Why is streaming from Apple TV to my television so dodgy?

Anonymous May 8, 2014
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I bought an Apple TV for use with my Mac and iPhoto where there are great slideshows. My big issue with Apple TV when it comes to playing what’s on my computer is buffering, whether it’s video, music or a slideshow. It takes forever to get anything going and on top of that, when it does start to play it stops mid stream and buffers again. My internet connection is with Charter TV and I’m using a router. Do I need to attach my computer directly to my new 60 in Smart TV?

  1. Mark Oxner
    May 14, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Try using a network cable to connect your Apple TV to your router. You'll be surprised at how much better that works.

  2. Tim B
    May 14, 2014 at 4:57 am

    I'd personally blame the router before other things, but I'm not sure what your network situation is. Is the router old? Overworked? Has it been restarted in a while?

    Generally I find routers last about two years at most, but that's because I burn through them. They're left on constantly and before long become less reliable, slower and start to crash a lot more. You may want to consider the health of your router as being a contributing factor. I had serious problems streaming anything to my TV via uPnP until the day I bought a brand new router, and it's been plain sailing ever since.

    The other problem could be poor signal, possibly caused by a neighbour using a device which interferes with your network. Other routers that broadcast on the same channel (you can change this in router setup) are usually the biggest contributor to this problem. Try changing that setting to see if it helps.

    Finally make sure both your AirPlay source device (your Macbook, iPhone etc) is on the same network as your AppleTV. The technology uses a combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, with the latter providing more bandwidth for better video playback. You could also try reducing the distance, if you think it might be a contributing factor.

    Failing this, if it's a new Apple TV you could always pop into an Apple store or use your 90-days complimentary telephone support to try and resolve the issue. If it's a second hand older Apple TV, that might actually be the problem.

  3. Oron J
    May 8, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    As Jan points out, if both devices are networked via WiFi then you're going to struggle (more so if other devices are also using WiFi at the same time). For HD content, even a good signal may not be enough for trouble-free streaming, and if the signal is poor then any streaming is going to be dodgy. The best solution would be to have an all wired (networked cabling, or if not possible, powerline) will give you much better results.

    It's also possible that the network settings on one or more of the devices need to be tweaked, but by the sound of it, your network is basically fine, so gains are likely to be minimal.

  4. Jan F
    May 8, 2014 at 10:22 am

    How are they networked together, are you using WiFi for both?

    Then my first guess would be that one of the devices has a very bad signal quality or strength and is therefor struggling to send or receive the data (relocate the device).
    Another option would be other devices on the network. WiFi is a shared bandwidth so if other devices are doing "all sorts of things" it can slow down the connection between your Mac and Apple TV.

    One simple test would be to connect both to the router via a cable and test it. If you are still experiencing buffering then something else is probably causing the issue e.g. some aggressive anti-virus on your Mac that is scanning all in- and outgoing data.