Q. I get a good picture on Netflix most of the time, but sometimes, the picture quality will go from perfectly clear to a little blurry and then back to perfectly clear. My daughter says our Internet speed isn’t fast enough to keep the picture good all the time. Also, we watch both 4K and HD in case you need to know that…Do you know how to check our speed for Netflix? — Andrea, Madison, Wisconsin.
Andrea, you have a common concern. Some Netflix streamers report that their picture looks just dandy most of the time, but then all of a sudden, the picture quality seems to diminish a bit. The 4K picture will fall to HD or the high-def picture will fall to standard-def quality. The decline in quality usually doesn’t last very long, but when it does, it can be quite annoying.
There’s a obvious reason for this problem. Your Internet service’s speed varies and sometimes it will dip below the minimum requirement for a high-def or 4K picture.
(Netflix says you need a minimum speed of 5 Megabits (Mbps) to watch high-def and 15 Megabits to watch 4K programming.)
When this occurs, Netflix may post an on-screen message asking if you want to change the HD setting to SD, or the 4K setting to HD. I would not advise doing this very often. You are paying for HD and/or 4K and you want to watch your show or movie with the best picture quality possible.
If the picture quality falls off for a relatively long period of time, I would suggest re-starting the program to see if that will improve the speed.
And when I say, re-start, I mean just begin the show from the point where you stopped watching. You can do this by hitting Stop and then returning to the Menu and hit the Resume button. This will take you back to the scene you were watching so you don’t have to start from the beginning.
(You may also want to read my story on how to dramatically reduce Netflix buffering.)
Now to your specific question, there are two things you can do to check the speed and resolution of your Netflix picture. First, you can go to Fast.com and do a test of your ISP’s speed. (Fast.com is Netflix’s own web-based speed test.)
Besides the online speed test, there’s another way to check your Netflix streaming speed and it’s located right in your Netflix app. If you go to Netflix’s ‘Get Help’ section, there’s a feature called, ‘Check Your Network.’ Click on it and Netflix will measure your connection speed and the reliability of your connection to Netflix’s servers. If you don’t see Get Help, click Settings and then Check Your Network.
Andrea, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann