Decrease your Roku’s playback resolution to save bandwidth

From time to time when I’m watching baseball on my Roku, I’ll get a lot of buffering and, in extreme cases, a message stating that I may have insufficient bandwidth. If you have the same problem, the best fix for this to to decrease your Roku’s playback resolution. Or if you’re subject to a data cap, decreasing your resolution helps you stay under that too.

The picture will suffer, but I’d rather watch a lower quality picture than none at all. You may also need to resize your Internet connection, but you can do this trick immediately, and for free.

This trick will also work for Netflix or any other type of streaming video on a Roku.

From the Roku’s home screen, navigate to “Settings,” then to “Display Type.” Your options are 4:3 standard, 16:9 widescreen, 720p HDTV, and 1080p HDTV, in increasing order of demand. Since I have my Roku connected to a 720p HDTV, that’s what I normally choose, but if I step down to 16:9 widescreen, the stream uses a bit less of your Internet connection, and depending on your TV, stepping down can have a limited effect on the picture quality anyway.

Internet video tends to be compressed to a high enough degree that you never get full 720p quality anyway, let alone 1080p, and most TVs to a pretty good job of upscaling. So this workaround may provide some benefit to you. If you step down from 1080p to 720p you probably won’t notice at all. If I step down from 720p to 16:9, I barely notice a difference. I wouldn’t want to step down to 4:3 unless my connection just couldn’t handle 16:9. But if the alternative is no video at all, 4:3 is certainly better than that. I found a slightly fuzzier picture that was still moving and playing audio beat a jerky, sharper picture.

So that’s how you decrease your Roku’s playback resolution. I hope this helped you.