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Does Chromecast or Roku work decently with slow DSL?

figure8 2,952 May 21, 2014 at 01:10 AM
Just asking because I just bought my mother a new TV and I'd like to get her a Chromecast or Roku. I hooked her up with wifi years back but she lives way out in the middle of nowhere and the internet is horrible. There is only one ISP and it's the county phone company. She can barely watch Netflix or Amazon Instant Video, but they do work successfully after a longer load time than I'm used to and as long as no other device is using bandwidth. Do you think a Roku or something like it is a decent investment for her? The internet out there is just so slow but we have all these accounts like Prime, Netflix, Pandora, and Plex that I really think she should get some more use out of. I'm just asking because some video apps seem to not be optimized well for bad internet. For instance Aereo and Hulu both were horrible for her, they just didn't buffer well and would give her internet connectivity error messages (while Netflix and Prime worked fine).

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#2
Quote from figure8 View Post :
Just asking because I just bought my mother a new TV and I'd like to get her a Chromecast or Roku. I hooked her up with wifi years back but she lives way out in the middle of nowhere and the internet is horrible. There is only one ISP and it's the county phone company. She can barely watch Netflix or Amazon Instant Video, but they do work successfully after a longer load time than I'm used to and as long as no other device is using bandwidth. Do you think a Roku or something like it is a decent investment for her? The internet out there is just so slow but we have all these accounts like Prime, Netflix, Pandora, and Plex that I really think she should get some more use out of. I'm just asking because some video apps seem to not be optimized well for bad internet. For instance Aereo and Hulu both were horrible for her, they just didn't buffer well and would give her internet connectivity error messages (while Netflix and Prime worked fine).
You could check her bandwidth via speedtest.net and then see what is recommended by Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc.

You would probably be better off getting Dish or DirectTV...with a DVR for recording...that way she can skip the commercials and watch her shows on demand rather than live. They both have lots of different packages to choose from.

I am guessing the new TV already has built-in apps for Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Pandora and that is how you know some don't work well for her? Roku is just a little box with those same apps, for TVs that don't already have them.

My understanding of Chromecast is that it is like a USB stick that streams to the TV from whatever is showing on the Chrome browser on her PC. So I wouldn't think that would work well either, since it is also dependent on bandwidth.

Since the Internet access is so bad, maybe she could drop it to offset the price for Dish or Direct?
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Last edited by ccdeviney May 21, 2014 at 06:19 AM
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#3
Quote from ccdeviney View Post :
You could check her bandwidth via speedtest.net and then see what is recommended by Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc.

You would probably be better off getting Dish or DirectTV...with a DVR for recording...that way she can skip the commercials and watch her shows on demand rather than live. They both have lots of different packages to choose from.

I am guessing the new TV already has built-in apps for Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Pandora and that is how you know some don't work well for her? Roku is just a little box with those same apps, for TVs that don't already have them.

My understanding of Chromecast is that it is like a USB stick that streams to the TV from whatever is showing on the Chrome browser on her PC. So I wouldn't think that would work well either, since it is also dependent on bandwidth.

Since the Internet access is so bad, maybe she could drop it to offset the price for Dish or Direct?
Your understanding of Chromecast is right and wrong. It's HDMI and it does more than stream from the browser. You can use it to stream your browser window but you don't have to. In that case the computer is transcoding the video your getting on the computer and transmitting it over your internal home network to the chromecase. Depending on the content source you need a faster computer to make this work well. You can use it directly to stream netflix and other sources though. In that case you use your smartphone or tablet to act as a remote to start, stop, choose content etc. If OP's mom doesnt have a smartphone or tablet I would probably skip the chromecast because she would have to go to a computer to control content. Here is a detailed how chromecast works http://www.androidauthority.com/h...st-248968/

As far as the Roku, do you have one to test with her? I would think it should work decently, there are a lot of bandwidth options you can set in the settings of it and the apps. All else fails take it home and use it yourself.

The limitation is going to be mostly her service and not the box she is using. Some might be a bit better optimized but don't expect magic.
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#4
I had a WDTV live with netflix on 2Mbps DSL and it worked. I even got HD video out of it. However, when using netflix, nothing else could use the internet or the netflix video would suffer and it was noticeable.
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#5
How slow is slow? Is it 3 Mbps, 2 Mbps, 768 kbps? Many of those streaming services have settings in which you can change the quality (and thus the required bandwidth), so you'll need to experiment a bit. SD video will require less bandwidth than HD, but you may still find it stuttering with a 768 kbps connection.

Also keep in mind that the connection you have is shared among all devices. If a Roku is streaming at 1 Mbps and you only have a 1 Mbps connection, nothing else can use the internet.
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#6
Just plug in a laptop and see if hulu and Netflix work. How hard is that?
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#7
Quote from figure8 View Post :
Just asking because I just bought my mother a new TV and I'd like to get her a Chromecast or Roku. I hooked her up with wifi years back but she lives way out in the middle of nowhere and the internet is horrible. There is only one ISP and it's the county phone company. She can barely watch Netflix or Amazon Instant Video, but they do work successfully after a longer load time than I'm used to and as long as no other device is using bandwidth. Do you think a Roku or something like it is a decent investment for her? The internet out there is just so slow but we have all these accounts like Prime, Netflix, Pandora, and Plex that I really think she should get some more use out of. I'm just asking because some video apps seem to not be optimized well for bad internet. For instance Aereo and Hulu both were horrible for her, they just didn't buffer well and would give her internet connectivity error messages (while Netflix and Prime worked fine).
Netflix still mails discs. If her internet is under 1Mbps, a bluray player + netflix/amazon app would likely be better.

If you already have a terrible internet connection, ditch wireless whenever possible.
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#8
Internet Connection Speed Recommendations from Netflix

https://help.netflix.com/en/node/306
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#9
Quote from sd444 View Post :
Netflix still mails discs. If her internet is under 1Mbps, a bluray player + netflix/amazon app would likely be better.

If you already have a terrible internet connection, ditch wireless whenever possible.
I really can't ditch wireless because we all use Netflix and Prime on our tablets (though not at the same time). A wired connection would be ideal but I'd have to run the ethernet cable across the house in order to reach the entertainment setup. I'm now just curious if say a PS3, Roku, Chromecast, Fire, etc. handles low bandwidth wifi better than any of it's competitors. I mean we are talking like 0.7Mbps most of the time. Surprisingly Netflix, Prime, and Youtube work alright with it though. Just not the best quality and you can't do much else besides that one stream.

Quote from Rebound View Post :
Just plug in a laptop and see if hulu and Netflix work. How hard is that?
Wow! Such a great idea!
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Last edited by figure8 May 22, 2014 at 12:37 PM
#10
Quote from figure8 View Post :
I really can't ditch wireless because we all use Netflix and Prime on our tablets (though not at the same time). A wired connection would be ideal but I'd have to run the ethernet cable across the house in order to reach the entertainment setup. I'm now just curious if say a PS3, Roku, Chromecast, Fire, etc. handles low bandwidth wifi better than any of it's competitors. I mean we are talking like 0.7Mbps most of the time. Surprisingly Netflix, Prime, and Youtube work alright with it though. Just not the best quality and you can't do much else besides that one stream.


Wow! Such a great idea!
Wireless can make your already slow connection worse. i.e. 1Mbps wired vs 700Kbps wireless. That could be a pretty big difference for you. That's why I recommended wired.

Tons of devices do automatic background updates / syncing that could be killing your connection also. Those tablets likely auto update and auto sync by default.

A few tablets can do HDMI out with a $5 cable.
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#11
Chromecast is $30, its worth a try. If it doesn't work take it home and use it yourself or give it away to a friend, etc. Remember what I said about the lack of a remote and the need for another device. Might not be best for mom.

Roku frequently goes on sale for about $50-60 or less so you're not out a lot there if it doesnt work. It does have a remote.
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#12
Quote from Rebound View Post :
Just plug in a laptop and see if hulu and Netflix work. How hard is that?
Right & then just connect your computer to your tv. Easy.
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