Netflix has officially inaugurated the 4K era of TV entertainment with an Ultra HD upgrade to its flagship drama series, House of Cards.
Many of Netflix’s home-grown shows are now filmed in 4K, but House of Cards season two is the first to get a release on the UK version of the streaming video service.
With Sky still testing the water for Ultra HD and the Blu-ray folk fumbling over 4K discs, Netflix has stolen a march with compatible players in 2014 Sony, Samsung, LG, and Vizio TVs.
Netflix told Recombu Digital: “Initially we have a small set of titles, specifically House of Cards season 2 and several Moving Art nature documentaries. We will expand the available titles over time.”
Trials of 4K streaming at Netflix began in October 2013, and CEO Reed Hastings has promised to bring a 4K remaster of Breaking Bad to the service. Amazon Studios is also producing its new content in 4K for Amazon Prime Instant Video.
The Netflix 4K stream will be a challenge for anyone without some kind of fibre in their broadband supply, since it requires a steady 15Mbps compared to 7Mbps for Netflix’s best Super HD stream.
Veteran AV journalist Steve May tipped off the nation’s handful of 4K TV owners, tweeting: “Watching House of Cards S2 in 4K on Netflix. WHOAH I mean seriously WHOAH. Freakin’ unbelievable. Full HD is ruined for me…”
At 3,840 pixels wide by 2,160 pixels deep, 4K is the first Ultra High Definition video format, with four times the definition of the Full HD found on today’s 1920×1080 HD TV channels.
It’s a stepping stone on the way to the Holy Grail of 2D TV – Super Hi Vision or 8K Ultra HD – which doubles the pixel count to a level above the resolution of the human eye.
Pixel pedants HDTVtest logged in a Samsung 4K set and declared: “There’s no denying that House of Cards S2 in 4K Ultra HD was by far and away the best-looking title we’ve seen among Netflix’s catalogue of movies and television series, making the company’s previous highest-quality [Super HD] streams seem blurry in comparison.”