Media

Netflix to stream 4K ‘Ultra HD’ within two years (ISPs better light up some dark fiber)

Image Credit: If you thought Netflix was a data hog before, you ain't seen nothing yet.

After picking our jaws up off the floor, most of us probably laughed at the 4K TVs debuted at CES this past January. Like the 84″ take-out-a-second-mortgage L9300 Toshiba, they’re beautiful but useless gadgets, as there is currently almost no content shot in Ultra HD resolution.

That might be changing sooner than you think.

Today Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt told The Verge that Netflix expects to be streaming video at the massive 3,840-by-2,160 pixel 4K resolution in the fairly near future: this year or next. If you thought Netflix was a data hog before, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Now we know why Netflix recently unveiled its speed list of the 17 fastest Internet service providers in America.

“We have work to do with the compression and decode capability,” Hunt admitted, but he noted that Netflix’ own House of Cards was shot in 4K.

Assuming a massive amount of compression would need to take place in order to be able to stream 4K video reliably and quickly, the question becomes: What kind of hardware will be necessary to run full-res Netflix in the near future? Smart TVs, and appliances like Xboxes, Wiis, and Apple TVs might need very significant upgrades to have the kind of onboard power to run real-time decompression for that much video. Not to mention much more on-board storage, even if just for buffering.

One other thing Hunt wants to see from video producers? A higher frame rate.

Hunt says we’ve now pretty much maxed out the resolution of our eyes but that 60 frames/second would make for a much better video experience than the current 24 or 30.

photo credit: pkingDesign via photopin cc