Streaming Internet Video Without the Herky-Jerky

Question: I have successfully hooked up my laptop to my TV.. I have a new Toshiba computer and have made the connection using a VGA to TV converter box. Everything works good except for one thing, The videos and live TV broadcasts seem to be a little jerky, like they are buffering or something. I am receiving internet through a Verizon wireless DSL modem.

Is there a computer or modem setting that needs to be changed. Or do you need something else to produce seamless video similar to cable TV.

-Submitted by Fischer

Answer: Your question has me thinking from several angles, since you weren't exactly clear if the issue occurs when streaming content over the web (since you mentioned how you're connected to the web) or viewing local content (since you mentioned live TV broadcasts). I'll hit on both topics, though, since others could be facing problems with each.

Let's first start by assuming that we're talking Internet streaming, meaning you're pulling content from the web and trying to display it on a TV. Diagnosing issues with Internet streaming is tricky business; there are just so many variables between the server that houses the video and your display. We can narrow it down, however, with a little troubleshooting:

For starters, let's take a look at the site you're pulling videos from. First, make sure you've updated your Flash software to the latest version, which is critical to proper playback of most Internet video. Since you've indicated your computer is new, it's probably running the latest stuff, but for others who may be having similar issues, this could be the issue.

Now, do all videos stutter when you try to play them back? If so, this site's servers simply could be overloaded, or the connection between you and the server isn't fast enough to stream in real time. If it's the former, there's not much you can do, shy of letting the entire video buffer into memory before playing it back. If it's the latter, you could try to increase your download speed buy purchasing a faster package from your ISP.

Next, if the problem affects both Internet streaming and some kinds of local stored video files (particularly high resolution/bitrate h.264 videos and HD content), let's take a look at the hardware you're using. You mentioned that the computer is new, but even brand new netbooks (and other Atom-based small form factor PCs), as well as bargain bin laptops, use underpowered graphics hardware and processors. In some cases, they can't keep up decoding non-hardware accelerated videos (like Flash video from the web), especially at high bitrates and resolutions. If you're using one of these, there may not be much you can do to fix the stuttering and skipping except buy a more powerful box.

You also mentioned that you're using somekind of VGA to TV device. Most of the ones I've used seem to work fine, there are many out there that could be the culprit when video playback is problematic. Without knowing the exact make or model, it's hard to say. If your local and Internet videos play fine on a regular computer screen or internal screen (for laptops), but not when using the TV adapter, then I'd say there's your issue.

Good Luck.

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jumpyjack said: I read, in a ny times article "Getting the most out of technology" or something like that (december 2010), that many people can check their download speeds and if it is less than advertised, they could negotiate upgrades or discounts from the provider.

True, but it's often a little more difficult than that. If you are concerned you're not getting the speed you're paying for, a call to the ISP will usually result in a one time discount on service if you're nice and make a case for it, but anything beyond that would mean a tech comes to the house to evaluate your actual service quality.


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