Not getting really good streamed video

Posted on 2009-04-09
Last Modified: 2013-11-08
I want to watch TV shows from networks (which are streamed after they've been aired originally). I'm on vacation and I just bought this laptop because it seemed to have  the right stuff. The folks in the store said, "you shouldn't have a problem".
I'm about to go back and have them look at it, using their wi-fi setup. If it works OK, then I guess it means the wireless here at our rental is deficient (linksys G).
I cant add a video room (Toshiba L305-S5941), but there is an "express card slot "on the side.
So: 1- would an added video card in the slot solve the problem, and if so,
2- is there such a device.
Question by:stmijaar
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LVL 20

Expert Comment

ID: 24107292
It is more likely that the file is the problem not the video card.
A video file is *big*.   Think of a DVD.  Two hours of movie and a few add in clips takes up 4 GB or even more if the disk is double density.  This is not the sort of video you would want to stream so they compress the video down to a fraction of this size.
This results in pixalisation and areas of colour seem to run in bands.
If this is the case swapping the video card will do nothing at all.

Author Comment

ID: 24107833
I can watch the tv shows with perfect streaming at home. I have 2gb ram there; this laptop has 3gb ram. problem is not color banding or pixelization, just freeze frames and dropped frames which get worse as the show goes on. I thought it might be the video card might be too slow in terms of buffering and that another card would fix that.  But also, I don't even know if such cards exist (express cards which plug into the side of the laptop).
LVL 20

Expert Comment

ID: 24107999
I would look at the broadband connection first.  More likely to be that than the video card.

Try something like
at both places and see if you are getting a slow connection
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Author Comment

ID: 24108242
did the test. .410mbs download. not sur what that means with video streaming. don't want to save the tv show, just watch it once.
I'm off to the computer store now to talk to them and see if their wireless server will provide correct streaming (I wish I really knew how this stuff works). Shame is I don't need a laptop for just email & surfing the web. I bought this beause my wife's old apple was so slow we couldn't skype to our  grandchildren and I couldn't watch the tv shows i missed. I could always email.
I won't be able to check back for awhile. Thank you for your suggestions so far.
LVL 20

Expert Comment

ID: 24108363
Video streaming has to save the file quick enough so you can see enough frames per second to make the picture work.
You might be better to save it (if that is an option) and watch it at the end of the download.  If it goes slow it will not break up that way.
That speed is less that half a meg.  I would say that is too slow to stream video.  Especially if it is larger than a little 1-2 inch screen which I bet it is.
LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 24109465
0.410mb is definitely too slow for glitch-free video streaming.   A high-quality stream requires ~ 1.5mbs; and although a highly compressed stream will work well at 256kbs (which you have) it must be completely uninterrupted to be "glitch free" ... and you're simply not getting a high enough rate to support that.

It's not likely a problem with the laptop -- it's just too slow a connection.   Assuming there's a good broadband connection at your rental; you're probably too far from the router.   Try moving the laptop closer to the router and see if the speedtest improves.   Also, if you have direct access to the router; and have a cable with you; try using a wired connection.

Author Comment

ID: 24111706
Thank you very much,
You're both right on! I went back to Best Buy and watched beautifully streamed video on their broadband connection. At home, in Wisconsin, I have cable broadband and wireless N and get extremely good streaming. Her at the rental it's DSL. I'm close to the router and often some of the other 5 computers in our residence are also online (4 units of our family are renting  a large house together). I didn't bring any cables; that won't happen again. And I will work on saving the download to view later.
LVL 70

Accepted Solution

garycase earned 500 total points
ID: 24111895
A relatively modest broadband couple with multiple systems accessing it wirelessly at the same time easily explains why you're getting an inadequate connection speed for streaming.   If you're close to a Best Buy (which I assume you may be, since you indicated you went there to test the speeds) you could pick up an ethernet cable and that would easily fix the issue :-)

The alternative (if available for the specific site you're streaming from) is to set the player to do the download first; then show the video -- that will work perfectly (since the entire video will be on the laptop ... no streaming necessary while watching).

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