Tested: Microsoft Edge is the only browser to run Netflix in 4K

Tested: Microsoft Edge is the only browser to run Netflix in 4K

In 2016, Microsoft made headlines by boasting that Microsoft Edge was the only major browser to run Netflix in 1080p. As part of the Windows 10 Creators Update’s blitz of new features, Edge has now made the jump to 4K, and it’s the first major PC browser to do so.

To test the feature, we fired up Netflix within Chrome, Opera, Firefox, and Edge. Edge—as well as the Windows 10 Netflix app that you can download from the Microsoft Store—appears to be the only way to run 4K Netflix content on your PC.

Still, there’s a catch: Besides the fact that you’ll need either an external 4K monitor or native laptop display, your PC or laptop will need to have an Intel Kaby Lake CPU. Fortunately, we have such a laptop: the lovely HP Spectre x360 15, with a Core i7-7500U chip inside and a true 3840x2160 display.

netflix 4k in edge edit Windows 10 Creators Update IDG / Mark Hachman

Using the diagnostic tools within Netflix, we can see that Edge is streaming in 4K. (Unfortunately, it seems that DRM or other technical limitations block screenshots, so we used a camera instead.) Click the picture to zoom in.

When properly configured, Netflix will fill that display with some truly beautiful pixels. Just make sure you’ve upgraded your Netflix account to a plan capable of 4K, which costs $11.99 per month instead of the usual $8.99/mo. You’ll also need a high-speed data plan from your ISP—if you enlarge the graphics accompanying this story, you’ll see that Netflix was pushing a whopping 269Mbps of video data in our test. That’s about the limit of Comcast’s Extreme 250 internet plan, which costs around $70 per month in the San Francisco Bay Area.

And if you choose not to run Edge? Well, then it’s back to a lowly 720p experience for you, sorry to say. In our tests, using the hidden menu options within Netflix, I was able to confirm that Chrome, Opera, and Firefox all rendered Netflix, but only at a maximum resolution of 1280x720. 

opera in 720p in Netflix IDG / Mark Hachman

Though Netflix is still feeding the browser 4K levels of throughput, Opera, Chrome, and Firefox are only able to output Netflix at 720p.

Edge skeptics should note, however, that Microsoft’s browser has continued to improve. I’ve personally gone from being critical of Edge to now seeing it as a competent-to-good browser. (See more about my Edge assessment in our Windows 10 Creators Update review.) Fortunately, you don’t have to do a single thing to get Microsoft Edge—if you own Windows 10, you automatically own the browser.

Why this matters: Microsoft has worked hard to convince users that Edge’s early performance problems were an anomaly. Microsoft Rewards will “pay” you for using Edge, Cortana’s baked right in to the browser, and Edge now supports e-reading EPUB books, too. Providing 4K Netflix support is just the latest way Microsoft hopes to convince you to switch browsers. Sure, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera have their own advantages. But these sorts of “exclusives” probably help Edge’s reputation the most.

IDG Insider

PREVIOUS ARTICLE

«Windows 10 Creators Update FAQ: Everything you need to know

NEXT ARTICLE

How to buy and read ebooks in Edge as part of the Windows 10 Creators Update»
author_image
IDG Connect

IDG Connect tackles the tech stories that matter to you

Add Your Comment

Recommended for You

kathryn-cave

Blockchain For Dummies: What you really need to know

Kathryn Cave looks at the big trends in global tech

martin-veitch-thumbnail

What we know and don’t know about digital transformation

Martin Veitch's inside track on today’s tech trends

silhouette

Four hot IT growth areas to guarantee a big salary bump

IDG Connect tackles the tech stories that matter to you

Most Recent Comments

Our Case Studies

IDG Connect delivers full creative solutions to meet all your demand generatlon needs. These cover the full scope of options, from customized content and lead delivery through to fully integrated campaigns.

images

Our Marketing Research

Our in-house analyst and editorial team create a range of insights for the global marketing community. These look at IT buying preferences, the latest soclal media trends and other zeitgeist topics.

images

Poll

Should companies have Bitcoins on hand in preparation for a Ransomware attack?