Surface Book 2 15" and Netflix 4K video on external monitor

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Book' started by wynand32, Apr 21, 2018.

  1. wynand32

    wynand32 Well-Known Member

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    This popped up in the external display thread, but I wanted to promote it on its own. Here's the situation:

    I recently bought a Dell Ultrasharp U2718Q 27" monitor at Costco, great deal at $380. I'm using it connected to my SB2 15" using Microsoft's Surface USB-C to HDMI adapter. It connects at 60Hz, so that's fine. However, I was using it to watch Netflix (using Edge) and noticed that it wasn't using the bandwidth I expected for 4K streams.

    So, I discovered a command that can be used to check a Netflix stream's bitrate and resolution. You just hit Ctrl-Shift-Alt-D when the Netflix window is in the forefront and you get a bunch of information, including the current bitrate and resolution. Hit Ctrl-Shift-Alt-S and you can see and adjust the CDN used for the stream and override the current bitstream.

    Here's the problem: the SB2 15" doesn't play 4K Netflix video in spite of all the necessary pieces being in place. I plugged the same USB-C to HDMI adapter, cable, and monitor into an Acer Switch 7 that I'm currently reviewing and it plays the same test videos at 4K. The only difference is that the Acer's USB-C supports Thunderbolt 3.

    I'm certain that the SB2 15"'s USB-C port should drive a 4K Netflix stream. And apparently, as jnjroach confirmed in the other thread, using the Surface Dock doesn't make a difference. This is very disappointing to me.

    If anyone else has a 4K display and has the required Netflix plan, could you test yours and see if you're having any better luck?
     
  2. wynand32

    wynand32 Well-Known Member

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    Thought I'd circle back on this one... The reason why the SB2 can't play Netflix at 4K (or any premium copy-protected content) is simple: the SB2 only supports HDCP 1.4 to external wired displays. HDCP 2.2 is required for premium copy-protected content.
     
  3. jnjroach

    jnjroach Administrator Staff Member

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    Not 100% correct, the Surface Book 2 is HDCP 2.2 Compliant with the correct setup, the official USB-C to HDMI 2.0 Adapter is HDCP 2.2 (Buy Surface USB-C to HDMI Adapter - Microsoft) compliant as long as the 4K TV is compliant as well, my cheap Element 40" 4K TV (bought at Target 2 Black Fridays ago for $199) isn't 2.2 compliant, but my Vizio 40' 4K is...

    I see that your "I hate my Surface Book 2" article is getting traction, it would be good if you corrected the part of the SB 2 not being compliant with the 2.2 HDCP Standard.
     
  4. wynand32

    wynand32 Well-Known Member

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    Actually, you're wrong. The Surface Book 2 only supports HDCP 1.4 to wired external displays. That's the entire point of (that part of) my piece. You can tell if Netflix is playing 4k by hitting CTL-SHIFT-ALT-D with the Netflix window in the foreground -- do that, and you'll see that it's limited to 1080p on your TV.

    Just a note: as I indicated in my original post here, I was testing with my Dell Ultrasharp 4K HDR display that supports Netflix at 4K on every other notebook I've tested. And I was using the Microsoft Surface USB-C to HDMI Adapter. That's why I was so shocked to learn that the Surface Book 2 itself is limited to HDCP 1.4 to wired displays.

    Read my piece again, it's accurate.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  5. jnjroach

    jnjroach Administrator Staff Member

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    I hear you that you were unable to run it...it requires all pieces in the chain to support, and Netflix requires sustained 25Mbps downstream connection. The HDCP comes from the GPU which is the Intel UHD 620 which is compliant with the standard.
     
  6. wynand32

    wynand32 Well-Known Member

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    I'm standing by my editorial, and I fully understand what's required for premium copy-protected content via HDCP 2.2.

    How about this: plug your Surface Book 2 into your compliant TV, play Netflix on Edge via the USB-C port, and send me a video of the screen showing 4K streaming via the CTL-SHIFT-ALT-D command. If I can get confirmation that I'm incorrect here, then I'll be gratified and will update my editorial accordingly.

    And I don't mean to be pedantic, but you do realize that I verified that the Microsoft Surface USB-C to HDMI Adapter + HDMI cable + Dell Ultrasharp 4K HDR display + my internet connection were able to play Netflix in 4K on two other notebooks, but not on the Surface Book 2. I literally unplugged from the SB2, plugged into either of the other notebooks, and Netflix played in 4K verified by the bitrate command. But not on the SB2.
     
  7. LanceM

    LanceM New Member

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    From what I read at this thread, all components need to be 2.2 for Netflix 4K. If the TV is 2.0a, it won't do 4K.

    Netflix 4K issue
     
  8. wynand32

    wynand32 Well-Known Member

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    This is all a bit confused... To play premium copy-protected content at 4K (such as Netflix), everything needs to be HDCP 2.2 compliant (not HDCP 1.4). HDMI 2.0(a) is required to support HDCP 2.2. So, a TV that supports HDMI 2.0(a) and HDCP 2.2 will play Netflix @ 4K with a supported player.

    That's irrelevant to the situation I've discussed here, though, which regards a monitor (not a TV) that's HDCP 2.2 compliant and plays Netflix at 4K with other notebooks than the Surface Book 2.
     
  9. ikjadoon

    ikjadoon New Member

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    Thank you very much for this information, wynand32. Not sure why others here were confused or going off on tangents.

    If other notebooks can push HDCP 2.2 on external wired displays, and the SB2 cannot, it's a SB2 issue. This is technical support 101?

    I was quite eager to purchase the SB2 (why hasn't anyone else taken 3:2 displays seriously still in 2018?), but this glaring omission is making me hold off.

    Is this fixable via firmware? But it's nearly a year old, so can't really hold your breath on that.
     
  10. wynand32

    wynand32 Well-Known Member

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    My understanding is that the SB2 simply does not support HDCP 2.2 for external wired displays. It's not fixable via firmware because that functionality simply isn't built in (hardware is required to decrypt the HDCP 2.2 copy protection, as I understand things, and that doesn't exist for external wired displays). I'll also note that Microsoft has not contacted me to correct my editorial -- if I were simply wrong, then I'd think they'd have let me know by now. I'm adding these caveats not because I think I'm wrong, but just because in this industry, one never knows.

    To be thorough, though, I just tried the setup again and nothing has changed.

    Now, with that said, I did learn something interesting just the other day. One of the recent firmware updates did improve how the SB2 can play Netflix on the internal display, which does support HDCP 2.2. Previously, the internal display was also limited to Netflix at 1080p, and it did not support Windows 10's pseudo-HDR that increases the brightness and tries to emulate HDR on non-true HDR displays.

    Currently, however, the SB2's internal display plays Netflix at 1440p, and it supports Windows 10 HDR. That is, brightness is ramped up to 100% when HDR content is played and there's some HDR-like effect on bright and dark scenes.

    That's both good and bad news. To the good, it shows that Microsoft is making improvements and they're finally supporting the full capabilities of the internal display. The display isn't 4K, but 1440p is a marked improvement if you're a pixel-peeper. Whether the HDR support is a good or a bad thing is a matter of preference, since it's not true HDR.

    It also implies, though, that IF there were some firmware limitation for external displays and not a hardware limitation, then they would have fixed that as well. And so that's just more evidence for me that I'm correct -- the SB2 does not and never will support HDCP 2.2 to wired external displays.
     

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