How To Watch 4k Ultra HD Movies & TV Shows on Netflix
Ready to start watching Ultra HD on your new 4k TV? Netflix has a bunch of original shows in 4k resolution such as Marco Polo (now in Season 2), the 8-episode sci-fi thriller Stranger Things, and the just-released series The Get Down. They’ve also got a limited number of movies in UHD. But watching Ultra HD isn’t as easy as turning on your new TV and connecting to Netflix. There are some settings that need to be set up first, and until you see the “Ultra HD” label showing up in your Netflix account you might not be there yet. Here’s what you need to know to start watching Ultra HD content on Netflix.
4k-Enabled Netflix Account
Once you’ve purchased a 4k TV you need to upgrade your Netflix account to the $11.99 per month plan. This enables four screens (separate viewers) to be watching at the same time and streaming in Ultra HD to a 3840 × 2160 resolution 4k TV. (See screenshot below.)
Sufficient Broadband Internet
Netflix suggests a minimum of 25 megabits-per-second to stream in Ultra HD quality, but even 15Mbps can be fast enough. If you’re not sure how fast your internet is use Netflix’s internet speed test website Fast.com, Comcast’s Xfinity Speed Test, or AT&T’s Internet Speed Test to be sure you’re getting enough download speed. If your internet is too slow, try restarting the modem to see if it helps. If you still don’t get enough speed you might have to call your ISP for an upgrade.
Adjust 4k TV Settings
When you get your 4k TV home for the first time you may need to set the resolution to Ultra HD. By default it should be, but make sure the display resolution says 3840 × 2160. You can also set the picture format to 16.9 for cinematic formats (or set it to dynamic if the settings allow). Also, for those purchasing new TVs, most use Bluetooth-enabled remote controls. If you can’t get your remote to work at first, be sure it is paired with the TV.
Adjust 4k Set-top Box
If you’re not using the Netflix app for Smart TVs, Ultra HD content may need to travel through either a set-top box or gaming console to display on the TV. Streaming media players that support 4k include Nvidia Shield, Roku 4, TiVo Bolt, and Amazon’s Fire TV (2015 model). The Xbox One S also supports 4k. Be sure to have the latest firmware upgrades to any 4k-supporting devices.
HDMI 2.0 Cable
The bandwidth demand for 4k is much higher than 720p or 1080p so you’ll need an HDMI 2.0 cable that is made for 4k content. The older HDMI 1.4 standard only supports 30fps, whereas HDMI 2.0 supports 60fps. Best Buy has got high-quality Audioquest cables starting at $29.99 for the Pearl-level 4-foot 4k HDMI cable.
Find Titles In Ultra HD
If everything is set up correctly your Netflix account should indicate Ultra HD titles using the label pictured below. You should also be able to scroll through a list of titles in Ultra HD as you would New Arrivals, Trending Now, and Recently Watched. Keep paging down through those categories if you don’t see Ultra HD right away. Otherwise, you can search for content using this list of all Netflix Ultra HD titles.
What about HDR?
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and is even trickier to get running than Ultra HD. The new color standard (defined by either HDR10 or Dolby Vision specifications), adds more color depth, contrast, and detail in dark and light areas. But not many 4k TVs are equipped to display HDR, and neither are most streaming media players at this point because the color spec requires HDMI 2.0a, a firmware upgrade to HDMI 2.0. Read more about HDR.
[Edited with revisions Aug. 21st.]