Netflix’s Super HD, the highest quality video offered by the service at 1080p resolution, is now available for all subscribers. But that doesn’t mean all customers will be able to view the high quality streams. First off, you’ll need to have streaming speed of at least 7 Mbps, which is a higher bitrate than the 5Mbps required for HD titles (movies in 720p or 1080i). And, only certain devices will support 1080p such as the latest generation of Apple TV, Nintendo Wii U, Roku 3 and new Roku 1 & 2 models, and TiVo Premiere DVR, to name a few. Of course, Blu-ray Disc players, PlayStation 3, and most Smart TVs support 1080p video.
Not all titles are available in Super HD either. When searching through the Netflix library you’ll see Super HD indicated next to the title name. Video usually doesn’t automatically start in 1080p, as the stream needs time to buffer. If you’ve got a PlayStation 3 you can actually see the quality jump from 480p, to 720p, to 1080p by touching the Select button on the PS3 controller. The button displays video information in the upper left corner such as .
Users don’t have much control over the quality of video, although you can still set preferences in your user profile. The software utilizes “adaptive streaming” that adjusts video quality to amount of available bandwidth.
Super HD was previously only available to customers subscribed to ISPs who belonged to Netflix Open Connect, an option to get video from a dedicated network of servers rather than congested shared networks. Last week, in fact, SoCal provider Bel Air Internet announced their membership to Open Connect, and thus the option to stream higher quality video to customers in their Los Angeles market.
Netflix still offers Open Connect, and encourages ISPs to adopt the dedicated video content delivery network. According to the company, “members who subscribe to an ISP with a direct Netflix connection will get the best experience.”