Troubleshooting A Lagging Smart TV: A Step-by-Step Guide

Troubleshooting A Lagging Smart TV

Giving up your cable TV and switching to smart TV can provide more entertainment options while also saving you money. Unfortunately, this switch can also lead to potentially more technological difficulties.

With satellite or cable TV, one of the service provider’s set-top boxes connects to your TV set, and the most likely errors typically have to do with the service provider.

With a smart TV, you are streaming video over the internet, and you must account for the service quality of your streaming provider, your streaming device’s capabilities, Wi-Fi connectivity, and internet speed.

All these factors have their own potential reliability problems. This step-by-step guide for troubleshooting a lagging smart TV will address each of these issues.

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How to Troubleshoot a Lagging Smart TV

If you run into issues such a lagging smart TV, poor video quality or buffering, all of these different factors make troubleshooting video streaming more complicated.

Instead of trying random solutions, it is best to follow step-by-step instructions in order to locate the real source of the problem and increase your chances of fixing the problem on your own.

Below you will find our step-by-step guide to troubleshooting a lagging smart TV. 

Step 1: Troubleshooting a Slow Network Connection on Your Smart TV

The most common cause of your smart TV having lagging issues is a slow network connection. Recurring network problems can transform your TV watching experience into a buffering nightmare.

An inconsistent and slow internet connection can lead to wasted time and frustration during what you had likely hoped to have been a relaxing time to unwind.

Without fast internet speed, streaming video cannot work well enough to enjoy videos and shows. It is recommended to have at least 15 Mbps download speed for each smart TV that you plan to use simultaneously. For instance, you will need at least 30 Mbps for two smart TVs streaming at one time.

In the instance that you do not have sufficient internet speed included in your service contract, you can inquire with your internet provider for an upgrade. If your internet speed should be enough for streaming but you are experiencing lagging and buffering, then there is likely another reason that you are experiencing a slower network, or there could be another issue with your lagging Smart TV.

More often than not, your network issues have their origin at home. But, with the right tools, it is relatively easy to diagnose and fix these problems.

There are many common network connectivity issues that may be the result of your own settings or devices. It is important to check these when troubleshooting a slow network connection on your Smart TV. Some of these issues include:

1. Slow Connection Due to Bandwidth Saturation.

If you keep multiple browser windows open on your computer, actively text on your smartphone, all while streaming on your smart TV, you may exceed your bandwidth limits.

Bandwidth saturation can lead to buffering of your streaming video. Additionally, it is important to consider if there are other bandwidth users who could be contributing to bandwidth saturation. Some of those could include:

  • People in your home accessing services and sites simultaneously
  • Game consoles perpetually left connected to the internet
  • Automatic updates for desktop software and mobile apps
  • Internet of Things (IoT) devices
  • WiFi thieves such as a neighbor connected to your home network without your knowledge

You can reduce or eliminate bandwidth saturation in several different ways, besides buying more bandwidth. A good place to start is to try to turn off all devices except your smart TV to see if this solves the lagging issue.

You will know this is a solution if the lagging remarkably improves on your Smart TV when all other devices are turned off. However, this will not address those devices of which you are not aware.

The best way to identify network bottlenecks is to use a tool that offers real-time transparency into your network’s performance. For instance, one good tool to use is PingPlotter.

Rather than just guessing, this tool will show you exactly where network latency is occurring. This provides a targeted approach that follows the aforementioned method of checking a slow connection due to bandwidth saturation.

2. Solving Issues with the Local Network.

If you have narrowed down the source of your problem to an issue on your local network, you can try to fix it on your own prior to/rather than calling a service provider.

Rebooting your router is the first thing to try. In order to do this, turn your device off and on again. You may do this by unplugging the power, then plugging it back again after waiting for about 30 seconds. In many cases, just by rebooting the router, you may solve a slow network issue.

Most routers come with a function for factory reset. This works as a stronger reboot option compared to turning the router on and off. The way you perform a factory reset on your router depends on the device model.

You can search on the web in order to find the steps to perform this reset option for your particular device. A factory reset will restore all the default settings, including passwords.

Ensure that you know the router’s default password before proceeding to a factory reset.

If your slow network issue is not fixed by rebooting or resetting the router, then the problem may be related to another hardware or wireless.

Hardware

In order to find the bad network hardware, you have to try and replace different network components. The most common network hardware components besides the router are cables, the hub, NIC, the modem and the switch.

In case you do not have spare network hardware components, you may ask a friend to loan them to you or purchase from your service provider or a store that sells the tech equipment.

If, after swapping out a component, your network performance gets better, then chances are that component was broken and you have found the resolution to your issue.

Wireless

It is possible that other household appliances and devices may sometimes interfere with your Wi-Fi network. You can check if you have a wireless issue by connecting with ethernet.

If the problem goes away, then you discovered the cause of your lagging internet. If it does not, then you will likely have to test other solutions.

3. Solving Issues Outside of Your Local Network.

In case you have narrowed down your issue to something outside your local network, you will likely not have control over the failing part.

The only option, realistically at this point, is to contact your internet provider’s technical support. This involves building a case, contacting the internet provider’s allocated number for technical support, and explaining your issue.

Hopefully, you will find someone who will be able to quickly assist you and help to repair your device/your device’s connection. This video is also helpful.

How To Fix Smart TV Slow Internet Issues
Watch this video on YouTube.
How to fix smart TV slow internet issues

Step 2: Try to Connect to a Different Streaming Service

If your internet connection speed is fast enough for streaming video but your smart TV is still lagging, you may try to connect to a different streaming service in order to check if the issue persists.

YouTube and Netflix are generally dependable, so if those play smoothly and the image looks crisp, you can proceed to the next step.

If they do not play clearly, this is likely not the source of the problem. Contact the streaming service on which you experience buffering and lagging to complain.

It is recommended to mention that you have tried other streaming services without experiencing problems. If the lagging and buffering persist you might have to choose an alternative streaming service.

Step 3: Check the Connection Speed on Your Streaming Device

In order to check if the connection problems are originating from the streaming device itself, you will have to run a speed test on it. Each device is different, so you need to follow steps to your specific device. Here are a few examples:

  • Roku. Go to Settings > Network on the main menu, then select “Check connection”. Select “OK” after the check is done, then go on the right side of the page and look under “Internet download speed”.
  • Amazon Fire TV. Download Firefox for Fire TV and run the application. Then type “speed test” into the search box. Select the “Run Speed Test” button on the search results page, and wait for the test to complete. Check for results above “Mbps download”.
  • Apple TV. Download Speedtest by Ookla from the App Store. Run the application, and on the “Help us improve” prompt select “Do not allow”, then select “Go”. After the test is done, look for your results at the number under “Download Mbps”.
  • Chromecast. Download from the Google Play Store the app called SpeedCast. Run the application and hit the blue Cast button. After selecting your Chromecast, select the “Start Test”. You will find the results under the “Download” column.
  • Android TV. Follow the instructions above for Chromecast and select from the casting list your Android TV device. You may also alternately download from the Google Play Store the NetSpeed Test app. Run the application, then select “Test Download Speed.”

If your speed test results are 10 Mbps or more (ideally over 15 Mbps), then the source of your problem is not your streaming device’s connection speed.

Step 4: Check the Connection Speed of Your Modem

If you have an internet modem separate from your wireless router, the smart TV lagging issue may be caused by a slow connection from your modem.

In order to test the modem connection, locate the ethernet cable running between your modem and the router. Unplug the ethernet cable from the router, then plug it into a desktop PC or laptop.

Restart the modem and then search on Google for “internet speed test”. Hit the “Run Speed Test” button and compare the results with your provider’s advertised speeds. For smooth streaming, they should be around 15 Mbps.

If the test results show a slower speed but you are paying for faster internet (according to the contract with your service provider), contact their tech support and seek a resolution.

Step 5: Check the Connection Speed of Your Wi-Fi Router

If your modem’s internet speed is fine, but your smart TV is lagging, then your wireless router could be the weak link.

To check the connection speed of your router, run a speed test on a computer or phone within a foot or two of your smart TV. Again, for a smooth streaming experience the results under “Mbps download” should show at least 10-15 Mbps.

If it is worse than 10-15 Mbps while you are paying for faster service, you may need to buy a new Wi-Fi router. If results are within this range, you may have an issue with your smart TV/streaming device.

Step 6: Consider a New Smart TV

If you have ruled out issues with your internet speed, individual streaming services, and connection strength, you might need to upgrade to a new Android TV, Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, or Chromecast device.

Perhaps you have some faulty hardware, or your device is already older than a few years. Purchasing a new Smart TV will allow you to experience a smooth streaming experience assuming it does not face the same technical issues.

While there are many steps to consider when troubleshooting a lagging Smart TV, the most important thing to remember is that you may try one option, but you must continue to try all options until you find the one that works for your device. Do not grow impatient, and just take each portion step-by-step.

Related Questions

What are the Benefits of Having a Smart TV?

A Smart TV can connect directly to the internet without the need for a streaming device or a set-top box. Most Smart TVs provide available entertainment content in their built-in app store. This allows viewers to simply download the content most relevant to them.

The content could be based on subscription services such as Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Netflix, or streaming on-demand content from various apps like ITV Hub, BBC iPlayer, My5 and All 4. Some smart TV models can also connect to your tablet or smartphone.

Smart TVs, similar to smart home devices and smartphones, offer support for a wide range of apps and internet connectivity. This provides access to a world of new entertainment options, from streaming video on Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix to checking social media, playing games, and controlling connected gadgets in your smart house, including devices that work with Google Home and Alexa compatible products.

Many new Smart TV models now include voice recognition apps, such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, for searching programs and switching channels.

Most of the Smart TV models available on the market today will work with the smart speakers, and a few will offer the same functionality built-in.

There is a growing trend for Smart TVs to integrate Smart Home features. Many models are compatible with various IoT connected devices, including door locks, lights, and sensors. Some Smart TV models even include dedicated dashboards for controlling all the Smart devices in your home. 

How Does a Smart TV Connect to the Internet?

Your smart TV can connect to the internet in two main ways: with an ethernet cable or wirelessly.

  • All smart TV models come with built-in Wi-Fi. You can connect the device to your home wireless network through network settings or during the setup of your smart TV.
  • You can use alternatively a wired connection and connect your smart TV to your router via an ethernet cable. The ethernet connection tends to be more stable.

A smart TV will provide streaming video by using your home network. It may use either built-in Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet to stay connected to the internet. Most current smart TV models support the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. Older models may still use the previous 802.11n standard. 

If you have a larger home, you should double-check your Wi-Fi coverage. If the smart TV is in the basement and your Wi-Fi router is on the second floor, for instance, the TV set may be unable to stream video without experiencing lag issues. 

If your Smart TV is not receiving a wireless signal strong enough, there are a few options to deal with the problem. A good Wi-Fi router supporting 802.11ac could solve the issue if your current router is older than three years. You may also try adding a Wi-Fi range extender such as the one provided by Netgear.

Mesh routers provide another option. They are able to extend Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home. The Linksys Velop and Netgear Orbi are two such devices.

Which Companies Manufacture Smart TVs?

Today, every major TV manufacturer company offers Smart TVs. Nowadays, the trend is to make every TV set “smart.” High-end models offer more navigation features, including gesture controls and voice interaction.

Budget sets from Chinese manufacturers offer at least some smart features. Among the biggest Smart TV manufacturers are Panasonic, LG, Hisense, LG, Samsung, Philips, Sony, Sharp, Vizio, Toshiba, and TCL. 

What Do You Need to Supplement a Smart TV?

In order to get the most of your smart TV, you need a fast internet connection. On-demand movies and shows use your internet connection for streaming to your smart TV.

The stronger the speed, the less buffering and lagging issues you will have and the smoother viewing experience you will have as well.

You may also consider other Smart Home devices which could be paired with your Smart TV. By building your Smart Home, your life of convenience will be set up little by little as your peace of mind increases as well.