2014 is all set to become the year of 4K, judging by what’s happening at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Netflix has confirmed at CES 2014 that future Netflix Original programmes will all be filmed and edited in 4K, including House of Cards Season 2. Breaking Bad will also be remastered and made available to stream in Ultra HD too.
Never one to take the back seat in the ever-evolving technology world, 4K has been in the Netflix pipeline for months now, so CEO Reed Hastings was ready to make the most of CES.
LG announced in its press conference that its new range of Ultra HD TVs with its own webOS Smart TV platform will support content streaming in Ultra HD 4K from Netflix – the company has a whopping 12 new models lined up for this year.
“LG and Netflix have had a long-standing history of first-to-market introductions including the first network Blu-ray player to offer Netflix streaming back in 2008, which created the new category of Internet-connected consumer electronics devices,” said Dr. Skott Ahn, president and CTO, LG Electronics.
“Netflix 4K content delivered on our amazing Ultra HD screens through our new webOS Smart TV platform will change the way consumers enjoy television.”
And, sure enough, Reed was there to say a few words, while assuring that House of Cards would be available to watch in Ultra HD on LG TVs: “As the world’s leading Internet TV network, Netflix will be among the first to deliver Ultra HD 4K to consumers. Streaming will be the primary way consumers receive Ultra HD 4K and we are excited to be working with LG to make this a reality later this year.”
LG’s 2014 Ultra HD TVs are designed to include the latest standards for connectivity, content protection and program encoding, meaning they equipped to handle 4K streaming. Key to ensuring this capability is the built-in 4K HEVC 60p decoder. The LG TVs decode broadcast signals in both H.264 and HEVC H.265 formats, in either 30p or 60p.
“Content delivery has been the looming question with Ultra HD TVs ever since LG was the first to market with our 84-inch class TV in 2012,” said Sam Chang, LG Electronics USA senior vice president and head of the LG Silicon Valley Lab. “While our Tru-Ultra HD Engine provides excellent upscaled quality, the overall goal was always native 4K content delivery and Netflix was the perfect partner.”
The next day, Sony took the stage to talk about their own 4K devices, also confirming that they would be remastering Vince Gilligan’s award-winning series in Ultra HD.
And – you guessed it – Reed Hastings popped up again to say: “Working with Sony we’ve been able to go back, and I know many of you have already seen Vince Gilligan’s amazing Breaking Bad, but I’m sure you’re going to want to go back and re-watch it in 4K.”
Several 4K titles turned up on Netflix US services last year as a soft test, but there have been concerns over the UK’s ability to handle the absurdly detailed images using its less-than-stellar broadband network. Advanced HEVC H.256 compression should make Netflix 4K available connections of 15Mbps, Hastings said last year. At the time, the average British broadband speed was 14.7Mbps.
Hastings has since said a consistent speed of 15Mbps is required, although new services from Virgin Media and other providers should mean that households will have enough bandwidth to display House of Cards’ stunning timelapse opening credits in their full highly defined glory.
Of course, there’s still no release date for any of Netflix’s planned 4K titles – but you can bet Reed will find another microphone soon to jump behind and tell everyone about it.
With Amazon announcing that they will be filming their own Amazing Studios original drama and comedy shows in Ultra HD too, there seems little doubt: whether Blighty’s computers are ready or not, 2014 is all set to be the year of 4K.