it finds as the brightest and darkest parts of the entire movie/show you’re watching.
Some calibrate on a per scene or shot basis, but this really depends on the type of HDR you’re using. There’s only really one type of competitor to this which is Dolby View (Which is also available on Netflix).
To confirm, HDR is less likely to be used on Netflix if you have Dolby View which is more common. HDR requires your movie to be made with it in mind, your streaming platform to allow it (Netflix) and your TV & HDMI cable to be compatible.
It’s worth noting that HDR came out after 4K, as such most HDR products are compatible with Ultra HD 4K. This means, there’s not really any difference between 4K HDR and Ultra HD 4K.