Will a 4K TV Upscale Netflix? Not Effectively, No

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Streaming 4k has become increasingly popular over the years, especially on Netflix.

When someone buys a 4k TV one of the first things they will do is go on some streaming service to see how good their display is.

Of course, if you do that you quickly realize that 4k content is not free on Netflix.

So can your 4K TV upscale Netflix without paying extra?

A 4k TV can upscale 1080p content to 4k on Netflix but you will likely not notice a difference.

If you want to watch True 4K on Netflix or any other streaming service you will need to pay extra. You don’t want to watch upscaled 1080p content anyway, you want native 4k with HDR.

Upscaled 4k looks like 1080p most of the time.

In this blog post, I will explain how you can upgrade your Netflix plan to 4k and how good streaming 4k is.

I will bring up alternatives to streaming 4k such as 4k Blu-ray that offer better picture quality and sound than Netflix. I was originally skeptical of this idea but it is absolutely real, the audio especially is significantly better on Blu-ray than streaming. To play Blu-ray you will need a player and some high-quality 4k discs.

How do I upgrade to 4K on Netflix?

The easiest way to upgrade is by going to Netflix.com/youraccount and scrolling down to plan details and clicking change plan.


Once you are there you will see the different plan options, pick the premium plan.

As you can see it’s $4 more a month but you get more perks than just 4k and HDR, you get more advanced audio formats and can use the plan on 6 devices or more.

How do I know if Netflix is playing in 4K?

For every movie or TV show you watch, Netflix will tell you what formats they are available in.

As you can see below for the Movie “The Old Guard” it is available in HD.

It could very well be available in 4k but I do not know as my sister (whose account I’m using for this example) does not have the 4k plan.

Regardless Netlfix should default the show or movie to the highest possible format that corresponds to your plan.


Can you tell the difference between 1080p and 4K Netflix?

Not really unless it’s 4k HDR, the difference between 1080p and 4k is very minimal, I can often tell the difference but the real perk of 4k is HDR and if you don’t have that then I don’t think it’s worth paying extra for if you are on a tight budget.

HDR will give you a wider color gamut, perfect blacks and bright whites.

It will look much closer to real life and display the colors we would see with our own eyes in the real world.

However, I’d recommend purchasing the 4k plan on Netflix if you stream a lot of movies as it’s only $4 more a month.

Personally, I don’t use it as I don’t have my own Netflix account and when I do choose to watch 4k I watch in on 4k Blu-ray.

I will go more in depth on why I do this later on in the article but suffice to say the quality is so much better in terms of both picture and sound.

The film that really made me realize this was Dune, which just sounds so much better on Blu-Ray than it does on any streaming service like Netflix

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Upscaled 4k isn’t noticeable

As mentioned before I can often tell when I’m watching a true 4k video or 1080p even without HDR.

HDR is a clear telltale as you’ll notice the image is much brighter than normal.

When you have a 4k video source and are watching 2160p you will notice a difference between that and upscaled 4k content (1080p video source upscaled to 4k).

Having your 4k tv upscale 1080p content to “4k” isn’t the way to go.

It’s not true 4k and if anything it’s a gimmick.

Streaming 4K can be a struggle


There is not that much 4k content available on streaming services like Netflix and the shows that are aren’t the best looking.

They are usually shot with 2k cameras and upscaled to 4k which has nowhere near the detail as shooting in native 4k or on 35mm film.

Also streaming struggles to show 4k unless you have very good internet speed and plenty of bandwidth.

There are often times significant banding and crushed black levels.

4K Blu-Ray is better


4K Blu Ray on the other hand can give you prestine 4k picture quality and lossless audio which you can’t get with streaming.

You also get better sound quality with 4k blu ray, which I’ve discussed in more detail on other post on my site.

If you have the latest PlayStation or Xbox then you will have a built-in Blu-ray player on the console.

If you don’t then you will need to buy a 4k Blu-ray player which can cost you a couple hundred dollars.

Some people might scoff at this but if you want to give your 4k TV the best workout possible and see the amazing benefits of 4k then 4k Blu-Ray is the way to go.

Personally, I have the Sony UBP X800m2 (paid link) which is a very solid 4k Blu-ray player that is compatible with enhanced HDR formats like Dolby Vision.

Downloading 4k movies from Kaleidiscape or watching them on Sony Bravia Core are great alternatives but they are prohibitively expensive and not widely available.

Although as time goes by these might be better options than Blu-Ray as the format is in decline, in fact, I wrote an article about the 4k Blu Ray format possibly dying if you want to check that out. Standard Blu-Ray is also in trouble.


A 4k TV can upscale Netflix content but it won’t look as good as a true 4k stream.

It won’t have HDR which is the biggest perk of 4k and it will look inferior to a true 4k stream resolution-wise.

If you are looking to utilize 4k while watching on streaming services then I’d recommend paying the extra $4 a month on Netflix for access to 4k and HDR content.

If you want the best possible 4k experience then 4k Blu-ray is the next logical route.

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