How to improve streaming image quality: Netflix, Amazon, HBO…

Let’s start with the TV

Let’s start with the most basic. Each television or screen that we use to watch movies and series has a certain resolution. This is given from the factory and what it tells us is the total number of pixels that the panel has. When we talk about a Full HD display, we speak of the standard of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. And when we talk about 4Kwe really refer to a screen that has approximately 4 million pixels, since 4K is not really a standard as such, oddly enough.

If your television is Full HD (also known as 1080p), it is not that you are seeing your streaming badly, quite the opposite. you are paying for one resolution you can’t use. For the same reason, if you don’t share your account, you don’t have more devices and you’re paying extra to reach that resolution, you’re wasting part of your budget.

On the other hand, we also usually talk about the HDR. This does not refer to the pixels, but to the Dynamic range of tones that the panel can offer. This parameter is standardized, and only a few streaming services offer content for this type of screen.

Each streaming service has its plan

We come to one of the most important points. In actuality there are two types of subscription services:

single plan

They offer a single membership which is uniform for all users. This is the case of Disney + and Apple TV +. Whether or not you have a 4K TV, the only plan you can hire gives you the right to access content in this resolution.

tranche plan

Most platforms have opted for this type of subscription. The basic plans offer more restrained resolutions at cheaper prices. As we want more simultaneous screens or better image qualityYou will have to pay a little more.

In this section, each service is a world. Even the same company can offer different plans depending on the country in which you are located. Netflix is ​​the most controversial case of all. Their most basic membership doesn’t even offer HD resolution. The dual-screen plan allows only Full HD resolution, and only the premium plan supports 4K content.

The playback device is important

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It is not the same to see the content on your Smart TV than on the mobile phone. There are many streaming services that limit the quality of the content depending on the device we are using:

Limitations by device type and operating system

For example, if you have a mobile with QHD resolution, some streaming services such as hbo max (which have a single plan in Spain) will not give you the maximum. The same will happen if you have a mobile with 4K resolution, although they are not quite common. Others have device limitations. Prime Video Amazon offers 4K resolution on Android phones, but not iPhone or iPad. If you have the option, it’s better to watch Prime Video content on Android than on iOS.

Browser limitations

On the rare occasion that a streaming service offers 4K support in the browser, such as Netflix, often does not apply to all browsers. To continue the example, Netflix offers 4K for Microsoft Edge, Safari, and the Netflix app on Windows. The compatibility list may change, but it gives us an idea of ​​where the shots are going. If you’re watching Netflix in Chrome, Firefox, or Brave, you’re not taking advantage of 4K resolution.

Internet connection can play an important role

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In many of the video services that we use on the Internet, such as YouTube, we can select the resolution by hand. If at any time we have poor coverage, we can lower the resolution to prevent playback from cutting out. However, in recent years, this technology has been improving, and quality decline is applied automatically. The exact same thing happens with streaming services, only silently.

If your Internet speed is good and stable – you have your TV near the router or connected directly by Ethernet cable—, you will rarely notice a sudden drop in quality. However, if the environment is saturated, you have a bad connection or your router is one of those that has downturns, the video you consume will be affected.

Each service recommends some parameters based on the encoding they give to their content and the chosen resolution. For the 4K, Netflix recommends a connection of 15 megabits per second As minimum. hbo max requires a better connection, because at least they will ask you for a connection of 25mbps (although they recommend 50 megabits per second to avoid problems).

Regardless of the Internet plan you have contracted at home, it will depend on the coverage whether or not that bandwidth reaches your TV or playback device. If your router is too far away or there are thick walls between the router and your TV, the quality will go down and no one will tell you about it.

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