Netflix recently began streaming “House of Cards” Season 2 in 4K last month. This week, the No. 1 subscription VOD service announced it is now offering Ultra HD (3840 x 2160p) versions of all 62 episodes of the AMC hit show “Breaking Bad,” as well as “Smurfs 2,” “Ghostbusters” and “Ghostbusters 2″ in the U.S.
However, only a few thousand subscribers actually have TVs capable of taking full advantage of the 4K format. Netflix reached a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment to add the 4K titles, which are available through select Ultra HD TV models from Sony, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics.
Netflix added “Smurfs 2″ to their 4K streaming service this week, under its deal for pay-TV window rights to Sony’s animated pics.
Ultra HD provides four times the resolution (3840 by 2160p) of regular Full HD (1920 x 1080p), in addition to a richer colour palette. Sony Picture Entertainment remastered “Breaking Bad” in 4K from the original film negatives, as the award winning TV drama was shot on 35mm film.
Some early adopters of 4K technology, may not be able to take advantage of the new features as the decoder required to view Netflix 4K videos is not built into early 4K television sets. Most 4K TV’s purchased before 2014 lack the H.265/HEVC decoder required to stream Netflix’s ultra-HD service.
Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings has said that an average speed of 15.6 Mbps would be required to stream its 4K content.
More than 450,000 Ultra HD televisions are expected to ship in the U.S. in 2014. 4K gains more and more popularity in Google searches, as well. In May 2013 the word was searched 110,000 times. In May 2014 this figure almost doubled to reach around 210,000 monthly searches.
There are many reasons why 4K should make you rethink your next TV purchase.
Photographers, who routinely view their work on an HD TV, are seeing but a fraction of the detail inherent in their photographs at 720p or 1080p HD. When they view them at 2,160p, they can see a much wider details and colour depth.
A 4K display reveals so much more nuance and detail – the difference can be astonishing. While 3D has proved to be an odd diversion, 4K comes without major caveats. Its higher resolution images are simply better.
Nevertheless, content in 4K still is limited, but in time, more content will become available. Consumers who are concerned about a lack of native 4K content now can take comfort in knowing that TV manufacturers have put a lot of work into up-scaling technology to ensure that today’s HD content looks even better on 4K sets right now.
A new generation of Blu-ray players and media optical discs are coming inevitably as more content becomes available. Such 4K players will be able to play back native 4K content in all its glory. It is expected such media players to be perhaps around 18 months away.