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

waya

New Member
The simplest answer -- and this is part of what's so frustrating about the SB2 -- is that I haven't yet come across a notebook since buying the SB2 that has NOT supported HDCP 2.2 via its USB-C (if they supported display) or Thunderbolt 3 ports. I can remember one (an inexpensive one, can't remember which) that did not support it out of its HDMI port (which was HDMI 1.4, I believe). Most notebooks with HDMI ports today seem to have HDMI 2.0.

tl;dr: I've reviewed quite a few notebooks since December 2017, and since I've been checking for HDCP 2.2 support, only a couple did not support it. But every single premium ($1,000+) notebook I've reviewed other than a Surface Book 2 has supported Netflix at 4K on external displays.
This really is a shame. I’ve checked all the other “premium” windows laptops and none of them have the solid looks of the SB2. Sigh. I may just have to buy it as it is then. It’s either that or another MacBook Pro that dual boots to Windows.

I assume I can at least watch 4K YouTube on an external monitor though?
 
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wynand32

wynand32

Well-Known Member
This really is a shame. I’ve checked all the other “premium” windows laptops and none of them have the solid looks of the SB2. Sigh. I may just have to buy it as it is then. It’s either that or another MacBook Pro that dual boots to Windows.

I assume I can at least watch 4K YouTube on an external monitor though?
Yes, it will play any 4K content that's not copy-protected.
 
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wynand32

wynand32

Well-Known Member
Sorry, "one more thing", with what you know, would you take the Razer Stealth over the SB2 given the chance? Or would you stay with the SB2?
Quite honestly, with all of the other problems I'm having with the SB2 (battery discharge when plugged in, whenever I use the GTX 1060 on "Best performance," mouse/keyboard lag on battery power that still hasn't been resolved after so many months, the tablet disconnect problem that still happens, etc.), I would return mine for a refund if humanly possible and never look back.

The Razer Stealth wouldn't be my replacement option, though. I'd likely go with something like the Dell XPS 15 even though it's not a 2-in-1, or maybe an HP Spectre x360 15 Vega if I decided the 2-in-1 format was really important to me.
 

David Francis

New Member
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.
This is a great discussion thread as I've found many people posting similar problems with 4K and HDR support in other forums. I know your topic is referencing 4K to external monitors, however, in this reply you stated that the SB2's internal display plays Netflix at 1440p and it supports windows 10 HDR. However, I'm not able to get my to play either content. I've verified the codecs, verified HDR is enabled, SB2 windows updates are current and I've downloaded the latest drivers from Nvidia. The tech at the Microsoft store and the tech on the phone was unable to get it going even after replacing my SB2 with a brand new one (was less than 14 days old). Any help is appreciated. Thank you!
 
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wynand32

wynand32

Well-Known Member
This is a great discussion thread as I've found many people posting similar problems with 4K and HDR support in other forums. I know your topic is referencing 4K to external monitors, however, in this reply you stated that the SB2's internal display plays Netflix at 1440p and it supports windows 10 HDR. However, I'm not able to get my to play either content. I've verified the codecs, verified HDR is enabled, SB2 windows updates are current and I've downloaded the latest drivers from Nvidia. The tech at the Microsoft store and the tech on the phone was unable to get it going even after replacing my SB2 with a brand new one (was less than 14 days old). Any help is appreciated. Thank you!
I'll go ahead and copy here what I posted on Reddit. First, is yours a 15" or a 13.5"? I've only tested all of this on the 15" model and can't verify what works with the other model:

Okay, so, one of my pet peeves with the Surface Book 2 is the lack of HDCP 2.2 support for external wired displays (i.e., no Netflix 4K support). So, I was pretty excited to see that Microsoft has improved premium content support on the internal display -- it will now scale up higher than 1080p and it supports the Windows 10 faux-HDR support.

But, it's actually more complicated than that. There's apparently a choice between 1440p and HDR support, and 2160p without HDR support. And yes, I know: the SB2 15" display isn't actually 4K, being just 3,240 x 2,160 and not 3,840 x 2,160.

Here's the trick: Go to Settings > Apps > Video playback. If you're on A/C or battery, then toggle off "Stream HDR video." If you're on battery, then you can also keep that toggled on and then under Battery Options check "Don't increase display brightness when watching HDR video on battery."

If you turn off the HDR streaming support, then you'll find that 4K Netflix content will stream at the full 4K bitrate (obviously there's some kind of scaling being done). You can check this by hitting Ctrl-Alt-Shift-D while the video is playing. Note that the Netflix app (or maybe the Edge player, but I haven't tried it) will say that the video supports HD and not 4K UHD, which is accurate but not precise -- the display really doesn't support native 4K UHD but it does support higher than just HD.

If you turn/keep HDR streaming support on, then you'll find that 4K/HDR Netflix content is limited to 1440p, in both bitrate and in what Ctrl-Alt-Shift-D defines as the current resolution. And, the Netflix app will indicate that HDR is supported (which is what it will say when content is both 4K UHD and HDR).

tl;dr: The SB2 15" (maybe also the 13.5") supports higher than 1080p Netflix video and faux-HDR, but you gotta play with the settings. And sorry for the title typo (the "wh" shouldn't be there).
 

David Francis

New Member
I'll go ahead and copy here what I posted on Reddit. First, is yours a 15" or a 13.5"? I've only tested all of this on the 15" model and can't verify what works with the other model:

Okay, so, one of my pet peeves with the Surface Book 2 is the lack of HDCP 2.2 support for external wired displays (i.e., no Netflix 4K support). So, I was pretty excited to see that Microsoft has improved premium content support on the internal display -- it will now scale up higher than 1080p and it supports the Windows 10 faux-HDR support.

But, it's actually more complicated than that. There's apparently a choice between 1440p and HDR support, and 2160p without HDR support. And yes, I know: the SB2 15" display isn't actually 4K, being just 3,240 x 2,160 and not 3,840 x 2,160.

Here's the trick: Go to Settings > Apps > Video playback. If you're on A/C or battery, then toggle off "Stream HDR video." If you're on battery, then you can also keep that toggled on and then under Battery Options check "Don't increase display brightness when watching HDR video on battery."

If you turn off the HDR streaming support, then you'll find that 4K Netflix content will stream at the full 4K bitrate (obviously there's some kind of scaling being done). You can check this by hitting Ctrl-Alt-Shift-D while the video is playing. Note that the Netflix app (or maybe the Edge player, but I haven't tried it) will say that the video supports HD and not 4K UHD, which is accurate but not precise -- the display really doesn't support native 4K UHD but it does support higher than just HD.

If you turn/keep HDR streaming support on, then you'll find that 4K/HDR Netflix content is limited to 1440p, in both bitrate and in what Ctrl-Alt-Shift-D defines as the current resolution. And, the Netflix app will indicate that HDR is supported (which is what it will say when content is both 4K UHD and HDR).

tl;dr: The SB2 15" (maybe also the 13.5") supports higher than 1080p Netflix video and faux-HDR, but you gotta play with the settings. And sorry for the title typo (the "wh" shouldn't be there).
Thank you for the reply. I appreciate the effort. I tried toggling hdr off as you suggested and I see no change. The Microsoft techs were unable to duplicate your results after replacing my deve either. None of their devices in the store would do this.

I've seen people with both the 13" and the 15" posting in similar threads that they could play HDR content @ 1440p. However, I'm not seeing that result. I'm seeing SD content @ 1080P regardless of which settings I've tried.
 
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