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Netflix: How to Improve Your Picture

Q. I now watch streaming video from Netflix with my Roku player, picking up the Internet signal from my wireless home network (WiFi). But I notice that sometimes the signal is a little sketchy. It breaks up a bit and buffers. Any ideas on how to stop this for good? Would it make a difference if I connected my Internet cable directly into the Roku player — Diane, Newark, New Jersey.

The wireless home network is a great way to use the Internet in more than one place in the house. But the strength of the original signal will decline if you use a wireless network. That’s a fact.

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That’s not to say that the wireless network won’t deliver a consistent and top-quality picture. If you are subscribing to a high-speed Internet service, the wireless signal should still be strong enough to produce an equally strong streaming picture.

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But if you notice the streaming picture has frequent hiccups, you might want to try connecting your Internet cable directly into your Roku, or whatever device you’re using to stream to your television. (Note: You can also do this with your computer.)

You can do that by running an Ethernet cable from your Internet modem to the streaming device, in this case, the Roku.

(Note: This advice applies to watching any video streaming, not just Netflix.)

So, how can you tell if the signal is stronger with the direct Ethernet connection? Most
streaming devices have a feature that allows you to test the speed of your Internet connection.

Go to the player’s Menu and look for a Internet Speed Test feature. Try it a few times with the wireless connection and then a few times with the direct, Ethernet connection. The higher the number, the faster the signal.

If there’s a dramatic difference in speed between the two, the direct connection may be the way to go, particularly if you notice that your Netflix picture seems more consistent. I won’t guarantee that it will end buffering for good, but the faster speed will certainly keep those annoying interruptions at a minimum.

Final note: Netflix recommends that your Internet speed may be a minimum of 5 Mbps for high-def quality and 25 Mbps for 4K programming.

Happy Viewing!

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— Phillip Swann

About TV Answer Man (1425 Articles)
The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than two decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television.

2 Comments on Netflix: How to Improve Your Picture

  1. It may be inconvenient to direct connect if there is not Ethernet connection near the TV.
    You can get a powerline Ethernet adapter from someone like TP-Link which uses your house electrical wiring for wired Ethernet. You get two in the kit, one plugs into an outlet near the router then connects to the router with short cable, the other plugs in wherever you need it.
    Works great.

  2. Do NOT use extension cords with powerline ethernet adapter.

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