Streaming: One Step to Fixing a Blurry Picture

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Q. I have Netflix and sometimes the show will start off very blurry. But then it will get clear after a minute or so. But it sometimes goes back to the blurry picture. Any guesses on why this happens and what I can do to fix it? Does this happen to other people? — Shanteuse, Virginia Beach, Virginia. 

Shanteuse, you’re not seeing things, so to speak. With Netflix, and all streaming services,  the picture quality can vary depending upon the strength of your Internet connection, or the service’s server and delivery system.

For example, you could click on the new miniseries, Hollywood (pictured above), on Netflix and the high-def or 4K picture will look a little muddy at first, as if the show is in standard-definition. Then, after a few moments, the image will suddenly clear up as if someone waved a magic wand. But perhaps a few minutes after that, it will become blurry again for a few seconds.

This is not uncommon, and usually signifies that your Internet signal is weak and/or is operating at a reduced speed. Netflix recommends that your Internet speed be 25 Mbps for a 4K program, and 5 Mbps for a high-def show. If it dips below that, it will cause the picture to vary in quality. Good one minute, bad the next. (Most streaming services have similar recommendations for optimum Internet speeds.)

If you think this is a regular problem, you can test your Internet signal at various web sites, including SpeedTest.net. If the test indicates your Internet speed is lower than what Netflix recommends, you might want to upgrade service.

Of course, 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.

Shanteuse, hope that helps, Happy viewing, and stay safe!

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