TV Answer Man, I like HBO Max and it seems like it has the best shows and movies. But my picture sometimes buffers or freezes. Any suggestions on how to fix that? — Jeannie, Galveston, Texas.
Jeannie, every streaming service may encounter occasional issues with buffering and picture freezing, including HBO Max. But here are seven tips from HBO Max to keep it from happening too often:
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. (It’s 25 Mbps for 4K programming.) 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 if 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.
6. Try a Wired Connection
If you notice the streaming picture still has frequent hiccups, you might want to try connecting your Internet cable directly into whatever device you’re using to stream to your television. (Note: You can also do this with your computer.) You can do that by running an Ethernet cable from your Internet modem to the streaming device.
So, how can you tell if the signal is stronger with the direct Ethernet connection? Most streaming devices have a feature that allows you to test the speed of your Internet connection.
Go to the player’s Menu and look for a Internet Speed Test feature. Try it a few times with the wireless connection and then a few times with the direct, Ethernet connection. The higher the number, the faster the signal.
If there’s a dramatic difference in speed between the two, the direct connection may be the way to go, particularly if you notice that your HBO Max picture seems more consistent. I won’t guarantee that it will end buffering for good, but the faster speed will certainly keep those annoying interruptions at a minimum.
7. Tell Everyone to Log Off
If other people in your home are using the same network, ask them to temporarily pause their activity. This will allocate as much bandwidth as possible for streaming HBO Max.
Jeannie, hope these tips help. Happy viewing and stay safe!
By the way, here is the list of titles that HBO Max plans to add later this month:
Mortal Kombat, 2021
The Last of Us, Season Finale Premiere (HBO)
Beach Cottage Chronicles, Season 2
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Documentary Premiere (HBO)
Only You: The Animated Shorts Collections, 2023
Succession, Season 4 Premiere (HBO)
Those Who Wish Me Dead
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