At home and on the go: How to optimize your streaming experience

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    Streaming is not just a contemporary, but wonderfully diverse form of film and series enjoyment. But when things get stuck, this pleasure quickly turns into frustration. Then it becomes important to set the right levers for problem solving in motion. We'll explain what you can do when things don't go well here.
    If that's not a number: In total, around 52 percent of all Germans aged 14 and over currently use some form of video streaming – for the U35 group, it is even over 70 percent. A success story that rose in a meteoric manner within a few years, thanks not only to the huge media libraries, but also to the fact that it is largely independent of time and location. Because whether comfortably by TV or laptop on the couch at home or on the go via mobile phone, tablet and Co.: Streaming is fun for everyone, as long as a reasonably modern device and an internet connection are available. But this is exactly where the rabbit is in the pepper: Due to the online constraint, various problems can cloud the experience. Be it stutters, poor picture quality or complete disconnections
    The following article wants to take action against this. It not only shows typical problems and questions about streaming, but also provides user-friendly solutions and answers.
    Streaming at home: the right screws
    For most streamers, home is where they most often access Netflix, Amazon, and Co. There are a number of things that can be done fundamentally – even without a problem. Above all, this includes the following.

    1) The right light …
    Many enjoy streaming in total darkness. After all, that's how it works in the cinema. In fact, this is not the best option. A little darkness is better, but in such a way that the eye can still easily see everything in the rest of the room – extreme light / dark contrasts are very hard on eyes. The details are as follows:

    The television should neither be directly next to a window nor exactly opposite; both are dazzling.
    Lamps should be indirect – such as uplighters – and should not be reflected on the screen from anywhere in the audience.
    If it's too light outside, don't just close the shutters. Thin curtains dampen the incidence of light without darkening the room.
    Other devices that glow or even blink should be positioned so that they cannot be seen either from the corner of the eye or as a reflection.

    It can also help to place a weak LED lamp directly behind the television, which will illuminate the background a little.
    2) Voluminous sound
    A good picture without a rich sound is only half the fun of streaming. The sound also needs to be optimized:

    The TV shouldn't just hang on the wall. A shelf installed underneath already makes the sound better – the TV speakers usually aim. backwards / downwards. If there is only air, the sound is not properly reflected to the viewer.
    Uncomfortable reverberation can occur in fairly empty rooms. In this case it is advisable to lay out carpets and decorate the walls if necessary. This swallows unwanted sound reflections.
    The soundbar belongs only to one place: in the middle "at the feet" of the TV. For this purpose it was designed with the direction of radiation of its speakers. The often associated subwoofer also has the best space in the middle.

    However, the woofer should not be placed directly on the wall. At least twenty centimeters distance ensure a significantly better sound.
    3) Picture and sound modes
    Most televisions like sound bars have different modes or the ability to change them automatically. Here it is urgently worth taking the time to test it carefully – and of course to switch to the right mode for the respective stream instead of always keeping it.
    When the domestic stream jerky and / or the quality suffers
    The right set screws can have been turned, they only bring nothing if the stream itself causes problems. However, there is always a suitable answer to all possible discrepancies.

    1) Avoid overloaded Internet providers and slow tariffs
    One of the most common reasons why the stream jerky is that there are currently too many people on the Internet – for example between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. or generally at the weekend. It is a fact that many leisure activities, not just streaming, are now based on the Internet.
    The bad news first: If it really is up to the provider, nothing can be done for the moment apart from waiting – at most on the network to check on fault pages whether there is currently an unusual problem on site. However, if it happens more often and all other sources of error can be excluded, a long-term change of provider should take place. Before that, however, there is a careful comparison of DSL providers and especially a streaming speed on site, not just generally: 10 Mbit / s should be at least in the download in this house, this apartment, but better.
    Most streaming services manage with less, but in reality the contractual speed is usually a maximum value that can only be achieved at a few times of the day, which is often far below in practice. This means that more basic power is required so that no jerking occurs even at peak times.

    2) Allocate waiting time to the overloaded streaming server
    Ultimately, streaming means that a film or series is available in digital form from the respective service. And even if Netflix and Co. have gigantic server farms to ensure that there are never any problems, there is still an unreasonable burden in practice.
    This is particularly often the case with high-demand titles – for example on the day of the release of a new series, season or episode or when a film blockbuster is released. Since this is happening worldwide with some streaming services at the same time, hundreds of thousands of viewers can well be "crowded" and this can lead to playback problems. Here are some solutions:

    Highly popular, long-awaited media in particular should not be watched on the day of publication, but rather allowed to pass for a few days. With globally available titles, switching to an unusual time unfortunately doesn't help much.
    Start the medium, but then pause so that the buffer can fill up. Sometimes it can also help to change the player – there are often differences in the size of the buffer memory.
    If high sound settings are selected for the streaming service (about 5.1) switch to normal sound, this reduces the amount of transmitted data.

    It also always helps to have a few films and series in hand so that you can switch to them if in doubt.
    3) Check the application or app
    The apps from streaming services often report when something doesn't work – but sometimes they remain silent. It is therefore always helpful to do the following early on with all problems:
    1. Close the app and then start it again.
    If that doesn't help:
    2. With the app started, log out of the account completely, close the app, restart and log in again.
    If that doesn't help:
    3. Uninstall the app from the respective device. If the uninstall program asks for it, including all saved user data. Then reinstall the app.
    In this way, all problems that could exist via the app or the account can be reliably excluded.

    4) Check the player
    Anyone streaming on a laptop, tablet or cell phone, as well as on the very computerized modern Smart TVs, can experience difficulties because too many processes are running at the same time. Here, jerky streaming is no different from, for example, a game or a slowly building website – the computer simply has to process too many tasks at the same time, so that there is not enough power available.
    Depending on the operating system, there are special ways to switch off such “background tasks”. There are also cleanup programs. But here, too, the default mode should first dictate the simple switching off and on again. This is especially true if the device has been running for a long time before the streaming service or its program was started and there were changing applications running on it.
    When it starts up again, the following applies: just start the streaming service and try whether it has improved.
    5) Change the WiFi channel
    WLAN is also just a radio application such as remote-controlled toy cars, radios or walkie-talkies. And because there are so many of them, all radio applications worldwide only have a limited frequency range – which is practically always closely monitored by the state; the Federal Network Agency is responsible for us.
    There are two established frequency ranges for WLAN:

    2.4 gigahertz (GHz) with 13 freely usable channels between 2.412 and 2.472 GHz.
    5.0 GHz with 24 freely usable channels between 5.180 and 5.825 GHz.

    These 37 channels work best as long as not several WLANs work in the same range on the same channel. However, this can certainly happen in tightly built-up areas – especially if many apartments there use the same standard router from the provider in the standard mode of delivery status. Then the same thing happens as if several radio stations were broadcasting on the same frequency: the listener would only get incomprehensible gibberish. In the case of streaming, the analogy is a complicated data transmission and therefore jerky.
    The solution: go to the menu of the router – the how can always be found in the operating instructions. At least the currently used channel can be changed there; Some routers also indicate which channel is currently particularly busy or not very busy, many also have an automatic function that automatically switches the router to the least frequently used channel – however, this often does not work as reliably as would be desirable .

    6) Remove obstacles around and in the router
    Again, we would like to refer to the "sparking" nature of WLAN. Because just as a journey through a long tunnel reliably blocks the reception of the car radio, furnishings and the building itself have what it takes to permanently inhibit communication between the end device and router and thus the streaming fun.

    Ideally, the router should be in the same room as the receiving device. If this is not possible, there should be a maximum of one ceiling or wall in between.
    If in doubt, try whether it improves the problem by switching to the 2.4 gigahertz range in the router menu. Compared to 5.0 GHz, it has a slightly longer range and can penetrate materials a little better. But of course switch to the least polluted channel.
    Check whether there are any other interferences between the router and the receiver. Badly shielded power lines are prominent, as are unfortunately often used in extension cables and multiple plugs. But also metal pipes in the walls and any other electrical device, especially if it is radio-controlled (keyword: wireless landline phone), can inhibit the signal quality.
    Align the router's antennas. This is not only possible with external antennas, but also extremely useful so that their signals do not influence each other and because each antenna design has a different radiation pattern. In the case of routers with an integrated antenna, the operating instructions reveal the direction in which they are best emitted – if necessary, the device must therefore be rotated / tilted.
    Check again in the router menu whether there is a firmware update. This can improve the situation. Conversely, a recent update can sometimes do the opposite. In this case, check whether a downgrade to an earlier software version is possible.

    If the streaming service can be used on multiple devices, it should also be checked whether the same problems exist on other devices.

    When the mobile stream jerky and / or the quality suffers
    If you stream on the go, you can use many of the solutions from the previous chapter, such as restarting your device and app. Due to the mobile nature, there are other problems here that require their own approach.
    1) Check cell phone network
    Anywhere, 5G is still an advertising promise at best – and even with the slower connections, there are some gaps depending on the location and provider. The first step should therefore be to open the connection map created on behalf of the Federal Network Agency or to load the associated app and take a closer look at its current location – in most cases of jerky mobile streaming, this will already be the cause.

    2) Check data volume
    In German mobile phone contracts, the download volumes supplied are extremely limited compared to other countries – in other words: there are only a few countries where mobile Internet is more expensive per megabyte than here.
    If a pure connection problem can be ruled out, the account on the website of the mobile phone provider is the next point of contact. Maybe streaming has simply used up the available volume; Notification of the provider via mobile phone is not always as quick as one would like it to be. In the account it is usually faster.
    3) Search for open WiFi networks
    Open WLAN does have various security gaps – online banking or the maintenance of your PayPal account should not be used for this. Streaming, on the other hand, is less security-relevant. This applies at least if the account is not used for shopping; bad cards for Amazon streamers.
    Nevertheless, it can be helpful on the go to connect to a nearby WLAN for a more constant picture and sound connection. Not just for test purposes, but because it tackles all mobile-based problems at the root.

    4) Go up and / or out
    There is one rule in radio: the higher the frequency, the shorter the range. Now 4G / LTE with a maximum of 2.6 GHz is lower than WLAN, should therefore theoretically have a better range; In practice, however, radio masts are usually a good bit further away than the next WLAN router, since the higher transmission power doesn't help much either.
    Anyone who is in a building, but still streams mobile, should therefore try to move to higher floors or ideally outdoors.
    5) Prepare by downloading
    Streaming does need the internet – but not necessarily permanently. Both Netflix and many other providers offer their subscribers (but sometimes only for selected media) the option to download them.
    This means that if there is a fear that the internet connection is insufficient and / or incomplete (e.g. before the car trip mentioned above), it can be a sensible option to have enough films or series sequences beforehand from home or at another location with unlimited WLAN to download to his device. These then run completely without a network connection – a great option for the still tricky streaming on the plane.
    Helpful additional functions from Netflix
    The largest streaming service in Germany is Amazon – with 46.9 percent of all subscriptions. However, this number should be used with caution, the necessary subscription is automatically available with a Prime account; many Prime subscribers do not necessarily only use it / for streaming, but have other associated advantages in mind, such as fast deliveries.
    Regarding the exclusive streaming of films and series, Netflix is ​​therefore in an official second place in Germany with 37.5 percent of the subscribers. And the service also has a few additional functions up its sleeve that make viewing better:

    Individual or all entries can be deleted in the account settings under What you viewed – practical, for example, to receive other suggestions in the future.
    For the Chrome browser, there is an official plugin called Netflix Hangouts. It shows a video conference on the browser so that (at first glance) you can stream secretly.
    The buffer rate can be viewed and increased in the settings under Stream Manager – extremely practical if the internet connection is poor.
    In the account settings under playback settings there is the possibility to reduce the data consumption. Although this reduces the image quality, it can also help with poor reception.
    Another Chrome plugin called Super Netflix wants to help you never get spoiled again – by hiding tell-tale thumbnails and episode descriptions.
    For a lot (but not all) of the content, there is an option to get audio descriptions. They can be found in the audio and subtitle options. Once switched on, they provide a purely acoustic description of the scene. The function is actually intended for the visually impaired, but it makes films and series an exciting audio book.

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