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Flagship Panasonic UHD TV can't stream Netflix in 4K

Tom Morgan
9 Jun 2014
Panasonic AX800
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Panasonic's AX800 Ultra High Definition TV might have a huge number of pixels, but owners won't be able to use them to watch Netflix in 4K - the set doesn't support it

Panasonic's flagship AX800 Ultra High Definition TV has begun to appear in AV stores up and down the country, but early adopters won't be able to enjoy House of Cards or Breaking Bad in 4K as the set doesn't support Netflix streaming at UHD resolutions.

Like UHD TVs from Sony, LG and Samsung, which should also now be on sale in the UK ready for the World Cup kick-off next week, Panasonic's AX800 includes a High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) decoder chip for decoding 4K content. However, due to an unforeseen issue in the configuration of Panasonic's chip, it is the only 2014 UHD TV with Netflix not to include 4K support.

According to Techradar, Panasonic's marketing director Simon Parkinson confirmed that Netflix 4K wasn't supported on the AX800 - and never would be. "It's unfortunate, but we won't be able to offer Netflix 4K on this particular model." It can't be certified for 4K due to an issue with the built-in HEVC decoder chip.

That doesn't mean the AX800 isn't capable of playing 4K video at all - the HEVC chip should still be able to decode 4K content played from a local source such as a USB flash drive or Panasonic's own GH4 camera. However, getting hold of that content is much harder than having a fast broadband connection and pressing play from within Netflix.

Panasonic is almost certainly going to fix this issue for its 2015 TV range, with TV product manager Craig Cunningham telling Techradar that the incoming X900 Series models will support Netflix 4K. Even so, it's possible that 4K Blu-ray discs will have arrived next year and customers will have more than one way to watch Ultra hi-def video on their 4K TVs.

If the lack of 4K Netflix on the AX800 is a deal-breaker, you may want to wait until September - Panasonic is set to officially reveal the AX900 at the IFA tech show in Berlin.

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