Q. I love to watch Netflix on the Internet and I think the streaming thing is the best thing ever. But I am not always happy with the picture. It’s good usually, but not always like cable is. Is there a little trick I can do to make the picture good all the time? — Jen, town withheld.
Jen, Netflix normally does a very good job of providing a reliable and consistent picture on its subscription Video on Demand service, as does Hulu, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime and many others. (Live streaming from services such as AT&T TV Now is another matter, and I will comment on that in a future article.)
But watching video streamed on the Internet is not like watching it on a cable or satellite TV service, or via a TV antenna. It’s more prone to picture interruptions because the Internet itself is more prone to technical glitches, either on your end or on the company server that is delivering the video.
But there are some things you can do to prevent frequent ‘bufferings.’ In fact, Netflix’s web site support page offers these three steps:
1. Powercycle your network
What does that mean? Turn off your streaming device (Smart TV, Blu-ray player, Roku, Apple TV, etc.) and unplug your router and modem for 20-30 seconds. Plug in your modem and let it fully power up, and then turn your streaming device back on.
Sometimes, your streaming device, or modem, is causing the picture interruptions because it’s performing slowly because it has yet to complete previous tasks. For example, if you hit the fast-forward button, then the rewind button, and then the pause button, etc., sometimes the device will become effectively clogged with tasks, much like a kitchen sink with too much in the disposal. A simple reset of the entire system can erase the task list and allow your device and/or modem to operate normally.
2. Improve your signal strength
Walls and other electronic devices in your home, or other wireless networks in your immediate area, could be interfering with your router’s wireless signal. Try moving your router to a new location to improve the signal strength.
If that doesn’t help, change the wireless channel your router uses. And if that doesn’t work, plug your device directly into the router with an Ethernet cord, which offers the best connection. You would be surprised at how much faster your streaming device will run if you plug the modem directly into the device. WiFi systems can slow due to multiple users on at the same time or other issues.
3. Make sure the streaming service works where you are.
If you are on a work, school, public WiFi, cellular or satellite network, check with your network administrator or Internet Service Provider to make sure streaming services such as Netflix are supported. Even in a coffee shop, it’s possible that Netflix will be blocked for any number of reasons.
If streaming is supported, your router manual, network administrator or service provider is the best resource for troubleshooting possible issues.
One last idea: If are having trouble with a particular show, try another show to see if the issue persists. If it isn’t, then go back to the original show. That might do the trick.
Jen, hope that helps. Happy viewing!
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You can”t expect great picture quality from streaming HD video, off the internet, as from other sources such as Blu-Ray, or even OTA channels. Why! the low data rate usually about 3.5 Megabits Per Second that Streamers use is not capable of giving great HD video when you consider that Blu-Ray discs uses a Data-Rate of around 25 to 35 Mega-Bits Per Second using the same H264 Codec that Streamers use.
Most ISPs should be able to accommodate the required data rate depending on your level of service as well as your viewing device set-up should be able to easily handle the required bandwidth. It does not appear that streamers will ever raise there data rate to provide a great HD experience. You just have to live with it.