Why can’t I stream Netflix in HD (High Definition)? If you are on the Netflix basic plan, you will only have access to Standard Definition (SD) viewing. Netflix offers three streaming plans. The plan you choose will determine how many people can stream series and movies from Netflix at the same time, as well as the streaming quality.
The Basic Plan lets one person stream series and movies from Netflix, in Standard definition (SD). The Standard Plan lets two people stream series and movies from Netflix, in High definition (HD) when available.
The Premium plan lets up to four people stream series and movies from Netflix, in High definition (HD) when available. Additionally, select titles will be available in Ultra HD 4K to those who are using new HD compatible devices.
You can change your plan at any time. To do so, visit netflix.com/changeplan. No matter what plan you choose, you will have unlimited access to all the TV shows and movies available on Netflix. And you can watch them on any Netflix ready device. Plus, you can install the Netflix app on as many devices as you want.
Related: How Do I Change My Netflix Plan
What is the Difference between Standard Definition (SD) and High Definition (HD) Viewing?
The Standard Definition (SD) video resolution is classified as 480p or 480i. The High Definition (HD) is 720p, 1080i, or 1080p. And Ultra HD 4K is 4096p. Your choice of video resolution will greatly influence the quality of your viewing experience, especially on larger format screens.
What Is Video Resolution?
The video resolution is based on how many pixels it takes to make up one frame of the video. A pixel is the smallest measuring unit of a picture. The more pixels in a frame, the clearer the image will be.
What Do The Numbers Mean?
Resolution is determined by the height of an image. Working on a 16:9 aspect ratio, a 1080 resolution picture is 1080 pixels high, and 1920 pixels wide. So that means that in total the image has 2,073,600 pixels
What Do the “I” And “P” Mean?
The “I” stands for “interlaced” and the “p” for “progressive scan”. Interlacing is a video viewing trick. Your eye thinks you’re seeing the full image in motion, but you are in actual fact only viewing every other line of the image. Your eyes will fill in the gaps automatically. This is a video streaming technique used to double the perceived video frame rate, without taking up extra bandwidth.
Progressive scan draws each line in sequential order, one at a time. A single frame is “painted” every 1/60th of a second. This means that twice the detail can be sent in the same time as an interlaced system. The image is more detailed and you’ll notice less flickering, a common flaw of interlaced scanning.
SD is the standard quality resolution. Often it refers to 480 pixel height in an image. A single frame has more detail than a 144p, 240p, or 360p image. But less detail than a 720p or 1080p frame. You don’t want to drop below 480 for video streaming.
In the late 20th century it became the standard for most broadcast television, as well as DVD’s. The 480p is the common standard for digital video.
Streaming in Standard Definition (SD)
On the internet, a lot of uploaded videos and video streams are limited to the 480p standard definition format. But with the advancement in technology, the 480 resolution will soon be phased out by higher quality formats. You will need to ensure that your equipment is upgraded to handle the higher resolution streaming.
HD (high definition) is a higher definition resolution. The pixel height is 720 or 1080 pixels. Each frame is displayed with more detail than the standard definition resolution. 720p is the bottom range of the resolution type. It’s often called “standard HD” or “HD ready”.
720p is the usual resolution used on the internet. Most modems will have 720p capabilities. The 720i isn’t a HD media standard in the industry, because of a lack of demand for it.
The 1080i and 1080p resolutions are called Full HD. These offer higher quality standards for HD streaming. Most television broadcasters prefer the 1080i format. 1080p is a more progressive format for video streaming content on internet platforms such as Netflix and YouTube.
When To Stream In High-Definition: SD vs HD vs 4K
The other HD resolution option, is Ultra HD 4K. It still refers to the pixel height, but rounds it up (or down) a little bit. Ultra HD 4K is usually either 3840 x 2160 pixels or 4096 x 2160 pixels. The second format is usually for big cinema screens.
4K is the latest craze in video resolution. The technology is still very new, on Netflix for example not all shows are available in this format yet. For now you can consider switching to the normal HD resolution for a higher viewing quality. But by 2024, an estimated 50% of American households will have 4K-enabled televisions.
If you are viewing video streaming content on a smaller screen, you can consider sticking to the SD resolution. But once you’ve compared the quality difference between SD and HD, you won’t easily switch back to SD.