To date, the highest possible video quality you could get from Netflix on a PC was 1080p HD. That changes today if you have Windows 10, the Edge browser, and a PC with the most recent Intel processor.
Requires Intel Kaby Lake
Netflix has offered 4K streaming quality on TV devices such as UHD TVs, media streamers, and more recently game consoles for a few years now. The company also recently introduce HDR10 and Dolby Vision streaming quality.
However, PC users have been left out in the cold due to piracy concerns. It is simply too easy to capture a video stream on a PC with the right software.
That changes today, says Microsoft. The company’s Edge browser will be the first to support Netflix streaming in 4K resolution.
- “Your binge-watching favorites on Netflix are now available in 4K exclusively on compatible PCs and 2-in-1 devices, on Windows 10. Check out the new streaming experience with Microsoft Edge, the only browser that supports Netflix 4K content,” says Microsoft.
Besides the Edge browser you also need a PC with a 7th generation Intel Core processor (Kaby Lake). Chances are that you have an older Intel processor in your PC unless you have bought a new one in recent weeks.
HEVC decoding and DRM
The 7th generation Intel processors come with native HEVC decoding that Netflix is using for 4K, and have the proper DRM mechanisms to lock down video streams.
The news was announced by Microsoft and Netflix has not commented on whether other browsers will start supporting 4K streaming later, too. To enjoy Netflix’s 4K streams you also need the most costly Netflix subscription plan.
Netflix is not the only company who wants to take advantage of the stronger DRM protection in the new Intel processors. Sony recently announced that its ‘Ultra’ streaming service can be enjoyed in 4K on PCs starting in Q1 2017.
If you want a much cheaper solution look for a device such as Chromecast Ultra or Roku.