Posted on 04/24/2014
Earlier this month, Netflix announced that it would stream some of its video content, with more to come, in 4k (Ultra HD).
(See the Christian Science Monitor’s take on this, as an example of recent press coverage.)
Higher resolution picture delivery, of course, means that more bandwidth will be required for smooth streaming of video. Netflix is saying that in order for customers to smoothly watch the 4k videos, they will need a service with an average speed of 20 Mbps. Keep in mind that this will be for a single device. More bandwidth would be required for running multiple devices at the same time.
Currently, Netflix lists the required (average) download speeds for their services as:
These requirements will be similar for other services like Hulu and Amazon Prime.
However, each will have its own method of management. By default many services are set to an “auto” leveling setting that allows the service to push down the highest quality video it thinks your connection can support.
Netflix (go to https://help.netflix.com/en/
Hulu, on the other hand, requires you to make this change in the individual video that you are watching; the problem here is some devices and apps lack the ability to make this change. Amazon Prime is fully automatic and does not allow you to adjust your video settings at all.
Customers that have existing hardware (such as Roku, PlayStation4, games consoles, Chromebox, PCs, Apple TV, smart TVs) that supports the current levels of streaming video may also see similar issues depending on the unique circumstances of their connection. Obviously, the speed of your actual internet connection that will have an effect on video playback. Other factors like service traffic volume, number of devices on your network using the connection, a wired vs. wireless connection in your home and the overall condition of the equipment that you are using can affect your experience. On devices that use an app to access these services, be aware that different apps may perform differently, thus effecting playback and video quality (and at times access), regardless of your connection speed. The same can be said for accessing these sites through web browsers, as the condition of the browser and its integrated software components like Flash and Silverlight can cause problems with playback as well.
At this point you are more than likely asking yourself: is it even worth trying to use these streaming services if there are so many problems? The answer can definitely be YES!, provided that you follow these tips and practices to optimize your playback performance:
By following these tips you will find that your video streaming experience should be greatly improved.