Netflix gets in on the 4K game with House of Cards S2 in Ultra HD

Netflix gets in on the 4K game with House of Cards S2 in Ultra HD
Kevin Spacey in Ultra HD: ok then

Netflix is going to start streaming some shows in 4K next year, as it confirms that House of Cards season 2 will be the first of its Ultra HD streams.

House of Cards is set to hit Netflix in February 2014 but the 4K streams will only work with certain next-gen smart TVs, however, set to be unveiled at CES 2014.

Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt told Stuff, "We're not naming specific manufacturers but we have several of the major TV vendors who are going to be producing 4K-capable TVs - they'll be announcing them at CES.

"Right now we're talking about 4K Netflix built into the smart TV."

Pipe stream

That means no 4K streaming through your tablets, phones, laptops or games consoles - at least, for now.

Hunt explained, "The new game consoles may eventually be 4K-capable but the ability to take 4K out of the box and drop it into a separate television is lacking some standards and HDMI 2.0. It's just a little premature."

Ultra HD resolution is going to need even more broadband juice than Netflix's current HD service, which may leave some understandably concerned that rather than beautiful 4K movies, they'll be watching a juddery pixelated mess.

"We're pushing forward with new encoding technology," Hunt said. "We'll be using H.265, which is colloquially known as HEVC, instead of AVC H.264.

"We think with that we're going to be delivering in the 10-16Mbps range - about 15Mbps is probably what we should think of."

Cool story, Netflix. But what does it all mean? It's all about compressing the super high resolution video stream so it's less laborious to get it from Netflix's servers to your TV.

The good news is that you should see some boost to your Netflix streams even if you don't shell out thousands for one of the new 4K TVs next year.

News Editor (UK)

Former UK News Editor for TechRadar, it was a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she was constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. Kate now enjoys life as a renowned music critic – her words can be found in the i Paper, Guardian, GQ, Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and she's also the author of 'Amy Winehouse', a biography of the soul star.