Mac computers won’t be watching Netflix in 4K this fall?

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macOS Big Sur is the 17th and next major release of macOS, Apple’s operating system for its computers. It is the successor to macOS Catalina and was announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on June 22, 2020, with a release date for the end of this year.

And with a novelty -among its many- for fans of the visual: being able to watch Netflix content in 4K thanks to an update of the Safari browser, and in HDR Dolby Vision on compatible devices. But not everyone will be able to enjoy it.

Netflix 4K with T2 chip on macOS

And it is that, right now you can only watch Netflix on a system with macOS, either portable or desktop at FullHD, 1080p. You can’t see 4K, because it is ‘capped’, something that will change with Apple’s next big update for its computers. But it will change if you have an Apple laptop or computer that is at most a couple of years old on the market.

Does that mean that if my Macbook or iMac is from before 2018, I won’t be able to watch 4K Netflix or HDR content? Yes, as is, because it is not only the update of the Safari browser that will bring 4K to macOS natively, but an element of ‘hardware’ as well: the T2 security chip that Apple systems mount in the last two years , capable of encrypting storage and managing operating system security.

The key is that the T2 chip might be able to better handle 4K content because it acts as a co-processor. The T2 chip has built-in video processing management including support for the popular HEVC codec, according to a marketing slide from Apple’s October 2018 event.

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On the official website for the latest iMac, Apple says that the T2 chip “makes HEVC video transcoding up to twice as fast as the previous generation.” You can’t be sure if Netflix uses HEVC for these high-res streams, but if it does, maybe the T2 chip is key for Netflix 4K. And these are the Apple laptop and desktop models that mount the T2:

  • iMac (2020)
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac Pro (2019)
  • Mac mini (2018)
  • MacBook Air (2018 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (2018 or later)

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