Netflix has announced two major boosts to the quality of its high definition online streaming service, but the real news was over at the Samsung booth at CES, where the company was offering a sneak peek at a future 4K resolution streaming service.
While casual viewers have been conditioned to think that all HD video is pretty much the same, videophiles know that the amount of data compression used can take a serious bite out of your picture quality. Netflix's Super HD promises a picture that's "even better than HD" whatever that means, even though it's still 1080p. Presumably, the Super HD service will use less/better compression to bring you an an "incredibly clear, smooth 1080p picture," with the bonus of making certain titles available in 3D.
There is a bit of a catch: your ISP will have to take part in Netflix's Open Connect service, which at the moment rules out lots of popular providers. To check if your ISP can deliver Super HD. see here.
Stepping things up a notch, over in a dark corner of the Samsung booth, a 65-inch UHD TV was showing a repeating loop of 4K Ultra HD video streamed from Netflix's servers. The staff were keeping tight lipped about this so-called beta test, with no potential release date to tease us with.
Of course at this point pretty much nobody has a display capable of showing this material, so right now we're locked in a chicken-and-egg limbo, waiting for the hardware or the content to arrive. With Netflix already chomping up a big chunk of online bandwidth, I expect the world's ISPs are not exactly looking forward to this development.