With this holiday season shoppers may be looking to upgrade their HD TVs to 4k “Ultra HD” sets that display over 4-times the resolution of Full HD (1080p) TVs. For those who want to start streaming 4k movies and television shows from Netflix, here’s what you need to know to start streaming 4k content for the first time.
Sufficient Broadband Internet
Since there are no discs that support 4k content yet (the Blu-ray Disc association has approved the Ultra HD Blu-ray, but manufacturers are still working on the hardware), the only way to watch 4k is through the internet (unless you purchase the Samsung 4k Video Pack or Sony 4k Media Player with pre-loaded movies). Netflix suggests a minimum of 25 megabits-per-second to stream Ultra HD. You’ll need to call your internet service provider and ask for faster speed, and quite possibly a modem upgrade. Be prepared to pay more per month!
4k ‘Ultra HD’ TV
This of course, is a no-brainer. You can’t watch 4k content on a 1080p TV. But let’s make sure everyone understands the terminology. 4k (a term that came from the movie industry) is slightly higher resolution than the other industry terms used (Ultra HD and UHD), but is essentially the same when talking about consumer electronics. So, any TV that says 4k, Ultra HD, or UHD is the same thing. Samsung’s own branding that uses SUHD is also the same, but uses more advanced technology and supports HDR.
Adjust 4k TV Settings
When you purchase your 4k TV for the first time, you may need to set the resolution to 4k. By default, it should be. But this is something you should confirm. 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.
A 4k Set-top Box or App
The 4k content needs to travel through either a set-top box or app 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). And, there are quite a few 4k Smart TV and Blu-ray Disc player manufacturers that support 4k through the Netflix app including Sony, Samsung, LG, and Sharp among others.
HDMI 2.0 Cable
You’ll need an HDMI 2.0 cable that is made for 4k content. The bandwidth demand for 4k is much higher than 720p or 1080p, so you’ll need to invest in a new HDMI cable. Also, the older HDMI 1.4 standard only supports 30fps, whereas HDMI 2.0 supports 60fps. Best Buy has a high quality Rocketfish 4ft 4k HDMI cable for $29.99.
4k-Enabled Netflix Account
Lastly, you’ll need to upgrade your Netflix account (if it isn’t already) to the $11.99 per month plan. As mentioned before, the bandwidth for 4k is much higher than 1080p. So not only do you have to pay your ISP more, you also have to pay Netflix a bit more. (See screenshot below.)