Sunday, June 12, 2011

Netflix HD Streaming HD Not Working?

So, you may have noticed the little HD sign on the lower right corner of your Netflix streaming videos when using a computer. And if you are like me, you prefer your entertainment in HD format and at highest possible quality, given that you have the applicable hardware and qualifying high speed internet connection.

But, some people may mistakenly think that the Netflix HD feature is not working properly. The reason being: many times when users initially login to Netflix via a computer and navigate to their intended show, a mouse over the HD sign will reveal "Not playing HD" yet reassuring "Allow HD." The issue causing this is the feature's relatively slow assessment of your connection speed, that may indeed lead to a rapid freak out, given all of that hard earned cash we spend on our high speed connections!

Nonetheless, if you meet the following conditions, Netflix streaming will upgrade your streaming to HD quality after a brief HD re-buffering, just a few moments into your show during the standard quality playback. So,

- If you are using a 5 Mbps (downstream) or faster connection
- If your intended show is originally offered in HD by Netflix, and
- If you are not using your connection for any other bandwidth consuming purposes during the playback,
you should momentarily experience the HD re-buffering and afterward your show will continue playing in HD quality.

Click on the slideshow for a larger view (Opens a new window/tab)

Also, many users face similar type of slow recognitions of their downstream speeds when using other streaming services such as Hulu and TV networks' or shows' own streaming platforms. Some of these services, most notoriously, YouTube, allow users to set the higher streaming quality levels (assuming availability) regardless of users' connection speeds, which can result in a non-satisfactory playback due to extremely slow buffering when users pack too much for their connections to bite. But, others such as South Park Studios and Netflix determine HD playback only automatically to avoid that type of user experience by eliminating manual user choice and solely basing it on the users' downstream speeds.


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  2. I have a 50mbps connection and Netflix won't play HD. Fuck these automatic systems, let me choose by myself, even if it means waiting 40 minutes for the video to buffer enough to play.

  3. To manually select the stream bitrate, press the following keys during a video

    For windows: Shift + Alt + Left Click (on the video)
    For macs: Ctrl + Shift + Option + S

    This will bring up the stream manager window where you can force the quality you want to stream at.

    It might take a little while for the stream to catch up with the quality you select. Alternatively I think you can click somewhere on the timeline for it to reload it at the quality you selected.

    Hope this helps.