Streaming movies and TV shows is a great alternative to cable. Why pay for hundreds of channels you never watch, when you can pick and choose the services and programs you like most? But while video streaming is good, it often requires a bit of tech know-how to work optimally. Here are some handy tips.
Get Up to Speed
Video demands a lot of bandwidth, so a slow Internet connection won’t cut it. Streaming high-definition programs requires a 5 Mbps (megabits per second) or faster connection, according to Netflix. Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime, two other popular streaming services, recommend a minimum of 3 Mbps or 3.5 Mbps for HD, respectively. To stream 4K or Ultra HD video — four times the resolution of good ol’ HD — you’ll want at least a 25 Mbps connection. If your broadband is too slow, chances are you’ll experience a lot of buffering; the video feed keeps pausing, waiting for more bits to download. The moral? Bargain “broadband” plans are often too poky for video streaming, so be sure to read the fine print when you sign up with an Internet service provider (ISP).
Test Your Internet Connection
So you have plenty of bandwidth for HD video — say, 15 Mbps — but buffering is still a problem? You might not be getting the speed your ISP promised. An easy way to find out is to run broadband speed tests. Visit Speedtest.net and click the Begin Test button to see how fast your download and upload speeds really are. Do they match or surpass the bandwidth you’re paying for? If not, let your ISP know.