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Netflix: Why Does the Picture Keep Changing?

Q. I have Netflix and it drives me crazy that the picture is different all the time. Sometimes the picture looks great and sometimes it looks blurry. Why is this?! Am I seeing things or is this a common thing? — Ronnie, Plano, Texas.

Ronnie, you are not seeing things, so to speak. Due to countless factors, your TV’s picture quality may vary regardless of which streaming service you are watching, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu or whatever.

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Why?

The picture can go from crystal-clear to average to downright blurry in a just a matter of seconds, depending upon the strength of your Internet connection, or the service’s server and delivery system.

For example, you could be watching Narcos, the superb drama about Mexican drug cartels on Netflix, and the high-def picture (or 4K picture; Narcos is available in 4K)) will look fantastic.

But then suddenly the picture will lose some detail and clarity, perhaps looking like something you might see on an old VHS tape. And then a few seconds later, it will revert back to a high-quality picture.

If this happens to you, it’s quite possible that your Internet signal strength experienced a slight dip during the change. This can happen with any Internet plan, which is why you want to subscribe to a plan that offers a very high speed, such as 100 Mbps or better. With a high-speed plan, you will be less likely to notice a decrease in signal strength because, even with the dip, the signal will be strong enough to deliver a solid picture.

Ronnie, if you think your Netflix picture lacks consistency, and your Internet signal may be the cause, you can test your speed at various web sites, including SpeedTest.net. If the test indicates your Internet speed is lower than what your Internet Service Provider says it should be, give them a call.

Finally, it’s also possible that your streaming service is to blame. It may be experiencing some technical snafu that is causing your picture to buffer, or lose crispness. This happens from time to time, but usually doesn’t last long. If it does — and you eliminated your home Internet service as the cause — contact your streaming service to see if it’s having issues.

Hope that helps, Ronnie. Happy viewing.

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Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at swann@tvpredictions.com. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.

— Phillip Swann
@swanniontv

About TV Answer Man (1379 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.

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