Patty was excited about purchasing her new Blu-ray player at a local electronics store and connecting it to her Home Theater in Los Angeles. She felt fairly comfortable she could connect the Blu-ray player to her TV on her own as her A/V system was pretty simple. After fiddling around with her system for a couple of hours, she finally got a picture from her Blu-ray player. She found the Netflix app, setup it up and prepared for an evening of movie entertainment. She selected her first movie. About 7 minutes into the movie, it stopped and she saw a message that said “Buffering…” This continued for about 30 seconds and then the movie came back on. Patty didn’t think much of the error and continued watching. It happened again 11 minutes into the movie– and this time it lasted about a minute. On and on this buffering error went for about an hour until Patty became too frustrated to continue, pulled out the Blu-ray from her system and added returning it to her Saturday “to-do” list.
At Technospeak, we see this type of situation all the time. Unfortunately for Patty, her Blu-ray player was not the cause of her buffering problem. The problem was with her computer network.
Streaming videos, and streaming High-Definition videos in particular, requires A LOT of data to pass through your network. The vast majority of homes we encounter are not prepared for the bandwidth streaming videos requires and get buffering errors on their movies, dropped internet connections on their iPads and painfully slow internet surfing on their laptops. Here are few tips we would recommend for your Home Theater in Los Angeles to make sure your computer network is optimized for movie apps like Netflix, VUDU, Amazon prime, etc.
INCOMING NETWORK SPEED
If you have DSL, change your service. The maximum speed DSL will give you is 6MBps, which is barely fast enough for a reliable 1080p HD stream. And 6MBps is only if you are the optimum distance from a provider sub-station and all the telephone lines on the poles in your area between the sub-station and your home are in optimal condition. We recommend a minimum of 10MBps for a trouble-free movie streaming experience. Good alternatives to DSL would be the higher-end Cable Service packages or the Fiber service packages. You will never go wrong with purchasing faster speed than 10MBps– more speed is always better.
INTERNAL NETWORK DISTRIBUTION
If you paid less than $125 for your router, throw it away and get a new one. Additionally, replace all network switches in your home with Gigabit switches. They will always be the more expensive choice at your local electronics retailer if they carry multiple brands/models. The point here is that $30 router you picked up at Target does not have enough data distribution capacity to handle something as large as an HD movie. When these $30 routers can’t keep up, they drop bits of data. When data is dropped, no movie and “buffering…” is what you most typically see as a result.
Finally, make sure you hire a licensed low-voltage contractor to properly punch-down all your in-wall network jacks, or your customer length data cables. You won’t need them with pre-made patch cables you buy at the electronics store, but anything else will require a qualified contractor to terminate properly.
NETWORK HARDWARE SETUP
For any networked device that permanently resides in your home, it should have a static IP address with a wired connection. Leave the wireless network connections with an address assigned by DHCP to smart-phones, Tablets and other devices that will only temporarily be in your home. If you don’t follow these steps, your network will not be optimized for streaming movies. Remember, the speed of your network is only as fast as your slowest networked device, regardless of how that networked device is connected.
For Patty, we told her not to return her blu-ray player as nothing was wrong with it. We then explained to her that by following the steps we listed above, we could get her movie streaming experience back up to where she had hoped. Of course, we now filled her head with questions like, “What’s a static IP address?” “What does 10MBps mean?
Have the same questions as Patty about our recommendations? Call Technospeak today at 310-410-8771 and find out more about how we can help.