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Internet Bandwidth and CPU Requirements for Viewing Internet Videos such as TV Shows and Movies on your HDTV

Practical Usability Test

When you select a TV show or movie on the Internet, a stream of data flows to your computer as the video is played. There is a good way to test how well your Internet connection and your computer can stream video to your HDTV. First make sure of two things:

  • Your computer’s display is set to a resolution of at least 1280 x 720. A higher resolution works just as well for this test.
  • You have installed Adobe Flash version 10.1 or later. Adobe Flash is available at http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer. Flash is commonly used to deliver video from the Internet and we consider it to be necessary.
Then play a video from a website on your computer's regular display (normally a monitor or laptop display) and select Full-Screen mode.

Watch for a minute or two to make sure that there are no drop-outs or significant stuttering. Do this for several sites, making sure to expand the video to full-screen each time. If you can, check sites that offer both Standard Definition (SD) and High Definition (HD) streams. Some systems have acceptable performance in SD, but not in HD.

If you see good performance when streaming SD but not when streaming HD videos, this is the performance you can expect when you connect to an HDTV. Many people will find SD perfectly acceptable (much of the programming on televisions is done in SD).

If you see consistently good performance, your computer and connection are capable of supporting streaming to your HDTV at the resolution you determined works for your computer display.

If your streaming performance falls short, you can check the technical requirements below to see what needs to be upgraded to achieve good streaming HD performance.

Technical Requirements

Internet connection speed
For Standard Definition Videos: 1Mbps
For DVD-quality Videos: 3Mbps
For HD (720p) Videos: 5Mbps

Minimum Processor (CPU) Requirement
Streaming resolution CPU
480p @ 24fps (frames per second) Intel Pentium IV 2.3GHz
AMD Athlon 64 2800
720p @ 24-30fps Intel Pentium IV 3.0GHz
AMD Athlon 64 3400

Any dual-core processor manufactured since 2008 will handle 720p with no problem, with two exceptions:
  • Low power machines (that consume little energy) with a CPU speed under 1.8GHz, and
  • Netbooks unless they include the Broadcom BCM70012 or Nvidia ION Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) for video acceleration.

To find your computer’s CPU description, go to Start → Programs → Accessories → System Tools → System Information

To find your computer’s GPU description, go to Start → Control Panel → [Appearance and Personalization] → Display Settings → Advanced Settings → Adapter

Physical Connection

You must connect your computer to your HDTV, either via HDMI, DVI-D or VGA.

HDMI
The easiest way to connect a computer to an HDTV is via an HDMI cable. Check to see whether your computer and HDTV both have an HDMI port. If they do, connect an HDMI cable between available HDMI ports on your computer and your HDTV. The HDMI connection carries both video and audio signals.

DVI-D
If your computer doesn’t have an HDMI port, it may have a DVI-D port. If it does, you can connect a DVI to HDMI cable between this port and an available HDMI port on your HDTV. Then connect an appropriate audio cable from the computer to the HDTV’s audio in jack.
The computer will typically have a 3.5mm headset/speaker jack. The HDTV will typically have either a 3.5mm stereo mini jack or a pair of RCA audio input jacks.

VGA
Most HDTVs have a VGA port.
To connect a computer to an HDTV via a VGA port, connect a VGA cable between the computer’s and the HDTV’s VGA ports. Then connect an appropriate audio cable from the computer to the HDTV’s audio in jack.
The computer will typically have a 3.5mm headset/speaker jack. The HDTV will typically have either a 3.5mm stereo mini jack or a pair of RCA audio input jacks.



 
 

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001248   2010-07-23