Q. I’ve been having trouble streaming HBO Max lately. The picture freezes or sputters a bit. Any tips on how to fix that? Also, when are they going to add 4K? — Ben, Reston, Virginia.
Ben, let me take your second question first. HBO Max, an expanded online version of the regular HBO channel, launched on May 27 with promises that 4K was coming soon. However, more than two months later, it’s still not available and there’s no update from AT&T, which owns HBO Max, on when it will be available.
The TV Answer Man is closely monitoring this situation and will report back here if and when we get more information.
Now, for question one. What should you do if your HBO Max has a consistent problem with buffering?
The streaming service offers several tips at its web site, and here they are:
1. Update the App
Online programmers frequently issue software upgrades so you want to be sure your app has the latest update. If you’re using an app that’s not been updated, it can trigger numerous performance issues. You can check if an update has been posted for HBO Max at the Play store on your Android device, or the iTunes store on your Apple device.
2. Get a Better Internet Service
Some cost-conscious consumers use their mobile Hotspots to stream video rather than pay for Internet service from a cable or telco company. However, a Hotspot’s speed can vary greatly depending on how much data you’ve used (companies reduce your speed if you exceed pre-set limits) or the number of people using the Hotspot. If your streaming picture consistently freezes or stutters, you might want to upgrade to a better Internet service. And if you already have a cable or telco Internet plan, you might need to upgrade to a faster one.
3. Test Your Internet Speed
Which brings us to step #3. HBO Max says you need a minimum download speed of 5 Mbps to get a consistent picture. That doesn’t mean your Internet plan delivers speeds up to 5 Mbps; it means that it averages 5 Mbps and above. You can test your service’s speed at numerous sites, such as Netflix’s Fast.com.
4. Restart Your Device
Whether it’s a mobile device, or a streaming set-top such as Roku, technology products sometimes stall based on data overloads or other issues. Try re-setting your device by turning it off and/or unplugging it for 30 seconds. Then, turn it back on and wait for it to reconnect to the Internet. A simple reset will often resolve any buffering issues.
5. Try Another Device
If the reset didn’t resolve the problem, try watching HBO Max on a different device in your household to see it it buffers as well. If it does, the problem is probably with your Internet, or HBO Max’s servers. If it doesn’t, the problem is probably with the first device.
Ben, hope these steps help. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
Pictured above: Wonder Woman, which is now available on HBO Max.
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— Phillip Swann