FOR THOSE OF you regularly watching Netflix through your laptop, you will have known that the type of speeds you have can affect image quality, but where you’re watching a show and your settings can play a part in image quality.
One of the easiest changes you can make with your settings is data usage. It recommends that if you want to stream in HD, you should have an internet connection that is 5Mb/s or faster.
It’s still possible to watch HD with slower speeds but you’ll have to wait for it to load up properly. In the meantime, it will play the show or movie in lower quality so you’re not waiting around (but you’re probably better off giving it a minute or two to load up before you watch it).
If you want to stream 4K or Ultra HD quality shows, you will need a 25MB/s or faster connection.
Even so, you can adjust the streaming quality so you’re getting the best quality possible. By going into Your Account > Playback Settings, you can change the data usage per screen setting from auto (which takes into account your speeds and data usage) to low, medium or high. It can take up to eight hours for these settings to take effect.
The same thing can be done on the mobile app when you go into App Settings, except that deals with mobile data.
If you’re streaming with anything other than high (or Auto if you have a fast connection), you’re not going to get HD quality from Netflix.
What you’re watching it on
Another thing to take into consideration is where you’re watching Netflix. That may sound trival but it’s worth keeping in mind. Chances are you might not know that each device has a max resolution they can stream in.
480p - Playstation Vita, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, 3DS, Roku 1 (without HDMI), Wii.
720p - Chrome, Firefox, Opera.
1080p - Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Safari, Roku, Chromecast, Ps3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U.
If you think about it, these resolutions make sense. For the majority of 480p modes, you’re watching them on a small screen so you wouldn’t notice higher resolution. If you’re watching on an older device like a Wii, you’re better off changing.
On a browser, the same thing applies. If you’re watching a show like House of Cards on your laptop, then the difference between 720p and 1080p isn’t going to be particularly noticeable.
But if you decide to hook up your laptop to a larger screen like a HDTV, then you will notice the difference. The bigger the screen, the bigger role screen resolution plays.
If you’re watching on a TV and you’re not getting the right quality, then it could be down to a few things. The data modes listed above affect all devices (not just your laptop) while your internet speeds play a significant impact, but another potential reason could be the type of plan you’re on.
The usual plan is two screens + HD, but there are two other plans. A standard definition one where you only have one screen available, and a HD and Ultra HD plan which lets you watch on four screens at the same time. It’s no harm in checking to see if you’re on the right plan or not.
If none of that works, then it might be worth looking at your internet service provider (ISP) to see if something is the issue. Considering that it’s an issue that’s cropped up before, it mightn’t be a bad idea to check.