What you need to know about 4K Ultra HD content on Netflix

Marvel's Jessica Jones

‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones’ will be available to stream in 4K Ultra HD when it premieres on Netflix Friday, Nov. 20.

I recently got to test a 65″ Vizio M-Series 4K TV at home for about a month. The TV offers many great features and is almost perfect in every aspect. But it’s the picture quality, especially when watching 4K content, that truly sets it apart from other TVs in this market (regular high-def content, even from a cable or satellite box source, also looks great on the M-Series).

Also known as Ultra HD and Super HD, my only source for true 4K content was via Netflix. And since not all devices that Netflix is available on can handle 4K (I’m looking at you Apple TV) I ended up using the native Netflix app that Vizio has available via their built-in Smart TV app store.

Here is what I found about Netflix’s 4K Ultra HD content after watching as much of it as I could over the course of a month.

You need to upgrade your account to access 4K Ultra HD content on Netflix

When I first went looking for 4K Ultra HD content on Netflix I was surprised that I couldn’t find any. This turned out to be because I only had the standard streaming account (the $9.99 per month one) and not the upgraded premium account ($11.99 a month), which offers Ultra HD content and the ability to watch Netflix on four screens at once. You also need to have your quality settings set to “High” (this can be found in your account settings under My Profile > Playback Settings).

Once I upgraded my account and changed my settings I instantly saw a 4K content section appear when I started browsing Netflix.

You need the right equipment and Internet connection to watch 4K Ultra HD content on Netflix

First (and this might sound obvious), you need a 4K TV in order to watch 4K content. While I am a fan of Vizio’s 4K lineup (mainly because they are quality TVs and are reasonably priced), Samsung, LG, Sony and Sharp all have great 4K TV options that work with Netflix. Check what TV brands and models Netflix supports here.

If you plan to stream via a streaming device this is where you need to take note. As I mentioned earlier, the Apple TV does not support 4K streaming. Neither does the Google Chromecast. And the PS4 and XBOX One currently don’t currently stream 4K (but they both might be one day). The only streaming devices that Netflix recommends for 4K Ultra HD content are the Roku 4, TiVo Bolt (not available in Canada), NVIDIA Shield and the new version of the Amazon Fire TV.

Lastly, your Internet connection has to be able to keep up with the large amounts of data 4K Ultra HD content streams. Netflix recommends no less than a 25Mbps connection in order to stream their 4K Ultra HD content.

The 4K Ultra HD content Netflix currently has available is very limited

Besides most of their own programming being in 4K Ultra HD (Narcos, House of Cards, Marco Polo, Daredevil, sense8, plus a couple others) there are only a few movies available, such as The Smurfs 2, Hitch and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (you can also watch Breaking Bad in 4K Ultra HD).

Netflix also offers some special nature documentary programming to highlight the quality of 4K. These are titled after the topic they are based on (Oceans, Forests, Deserts and Flowers) and all look tremendous in 4K Ultra HD.

Netflix has announced there will be more 4K Ultra HD content added in the future. Nothing new appeared in the 4K section while I was testing the TV, but Marvel’s Jessica Jones premieres on Nov. 20 and will be available in 4K Ultra HD.

BELOW: Watch the trailer for Marvel’s Jessica Jones

4K Ultra HD content uses much more bandwidth than regular HD content

When you upgrade the speed of your Internet connection you may also want to get unlimited bandwidth as well. Two episodes of Narcos (which is one of the best shows around and I highly recommend it) used roughly 14GB of bandwidth. Watching all 10 episodes of the series ate over 70GB of bandwidth. If you decide to binge-watch it along with something like Marvel’s Jessica Jones you’ll be pushing upwards of 150GB.

The quality of 4K Ultra HD content on Netflix will blow you away

Just like going from VHS to DVD and DVD to Blu-ray, the difference in quality going from regular HD to 4K Ultra HD is very noticeable and it will indeed knock your socks off. While viewing the Oceans documentary I almost forgot I was watching television it was so crystal clear (both my cats even tried jumping at the TV when a fish swam across the screen). And the quality of Narcos in 4K gave me extra goosebumps (seriously, you need to watch this show).

No, you don’t need to run out to upgrade to a 4K TV today. But if you’re in the market for a new television and have the chance to check out some of the 4K content Netflix has to offer, you will most definitely be a convert.

BELOW: Watch the trailer for Narcos

Share your thoughts and questions on Netflix’s 4K Ultra HD content in the comments below.

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Posted in Digital Life, TV
5 comments on “What you need to know about 4K Ultra HD content on Netflix
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