If you’re starting to think about what you’re going to put on your Black Friday or Cyber Monday (November 25th this year) shopping list you might be thinking about a Smart TV. Maybe it’s just for the lounge, or maybe you’re thinking about creating a home cinema experience for yourself and your family where you can enjoy movies, play online games, and enjoy the benefits of having a media centre at home.
But here’s a thing to consider if you’re going to connect your TV to a broadband connection rather than an aerial or satellite receiver: do you have enough data?
While it’s not an issue with smaller screen TVs, every inch of a large screen HD TV screen needs broadband to make it work. Slow internet access will mean that picture quality will slump, freezing, glitching and ‘The Spinning Wheel of Death’ will cause constant interruptions, and overall your enjoyment of something which is supposed to be one of life’s little treats will be a frustrating pain in the neck.
So You Need Faster Broadband, But How Much?
You can find out approximately how fast the internet your TV is getting via your Wi-Fi by running a speed test the TV as possible. This will give you an accurate impression of the kind of Wi-Fi reception the TV gets. (If you can, it’s a really good idea to connect your TV to your router via an ethernet cable. This specially designed cable ensures that you get dedicated, stable internet data direct to your TV, but if you can’t do that, a good Wi-Fi speed will be fine.) Once you know the data speed your TV gets you can judge for yourself whether you need faster broadband.
The speeds you need to run TV and streaming services varies wildly depending on the quality of the image you want.
- Standard definition (SD) movies run at 480p and only use two or three megabits per second.
- High definition (HD) programming at 1080p needs between five and eight megabits per second.
- Ultra-high definition (UHD), also called 4k runs at 2160p and takes twenty five megabits per second.
- If you are in the market for an 8k TV the bandwidth requirement is around fifty megabits per second, and that may grow yet as frame rates, colour definition and sound requirements increase.
Most homes with old copper cable connections can cope with SD and HD, but UHD/4K and 8K are far beyond what most copper connections can handle, and even if you had the best around, it would still use so much data that anybody else in the house attempting to use the internet or Smart device would immediately have an affect on your viewing pleasure.
Downloading uses the same amount of bandwidth as streaming, but downloading takes longer as it (usually) takes place in the background while you’re using the computer for something else. That might mean that you would like to download in much higher quality than stream if you plan on watching the movie later. Worth it if you’re watching on 4K or 8K but if you have Superfast or Ultrafast broadband and watching on HD you can already stream at the highest quality your TV can achieve.
How Can You Speed Up Your Internet To Get The Most Out Of Smart TV?
Once you’ve carried out that Wi-Fi speed check you’ll know how good the signal your TV is getting. If it’s not great, try moving the router nearer, or connecting the TV to the router via an ethernet cable.
If there are electrical devices or objects such as heavy furniture, walls or other barriers between the TV and the router then the signal can be compromised. Wi-Fi is intentionally short range so the signal has trouble passing through things you wouldn’t normally expect. If you can, try moving them, or moving the router closer to the TV. And again, if that’s not possible, a good quality ethernet cable is a great solution. If you don’t want an ugly cable hanging down your wall, find out about flatscreen TV installers who can safely and securely attach the TV to the wall and hide away all the cables too.
The figures above show that any good fibre broadband package should be able to provide all the bandwidth you need to get HD, 4k or 8k, but that’s only half the story.
The fact is that if you live with a family you’re going to be doing much more with your Wi-Fi connection than just watching one TV in one room. Kids doing homework, teens tictoking or streaming their own movies on their laptops, running Smart Home devices such as environmental controls or security cameras all take up their fair share of internet data.
Look Out For Flexible Broadband Deals Rather Than Getting Tied Into A Contract.
Finding a flexible provider who will let you change your plan when you need to means that if your first choice proves not to be enough you can change to a faster package without incurring admin fees or starting your minimum contract period all over again. That flexibility means that when the kids go to college or move out you can switch back down to a better plan for your needs.
Briant Broadband offers that flexibility with 4 great plans on fibre broadband plus a fifth on wireless. You can choose a plan that suits you based on your current budget and consumption, but you can change it whenever you like without admin fees or line rental, you can even pause your plan altogether if you’re planning on being away from home for more than 30 days, so you’re not paying for something you’re not using.