Are your pipes large enough? (And no, that’s not a personal question!)
There’s been an explosion of interest in streaming movies and TV shows using devices such as Amazon’s own Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Google Chromecast, Roku, and Apple TV. If your household is adding one or more of these great items to your entertainment world, you need to be aware of a potential problem with your home network. It’s possible to badly overload your home network with too many streaming devices all competing for bandwidth at the same time.
In a nutshell, bandwidth refers to the ability of your home network to download and upload data from your Internet service provider, and to move data around between your devices. In some ways, you can compare your home network to the network of water pipes that carry water throughout your house. The bigger the pipe, the more capacity for carrying water, and the smaller the pipe, the more restrictive the water flow. In a similar fashion, the components of your home network– your cable modem, phone company modem, or fiber-optic modem, in combination with your router– have much of an effect on your home network’s ability to move data.
Internet service providers such as Verizon, Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner, and AT&T all provide network connections at varying data capacities, and most people are aware of the fact that streaming requires a decent high-speed Internet connection. But what many are not aware of is that the demand on a home network by streaming devices is cumulative; hence, two TV sets in different areas of the house, both equipped with Fire TV, turned on, and streaming from Netflix, can be expected to put roughly twice the load of a single set equipped with Fire TV.
Add the effects of tablets or game consoles which may also be doing their own streaming, and any household network can begin to show serious signs of overload. Here at the head wizard’s household, we have a Fire TV console in the master bedroom and a Fire TV Stick at the living room set. Add to that two Fire HDX tablets used by adults plus 10-year-old godson and the neighbors’ kid playing Minecraft on their Kindle Fire HD and Apple iPad tablets, and we can begin to see visible interruptions and lags in streaming movies or TV shows, particularly around rush-hour on the Internet, the 6 to 10 PM slot on the east coast.
The most effective solution to this problem is to try to minimize the number of devices that are simultaneously streaming on your home network. Beyond that, you want to make sure you have a decent high-speed router, and if the delays become noticeably annoying, you may want to look into the cost of an Internet capacity upgrade from your Internet service provider.
Usinng Household Profiles on your Fire tablet
A major addition to the newest Fire products is the ability to create household profiles, letting you share a single Fire HD among multiple members of your household. (The improvement is actually a part of the new Fire 4.0 operating system, so if you own any 4th-generation Fire such as the HD-6 or HD-7, or any 3rd-generation Fire that has received the Fire 4.0 OS update, you can make use of this feature.) You can add one adult and up to four children as members with their own profiles. With household profiles implemented, the carousel, favorites, and content that each household member sees are unique to that individual.
Amazon has taken the time to provide a short help video explaining household profiles. Go to www.amazon.com/help and click ‘Kindle, Fire and Echo’ at the left, then click ‘Fire HD and HDX tablets’ at the right. At the next screen that appears, under ‘Getting started,’ click ‘Fire tablet help videos,’ then scroll down and click the ‘Household Profiles’ link.
The steps are a bit lengthy, but worth the time in my opinion. Once you’ve set up household profiles, you can share books that you’ve purchased with other family members who are in your household.
ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM THE HEAD WIZARD
We are working at making more of our e-books available as printed editions. Currently, our printed editions include our Kindle Fire HD Tips, Tricks, and Traps series in editions for the HD, HDX, and Paperwhite, our Fire TV Stick Made Easy, and our Android Tablets Tips, Tricks, and Traps. Click THIS LINK for details on these or any of our books.
Click any book under the ‘Books’ menu for details about that book. Click the ‘Our Book Readers’ link at the right if you’ve already purchased one of our books and are here seeking the ‘BONUS’ content described within the book.
(c) 2013 Jones-Mack Technology Services