Netflix offers three subscription levels. While these all include access to the same selection of shows and movies, the more you pay, the more screens you can use at the same time and the better the picture quality. If you’ve splashed onto a shiny new 4K TV recently, it’s probably worth the investment … but you could be paying a hefty monthly fee for the picture quality your broadband connection doesn’t have enough to stream to your TV.
Thankfully, Speedtest has updated its popular iOS app with a new feature specially designed to benchmark the quality of video that you can stream at home. Ookla, the inventor of Speedtest – one of the most popular internet speed testers on the internet – announced the new functionality late last week.
So far, the speed test has always measured the general status of your connection and checked the maximum download and upload speed as well as the latency. These can be helpful numbers, especially if you want to compare them to the download speeds promised when you signed your current broadband contract. However, they are not always very helpful in figuring out what kind of streaming you can achieve at home. That’s why the latest test focuses solely on video. It tries to stream from your smartphone at a variety of resolutions and then it measures loading times and buffering that you can expect.
It’s worth noting that ISPs often treat video traffic differently than other web traffic. While the number created by Speedtest suggests that you have enough bandwidth to stream high quality video, at peak times your internet company may place some restrictions on video traffic so you can get lower quality streams from Netflix than otherwise envisioned.
To ensure that the test is correct for all networks, Speedtest transmits video samples with different resolutions. This means it will be able to customize its results based on how your broadband company handles video.
After the test, the Speedtest app lists details such as the maximum resolution of your internet connection and the loading time you can expect before you can stream the next episode of your new favorite show. With this information, you can then verify that you’re not paying Netflix a monthly premium for a solution that is unreachable on your network or that would take a frustratingly long time to buffer.
Netflix charges £ 5.99 per month for its standard definition package. Prices go up to £ 13.99 per month for those who want to watch Ultra HD (4K). That’s an additional £ 96 a year for the privilege. You can subscribe to Amazon Prime or Disney +, as well as your Netflix package … and still have some changes for popcorn.
If you can’t stream video even though the connection speed is theoretically fast enough, Speedtest will now link to Downdetector – an independent website that uses social media posts to track whether users are having problems with an online service like Netflix, Gmail, or Amazon Prime – so that you can find out if this is your connection or if the service is not available to all users.
Unfortunately, this new functionality is currently only available in the iOS app, although we’ll likely see an update to the Android version soon.