Troubleshoot Streaming TV Problems
January 23, 2021 6:39 AM   Subscribe

My mom is having problems with streaming Amazon and Netflix in her apartment. She has AT&T internet in her apartment building (not sure if fiber), and watches on a ~6yo Samsung smart TV. The symptom she’s seeing is that both Amazon and Netflix will freeze partway through a show and the show can’t be restarted.

I’ve tried restarting the router but that didn’t help. The TV connects via WiFi in the apartment.

If it has to do with an iffy signal outside her apartment I realize there’s not much we can do...but what else should she try?
posted by chesty_a_arthur to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The first thing I would try to do is rule out the TV itself as the source of the problem. How does wifi work on other devices in the same room? Can you successfully stream those shows on a computer or laptop there? If so, it might be an issue with the TV.

Also, if her router has an ethernet port on it, try connecting the tv via ethernet instead of wifi. Even if it has to be temporary, it will help you narrow down whether the wifi is the problem or it is elsewhere.

Wireless can be hard in apartment buildings because there are only so many channels, and you tend to have a lot of other peoples' wireless networks nearby causing potential interference (not to mention other sources of interference). 5GHz can help with that, but it has other drawbacks, and I don't know if that old of a TV would support it (honestly I don't even know if my current TVs support it, because I have them all hardwired).
posted by primethyme at 6:49 AM on January 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

Perhaps see if watching in the morning works but not the evening. Then it's a capacity problem.

Check if there is an update to the router or the smart TV available.

Is the wifi through the router, or another box? These too could need an update.

Another item, look to see if the wifi access point and/or the router are renewing IP addresses through DHCP at some crazy rate (should be once a day or even less frequent).
A smart TV that keeps getting it's address changed can get really confused with it's stream.

Another item to check, see if a laptop or phone does not have this problem. The smart TV might have issues, need a full reset.
posted by nickggully at 7:22 AM on January 23, 2021

Best answer: both Amazon and Netflix will freeze partway through a show and the show can’t be restarted.

To me this certainly sounds like a software problem in the TV and not in the network connection. And it's a 6 year-old TV, you say? I can see problems in having the latest-greatest code running on that set unless Samsung is stellar at supporting older products (cough cough).

My recommendation would be to go to Target or Walmart, buy a $30 Amazon Fire Stick and see if the Amazon/Netflix streaming works on that. If you see the same trouble you can return the stick and then take it up with AT&T.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:24 AM on January 23, 2021 [4 favorites]

Samsung TV apps are kind of awful, and a 6 year old tv is nearing the end of its support cycle, so I agree this is probably the TVs fault. This kind of thing frequently happens to my parents 2 year old samsung tv
posted by JZig at 8:53 AM on January 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I’m so glad I asked! My assumption was that this was an unsolvable network problem so I’m crazy excited that it could be...solvable!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:01 AM on January 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Samsung TV apps are kind of awful

I disagree with this assessment. I've always found them completely awful.
posted by flabdablet at 9:31 AM on January 23, 2021 [7 favorites]

Once you verify that an external box helps, make sure you also completely disconnect the TV itself from the network, look for an option to do a "factory reset".
posted by Poldo at 9:45 AM on January 23, 2021

agree with factory reseting the tv. We have a smart tv we no longer use but the remote still has a netflix button that will automatically swap the input to the tv netflix. super confusing sometimes!
posted by noloveforned at 9:52 AM on January 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Came to say that smart TVs suck and they never have the hardware to keep up with the changes in streaming services and they also tend to not get software updates after a really short support lifetime and they all really suck. Get a Roku or Chromecast or AppleTV whatever and never ever trust a TV's "smart" to last more than a couple of years.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:59 PM on January 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

To me this certainly sounds like a software problem in the TV and not in the network connection.

I agree. Samsung TV are notorious for locking up. Sometimes it is due to a memory overflow. You might try deleting some stuff from her saved programs or favorites to see if that frees up some memory. There is also an option buried somewhere in the setup or maintenance menu that allows you to reset the device. That might also clear out the clog.
posted by JackFlash at 8:17 PM on January 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Good news, everyone! Although I hate the navigation UI, the Fire stick was super easy to set up (like, my husband and I got all fascinated by how it said what it was going to do, like restart, and then did the thing correctly! Inconceivable!) and my mom reports that the picture is clearer and it has stopped doing the stopping thing! She’s delighted especially because she has low vision and is largely isolated in her apartment right now due to Covid, so a clear picture on a big tv is a sanity saver.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:24 PM on January 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

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