The normal thing is that when we view content from streaming platforms on a desktop operating system, we do it from a browser. In that sense, Netflix is the only platform that meets the honorable exception of having a dedicated native application, although unfortunately, Reed Hastings’ company has only released it on Windows 10.
Therefore, although a priori it could be thought that with all the options we will obtain the same viewing quality and playback performance, it is convenient know which browser is best for each streaming platform depending on the operating system we use. Let’s see how to get the maximum resolution on Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video and Movistar +.
7 TRICKS to get the most out of NETFLIX
Netflix: Microsoft Edge and Safari in the lead
Netflix is the most popular streaming platform with the most subscribers worldwide and yet that it does not work for you to guarantee a similar image quality in all browsers.
In Windows, to enjoy Netflix at its best, you have two options. Use Microsoft Edge or Windows 10 app, which will provide 4K quality in the series and movies that are in the catalog at that resolution. Of course, for this you must have a machine with a minimum seventh generation Intel processor.
If you have a Mac and want Play 4K on, for example, a 5K iMac, not possible on macOS, but also not on Windows with Boot Camp, due to a Netflix DRM limitation with the AMD graphics card driver.
Although Netflix is the only platform that provides 4K on the desktop, only Edge on Windows allows you to display content in the highest quality
Going down from 4K, the only other option that allows you to stream Netflix in 1080p on Windows is to use Internet Explorer. Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Vivaldi and other options based on Chromium have to settle for playing in, maximum, 720p resolution.
In macOS the thing is similar. As we said, 4K playback is not possible, and 1080p content can only be played in Safari (Mac OS X 10.10.3 or later), like its built-in counterpart in Windows. The rest of the options will only reach, at most, video in 720p resolution, although according to our tests, they are even lower, at 960 x 540 pixels.
There are extensions in both Firefox and Chrome that some time ago allowed to force playback in 1080p, but according to the tests we have carried out, they do not work in 2020. It was said that with Microsoft Edge it would be possible to achieve 4K in macOS, but for now, this option is not activated.
HBO: unified quality with great news for browsers
HBO has a unified video quality on all platforms and browsers, allowing you to play 1080p content (although the image quality is noticeably inferior to Netflix and Amazon). Of course, not in all browsers it moves with the same ease, which makes Depending on the choice we make, it can mean a great battery saving in laptops.
The best news about HBO is that it has finally scrapped the use of Flash
On Windows, CPU usage has been similar on Edge, Firefox, and Chrome under our tests, but on macOS, Safari has much lower CPU uses than Chrome and Firefox. It helps in all cases that, without announcing it, HBO finally no longer works under Adobe Flash, which was one of the great cons of the platform, but the homogeneity in resources of the different browsers could be greater.
What’s more, according to HBO, if you have a Mac and want to connect it to an external display to play content, you must use Safari. They don’t explain why, but it may be due to increased DRM and HDCP support.
Amazon Prime Video: 1080p quality in all browsers
Something similar to what we have seen on HBO happens on Amazon Prime Video. According to the web, all the major browsers are capable of playing HD content in 1080p, but none will do so in 4K.
Amazon supports 4K and HDR on Smart TV, but in browsers we will have to settle for a good 1080p
On Windows, Microsoft Edge takes the cake when it comes to efficient CPU usage, according to the figures provided by the Task Manager. After the integrated browser, Firefox and Chrome remain at averages of use that reach three times the use of CPU resources, without installed extensions.
On macOS, Safari also typically shows a lower CPU usage percentage when playing video than its more direct competitors.: Chrome and Firefox. Of course, Mozilla’s browser shows higher numbers that will affect multitasking and autonomy more.
Movistar + is the most limited
Of all the large streaming platforms present in Spain, Movistar + is the only one not compatible with some very important browsers, so beyond quality, there is not much room for action by the user.
On Windows, Movistar + works with Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome, but for the latter you will need to install an extension, something that the rest of the services do not demand. Firefox, as it is not compatible with Silverlight, no longer works with Movistar +.
In macOS the situation is similar, but even worse, because the standard browser, Safari, is no longer supported, so you will have to settle, exclusively, with using Google Chrome, which again here requires the installation of its extension.