Just in time for the Consumer Electronics Show, YouTube announced its plan to stream videos in the ultra high-definition 4K format, which is almost four times sharper than standard 1080p. We now have our first look at 4K through the trailer for season two of Netflix‘s House of Cards.
The trailer was released in 4K in compliance with Netflix’s own adoption of the format. All of season two of the award-winning political thriller will be available in 4K thanks to the HEVC codec. Meanwhile, YouTube’s own 4K service is enabled through Google’s homegrown VP9 codec, which the company claims will improve load times on basic HD videos.
Here’s the trailer, featuring Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Kate Mara, and the rest of the House of Cards cast at their sharpest (in more ways than one):
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On my computer, 4K exhibited some noticeable issues. Playback was noticeably choppy and was unable to play more than a few seconds at a time without jumping. Buffering was indeed quick, but seemed to be very erratic; the stream seemed to de-buffer and re-buffer quite often. On a slower Internet connection, I could see that becoming a problem.
On the other hand, 4K looks incredible. You can see the creases in Kevin Spacey’s tie, the definition in individual raindrops, and the light reflections in each actor’s eyes. It’s a video format that will ultimately take over from HD video, but it’s not quite there yet. The technical issues could have been endemic to my computer, but they seem as if they will be widespread–at least for now.