6 Tricks for a Better Netflix Experience

While the recent price increase of the Netflix standard plan by $1 a month ($8.99 to $9.99) might not seem like a big deal, it certainly can be if you feel you're not using your subscription to its fullest potential. Here are some way to greatly improve your Netflix experience.

1. Access the "Hidden" Stream Manager

One of the most frustrating aspects of Netflix is you're often at the mercy of the quality and speed of your Internet connection. Fortunately, there is a trick to change the quality of your stream to avoid any buffering issues. When streaming Netflix content from a desktop or laptop, access the little-known stream manager and use the following keyboard shortcuts to your advantage.

Control + Alt + Shift + S

This will allow you to access the control panel for your video. You can then change the bitrate and CDN (Content Delivery Network) of the stream you're watching. If you're having buffering issues, select the lowest bitrate. Or at the very least, select both available bitrates and your video will stream in-between both selections.

Control + Alt + Shift + D

This allows you to view important statistics about your stream. Things like bitrate, buffering speed, and framerate are displayed. Check out these stats after you change your bitrate to see how it impacts overall performance.

Control + Alt + Shift + L

This will display a record of all the changes you've made to your settings so you can easily track your progress in getting a stream speed that works for you.

2. Reactivate App to Kill Buffering

If you view Netflix via a Smart TV, game console, or Blu-ray player, and are having recurring buffering issues, try deactivating the Netflix app, and then reactivate it again. According to the folks at Netflix, a handy little trick to quickly make this happen is to press the following sequence on your device's controller or remote: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Up, Up, Up, Up.

After pressing this sequence select, "Sign Out" or "Deactivate," then simply follow the on-screen instructions to sign back into your Netflix account. In many cases this should solve your buffering issues, especially if you're receiving the "AIP-701" connection error.

3. Know the Right Time to Watch

If you can wait and do your binge watching late in the evening, or in the early morning, your streaming experience will be noticeably better, according to Digital Trends. From their in-depth research, they "discovered that the biggest factor influencing stream quality is time of day, and whether that time falls under typical peak hours for watching."

4. Rate Everything You Watch

By getting into the habit of rating everything you watch on Netflix, the service can better understand the programming that you enjoy. Also, it's worth the effort to complete your "Taste Profile" to better help Netflix make selections that interest you.

5. The Best Netflix Viewing Guide… EVER

Another one of the complaints that Netflix users have is trying to figure out which programs come and go each month, along with weeding through the large amount of content. I recently discovered a fantastic solution to this problem via an amazingly thorough Reddit forum titled NetflixBestOf. It currently has over 287,000 readers and is chock full of information to make your viewing experience more enjoyable.

6. Consider a Netflix Unblocker

While this tip might be not be for everyone, if you're the techy-type, it could be right up your alley. Did you know that Netflix offers different content to different countries? You can tap into that content by using a free Netflix unblocker service like TVUnblock.com or Hola!, which helps you change the DNS address settings of your device to point to their servers. Once this is done, some of your web browsing will be routed to a proxy server which modifies your location and gives you access to Netflix content beyond your borders.

How are you getting the most out of your Netflix subscription? Is the $1/month increase going to be a deal-breaker for you?

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