Want 1080p playback on Netflix? Don't use Firefox or Chrome

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 12, 2016
Updated • Feb 12, 2018
Music and Video
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41

Netflix is without doubt a very popular service that allows you to watch TV shows and movies by streaming them to devices you are using.

The service is a lot cheaper than cable in most countries it is offered in, and since it is digital, enables you to pick what you want to watch.

The quality of the Netflix stream depends on several factors that include the bandwidth available on the customer's end, the player technology used to play back the video streams, and the web browser.

Especially the latter may come as a surprise to users of the service but the Help Center on Netflix's website indicates that this is indeed the case.

1080p playback on Netflix

The HTML5 Player may limit the quality of the stream while the Silverlight player does not. HD resolution streams are only available if the Internet connection supports at least 5 Megabits per second, but that is not the only restriction.

Only Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge on Windows, Safari on Mac OS X, and Chrome on Chrome OS support 1080p HTML5 player streams while Chrome, Firefox and Opera only stream up to 720p in quality.

You can check the quality of the stream with the shortcut Ctrl-Shift-Alt-S.

  • Bitrate ~ 2350 -- 1280x720
  • Bitrate ~ 3000 -- 1280x720
  • Bitrate ~ 4300 -- 1920x1080
  • Bitrate ~ 5800 -- 1920x1080

What you can do to resolve this

netflix bitrate

netflix 1080p edge

There are several things that you can try to resolve the issue. First, you want to make sure that you are subscribed to the right plan.

The basic plan does not support HD or Ultra HD, and if that's your plan, it explains why you cannot stream in HD quality.

You can also verify the quality that you are getting by using the shortcut Ctrl-Shift-Alt-S while a stream is playing using the HTML5 Player.

A menu pops up listing all video and audio bitrates supported by the player. If you see 3000 as the maximum, you are only getting 720p at the most.

Some videos are not available in HD or Ultra HD, which means that you won't be able to play them in better quality even if you met all requirements. I suggest you try several movies or shows, for instance Netflix originals to make sure that is not the limiting factor in your case.

While you could switch browsers if you are using Mac or Windows devices, to watch in 1080p, you could also consider using one of the native applications that Netflix offers.

These apps, usually, offer HD streaming while web browsers may not. This is for instance the case for gaming consoles, the native Windows application and many more applications that stream Netflix.

netflix hd playback

You may also want to check the playback settings in the account:

  1. Load https://www.netflix.com/YourAccount in your browser of choice.
  2. Select "Playback settings" under My Profile on the page that opens up.
  3. The default data user per screen value is set to auto. If your Internet connection supports the minimum bandwidth for HD, select High to enforce HD playback if supported.

Another thing that you can do is check the Netflix speed index to make sure your Internet Service Provider delivers the required bandwidth to watch streams in HD. This is especially important if you are using a native application or a system browser on Windows or Mac as they should deliver 1080p if the video is provided in the quality and the Internet connection supports the bandwidth needed to stream in HD.

Update: A Chrome and Firefox add-on is available now which unlocks 1080p playback on Netflix in those browsers.

Summary
Want 1080p playback on Netflix? Don't use Firefox or Chrome
Article Name
Want 1080p playback on Netflix? Don't use Firefox or Chrome
Description
Find out what you can do to diagnose Netflix stream quality issues to make sure TV and movie content is streamed in HD.
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Publisher
Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Anonymous said on August 1, 2010 at 12:43 pm
    Reply

    Why not make use of the mplayer.conf?

  2. Mike J said on August 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm
    Reply

    Huh, I have never even seen this “font cache” pane; videos play at once for me, using VLC & XP SP3.

    1. Martin said on August 1, 2010 at 3:39 pm
      Reply

      Mike, in theory this should have only been displayed once to you, at the very first video that you played with VLC. The time this window is displayed depends largely on the number of fonts in your font directory.

      1. Mike J said on August 2, 2010 at 2:30 pm
        Reply

        huh, I lucked out for a change?? Amazing!!
        Apparently VLC keeps this info through version updates, but I didn’t see this message after a fresh OS install about 8 weeks ago, & a new VLC.

  3. myo said on August 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm
    Reply

    yes, yes, i have the same problem. sometimes, VLC crashes when it is playing .mov file.

  4. Kishore said on August 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm
    Reply

    Error:
    Buidling font Cache pop-up

    Solution:

    Open VLC player.

    On Menu Bar:

    Tools
    Preferences

    (at bottom – left side)
    Show settings — ALL

    Open: Video
    Click: Subtitles/OSD (This is now highlited, not opened)
    Text rendering module – change this to “Dummy font renderer function”

    Save
    Exit

    Re-open – done.
    Progam will no longer look outside self for fonts

    Source – WorthyTricks.co.cc

    1. Martin said on August 13, 2010 at 3:10 pm
      Reply

      Great tip, thanks a lot Kishore.

  5. javier said on August 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm
    Reply

    @Kishore, I’ll try your tips, but does this mean it will no longer show subtitles either?
    I do use subtitles, but the fontcache dialog box pops up (almost) everytime I play a file.

    Could this be related to the fonts I have installed? Or if I add/remove fonts to my system?

    I’ll try to do a fresh install also, if your tips does no work. I’ll post back here later…

    /thanks
    /j

  6. Kishore said on August 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm
    Reply

    @ Javier, The trick i posted will show up subtitles too. If not,

  7. Kishore said on August 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm
    Reply

    @ Javier, The trick i posted will show up subtitles too. If not,Dont worry, VLC is currently sorting out this issue and the next version will be out soon.

    No probs @ Martin !! Its my pleasure

  8. Ted said on October 22, 2010 at 3:57 am
    Reply

    Try running LC with administrator privileges. That seemed to fix it for me

  9. Evan said on December 8, 2013 at 1:48 am
    Reply

    I am using SMplayer 0.8.6 (64-bit) (Portable Edition) on Windows 7 x64. Even with the -nofontconfig parameter in place SMplayer still scans the fonts. Also, I have enabled normal subtitles and it is still scanning fonts before playing a video. Also, it does this every time the player opens a video after a system restart (only the fist video played).

  10. Mike Williams said on September 6, 2023 at 1:26 pm
    Reply

    Does that mean that only instrumental versions of songs will be available for non-paying users?

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