This past week Netflix announced that it will begin offering 4K video streaming on PC to those that have subscribed to it.
Firstly, it’s about time. Second. What the heck, Netflix.
Along with the announcement Netflix stated that they will be only supporting 4K streaming on Windows using the Edge browser. AND on the latest Intel Kaby Lake processors. Heck, those aren’t even out in the mainstream yet.
Microsoft is taking advantage of this to plug it’s Edge browser which is no surprise. But why are we locked in to these requirements? Let’s dive in.
Let’s tackle Edge first. Everyone I have talked to cannot stand using the Edge browser. I certainly can’t. To be fair it’s a huge step up from the last Internet Explorer but it’s not Chrome, Firefox or Opera (the first and last of the mentioned I use all the time). The reason we are stuck with Edge is Netflix has went with Microsoft’s proprietary PlayFair DRM to protect it’s content. Only Microsoft’s Edge browser supports this and since it’s proprietary (which by the way it kinda has to be) you will never see this on any other browser.
OK so we understand the DRM but what about this crazy processor requirement? 4K streaming from Netflix requires 10-bit HEVC native decoding and any processor previous to the Kaby Lake platform from Intel only supports 8-bit HEVC decoding.
But, Jeff you say, I just built a home theatre PC based on a i7-6700 or A10-7890k. What about me? You’re outta luck my friend. 4K Netflix is not for you. At least on PC.
How do we get around this then? Well the only way I see getting around this is using a device like a Chromcast or maybe a 4K compatible Roku or some such device. But that doesn’t allow you to watch on PC.
It saddens me to see Netflix, a company that has huge consumer goodwill, to do something like this and hopefully they can come up with a better solution going forward. At least at the moment all you will be missing is the new Gilmore Girls.