Even after last year’s Netflix price-hike disaster, more and more people are jumping on the streaming movie train. In the month of June, 2012, the company streamed more than one billion hours of video, showing that 2011’s problems are quickly fading and the service has bounced back. But Netflix streaming is a game-changer, and people are downloading movies and TV shows in droves.
Netflix streaming now boasts over 23 million users (and potentially you too), which has reportedly taking up almost one-third of United States’ bandwidth traffic. Who wouldn’t want unlimited commercial-free movies and TV shows for only $7.99 a month? That’s what I thought. With every amazing deal, there are always a few bumps along the road to get the quality you want. Maybe your movies take 10 minutes to load or freeze every 5 seconds to re-buffer. That definitely ruins an otherwise great setup.
With a few quick, simple checks you can make sure you have the best Netflix streaming experience.
Choose The Right Interface
If you’re still window shopping for a Netflix device for your home there are a couple of things to consider. Whether you’re on a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Roku, laptop, or smart phone, the user experience will be much different depending on the device. Some interfaces are ridiculously hard to maneuver (TiVo) while others offer a very user-friendly, pleasant experience, such as Apple TV or a Roku box.
Pictured above is the brand new Apple TV Netflix interface. Not only is the updated program extremely easy to use, but it also lets you sign up for Netflix directly through your iTunes account and watch movies in 1080p with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Apple TV is one of the best devices to own for video streaming, but if you already have a streaming device, chances are you can do a few things to enhance its performance.
Configure Your Router
The status of your Internet connection is one of the main things that affects your streaming experience. Netflix recommends having at least 5 mbps (megabits per second) of Internet service as a general speed guidance to give you the best viewing experience. In fact, they send their 720p HD content at 3.6 mbps but you need extra speed to make sure things work, adding up to the general recommendation of 5 mpbs.
Checking your Internet connection speed is simple, just go to the Digital Landing Internet Speed Test and run a test on your connection. Make sure nothing else is running on your home network while performing this test. This includes Netflix or any other tabs on your Internet browser. If you finish the test and your speed is under 5 mbps you should contact your service provider, there might be something else going on with your network!
If your service provider doesn’t help get things going, it might be time to start considering another option for your ISP.
Examine Your WiFi Connection
Many things can go wrong with WiFi. There are a few simple things you can check to make sure you’re getting the strongest WiFi connection available for your streaming experience. A lot of things can interfere with wireless connections such as a running microwave, cordless house phones, baby monitors, and security cameras. All of these devices usually work on the same frequency as your wireless Internet.
If these electronics in your home are causing interference with your Internet, but you do not want to shut them off, try bringing your wireless router closer to your Netflix device to make sure you get a stronger signal. Make sure there’s not too much stuff in between your router and your streaming device. For example, anything physically blocking the two devices, even the walls in your home, can degrade the WiFi signal.
Adjust Netflix Streaming Quality Settings To Save Bandwidth
Netflix uses a method called “smooth streaming” for its video service. This means when something is going wrong with the wireless network in your house, Netflix scales the picture quality down to adapt to the connection speed. Sometimes you may not even notice this beyond the short pause your show takes to re-buffer. Other times you may notice pixels and/or a blurred picture as a result of losing connection speed. To prevent this, don’t download big files, stream radio, or run programs behind the video player while using Netflix. Even automatic backup programs can affect your streaming rate if your computer is backing up big files.
Another way to prevent slowing is to adjust the video quality on your account. If you have a slower internet connection this is your best option unless you want your movie freezing every five minutes. It’s also a good idea to change these settings if you’re watching Netflix from your mobile phone or tablet because the high data usage can easily go over whatever you have allotted on your cell phone plan.
When All Else Fails … Go Wired
If none of those suggestions work and you feel like you’re still not getting an ideal Netflix streaming experience, your best and easiest choice is to grab an Ethernet cable and plug your Netflix device directly into your router (most devices have an ethernet port on the back of them).
The pros of this option: You will then have a dedicated connection with no wireless interference possibilities at all. The cons: You have a big ugly cable running through your house. This one’s up to you.
When your Internet is up to par, it’s time to engulf yourself in the complete Netflix streaming experience. Stream HD movies flawlessly on your TV — just look for the ‘HD’ symbol while scrolling through your Netflix choices, or go on the website and find the HD group to see which movies are available to stream in high def.
Finally, I recommend using InstantWatcher.com. This website tells you exactly what movies are new to Netflix recently and lets you know which movies will be expiring soon so you can watch them before they’re gone. Happy Streaming!