It turns out Microsoft’s browsers are the only ones to allow full HD Netflix streams on your PC – the others squeeze your net tubes down to only let a 720p flow through.
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You know that Edge browser which popped up when you installed Windows 10? The one you only used the once to download Chrome, Opera or Firefox? Yeah, that one. Apparently it’s actually pretty good.
We’ve heard a lot about stripped-back APIs from the graphics perspective recently, what with Microsoft’s own DirectX 12 and the recently released Vulkan, and the Big M’s Edge browser has been built in a similar barebones way.
But while it’s meant to be a little leaner – Microsoft has made bold claims about battery usage compared with Chrome on laptops – it has historically been slower than its competitors. Microsoft have been working hard to build Edge’s reputation back up again though and their latest strategy has been to publicise Netflix’s system requirements.
On the PC Netflix supports all the main browsers, but only up to 720p on Chrome, Firefox and Opera. It’s only Microsoft’s IE and Edge which are capable of hitting the full-HD 1080p stream. We’ve run some tests ourselves – at least that’s the excuse I’ve been giving for watching Narcos in the office – and the limits are plain to see in Chrome, while Edge gives you the full high def. experience.
So if you’ve spent the cash on a HD sub for Netflix you actually haven’t been getting the top quality stream you’ve paid the money for if you’ve not been using a Microsoft browser on your PC.
While being able to hit a full 1080p stream is great, it’s still a source of frustration that when even the cheapest Chinese 4K TV will likely be able to nail a 4K Netflix stream, no matter how much cash you’ve thrown at your PC you can’t stream at the Ultra HD resolution.
We’re still waiting for the copy protection protocols to be enforced on the PC for 4K playback before the big guns like Netflix and Amazon will allow their precious content to fill our Ultra HD monitrons. It’s always bloody DRM holding things back, isn’t it?