The quality of the Netflix stream depends on quite a few elements that include not only the bandwidth available on the customer’s end and the player technology used to play back the video streams but also the type of web browser you are using as well. Clearly stated in Netflix help website that both Google Chrome and Firefox are only able to stream up to 720p in quality if your internet connection supports 5 Mbps or more.
To further approve if that’s the case, open and stream a show from Netflix on Chrome, press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S while the show is playing. A dialog box pops up with all supported video and audio bitrates info all showing up, like below:
As you can see, it only has the video bitrate up to 3000 kbps, which translates to merely over 20 MB per minute, a typical HD 720p quality indeed. Not sure why but it’s quite surprising.
So, which browsers out there that support 1080p stream rate? Other than Safari from Apple, both Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge are on the list as well. Another big surprise. As you can see the screenshot below which plays the same show from Netflix on Microsoft Edge, it supports all the way up to 5800 kbps, enough to smoothly stream a 1080p movie/show.
Other than switching browsers to enjoy a true 1080p show, you can also consider using one of the native apps that Netflix offers, such as game consoles, native windows apps, etc.