Excessive buffering on wireless G network

Howdy all, 

I've been having trouble with excessive buffering on my TabloTV want to see if anybody else has experienced anything. 

I am using an ancient wireless G router. (It's a linksys, WRT54GL I believe.) I'm aware that could be my problem and an upgrade could solve it but before I go out and spend the cash I want to see if anybody else has had issues that were cleared up with an upgrade or if there's maybe something else I can do (change security settings, upgrade router firmware etc. etc.)

Using the set up my living room with a Roku 2XD. It's only about 15 feet from the router which is in my sunroom. First, the TabloTV takes several minutes to load guide data and then another several minutes to start playing the video once its started. Playback of LiveTV seems to be okay. There was some start and stop but not too much. Playback of a recorder video was just about unwatchable. It was buffering every 30-60 seconds. This was at 1080i.

I downgraded the recording from 1080i to 720p and moved to the computer at the far end of the house. The buffering was far worse. It pretty much didn't work. 

I know I can (and should) upgrade to a wireless N. But I'm not sure that would solve my problem as I should be able to get at least 1 device to stream through wireless G. Even when I do an internet speed test on computer at the other end of the house I get 10-12Mbs pass through.

I might try changing the port the TabloTV is connected to in order to see if that's an issue. Not sure if changing security settings or updating the router firmware would help either.

Any thoughts before I shell out money for a new router? What routers have worked for others?



I have had the same issue since I started using tablo.  I switched to a dual band wireless N router, as the consensus from techie folks on the forum was that the 2.4ghz channels are too crowded and a 5ghz channel would have less interference and work better. I now have my tablo on a 5ghz channel along with my dual band roku 2 (and set to record at 720p)

The good news is that it does work better.  playback of a recorded show is on my roku 2 in nearly flawless, but i still have the buffering issue with live TV once I start to FF or RW on all roku devices (i have 3).  I have tried different channels on my router, but no noticeable difference.  i have also noticed that my roku 2 works better with tablo than my roku LT when it comes to playback of recorded show.  BTW, my router is an asus rt-n66u.


Thanks millerprm,

That’s a big help. I can understand a little buffering when rewinding and forwarding. That even happens with Netflix/Hulu/Aereo at times.

But its also a little depressing to hear. Neither of my Rokus will work on the 5ghz channel. I’m stuck at 2.4 unless I want to upgrade both – which just seems like a lot to get the Tablo to work. New router, two new rokus.

Has any body had any luck getting Tablo to work on wireless G network?

2.4 Ghz works fine in most situations.  I use it to talk to my Roku 3 and my tablets.  I do use a Netgear Nighthawk AC router which does N and AC on both 2.4 and 5.0 Ghz.    Though at the moment, I would hesitate to recommend a Netgear AC router for the Tablo.  It has an issue where it will pick a device (usually my iPad) and have it no longer see the Tablo until the router is rebooted.  

Thanks snowcat. I’ve heard the Netgear firmware can be buggy. It sounds like you’re able to get a good connection from a more recent router using N protocol on 2.4Ghz.

 If my problems are all about the router  I can live with that. I need to upgrade anyway. But I’ve heard that the old Roku 2 XD wireless client is capped at 65Mbps. That should be enough I would think to get a 1080i signal through but I thought that about my current router.  I don’t want to upgrade to find out that the Roku 2 XD wireless client can’t get enough bandwidth no matter how much I throw at it.

Have you heard of anybody having an issue with an old G router?

@RFSox The only test case that comes to my mind is @millerprm, and she’s already chimed in. I remember that she had quite a few pains during setup with the old G router, but it sounds like her results have been much better with a dual-band router.

I’m sure you’re aware that we’re currently focused on the most recent generation of Rokus (That being the 1, 2, 3 and HDMI stick) so the XD series isn’t a ‘supported’ device just yet. That being said, we’ve seen some varying results with it - but I think it’s safe to say that in this case, the bottleneck is coming from your router, and not your Roku. Hope this helps.
Hi guys. I wanted to update you on my testing. Needless to say I had an interesting experience and I'd like to glean any knowledge from the community that might be out there. Maybe @snowcat would have some insight.

To review quickly.  My set up is an old Linkysys WRT54 in the sun room at the front of the house. Living room TV with a Roku 2 XD about 15 feet away. The sun room and living are separated by a small hallway and two sets of open french doors. So very close but not line of sight with the router. I also had a laptop computer (I usually keep it at the other end of the house in the kitchen) and an old standard def TV upstairs with a roku LT (2450) on it. 

My first test was to see how things worked when I set the Tablo to record at 1080i -- this is the highest recording option on my Tablo. I don't have the option to record at 1080p. 

I recorded two episodes of the Big Bang Theory back to back from 7-8 p.m. I also recorded the football game from 7:30 to 10:30. I also recorded an episode of Elementary the day before at 1080i.

Playback on my living room TV was interesting. The first episode of BBT constantly buffered. Every 20-30 seconds. I couldn't even get through the first few minutes of the show. Playback of the second episode of BBT was almost perfect, up until the last 4 minutes of overrun. I watched the entire program without a problem. The football game buffering was a problem. Elementary played back on the Roku 2 XD without a problem.

Watching live at 1080i was hit or miss. I couldn't really watch the football game but I had no trouble watching the live news at 11 p.m.

To test things further I brought the laptop into the living room (siting on the couch the laptop has direct line of sight with the router). At this point I was able to stream 2 feeds of 1080i perfectly. One to the Roku 2 XD and one to the laptop. The episode of Big Bang that I couldn't play on the Roku played fine on the laptop. And at the same time I was able to play a 1080i live stream to the Roku without a problem. 

These weren't super long tests. Usually about 5 minutes because when I had a problem it showed up right away. 

So then I brought the Roku LT down stairs and hooked it up in the living room. The device outputs at 720p only. But it played everything fine! Including the shows the Roku 2 XD didn't. 

Like I said, strange that the Roku 2 XD worked on some programs but not others. And that the Roku LT seemed to work on everything. I can't, for the life of me figure out why and that bothers me. Is it a problem with the Roku XD? The router? The recordings from the Tablo?

So, my next step was to record at 720p. This went better. Live and recorded TV seemed to work on the Roku 2 XD. I tested a variety of live and recorded shows on different stations for 15 minutes at a time. The only problem I had was with sports shows. It seemed to buffered every 4-6 minutes depending on how much motion there was on the image.

Further tests on the laptop and upstairs revealed I had problems buffering there as well. Pretty much unwatchable at both locations. This was at 720p. Not that much different from 1080i.

I expect that's a problem with throughput. A get a signal but I'm farther away so the through put isn't as good. 

It's curious to me that the Roku LT (2450) would work better at 1080i than the Roku 2 XD. And that the Roku 2 XD would work on some shows but not others. 

I also have an app that tells me what wireless channels are crowded in my area. I was operating on channel 11 and there was a lot of interference. Last night I switched to channel 1 which was a lot cleaner. I'm going to try that out this week and see if things get better on channel 1. 

To sum up, I've seen some improvement on playback by reducing the feed. This makes me think that upgrading to an N router might help a lot over my current 54Mbps wireless. But there are some random anomalies, such as the variance between the Roku 2 XD and the LT that give me pause. It could be as simply as the LT having a more sensitive wireless client. Before I go out and purchase any new networking equipment to try and make this work better I want to be sure that there isn't something going on with how the Roku 2 XD handles the stream or may its one of the tuners in the Tablo that's causing random shows to not work depending on which tuner is in play.

Any input would be appreciated. 

Just to clarify, there are two recording settings (not counting 480p which I doubt anyone uses), 720p and 1080p.

If you have a TV station that broadcasts in 720p, it doesn’t matter which recording setting is used.  It still records at 720p.  

If you have a TV station that broadcasts in 1080i, then the settings do make a difference. A 1080i show recorded at 720p down-rezzes the resolution and converts it to progressive.  A 1080i show recorded at 1080p keeps the resolution and converts it to progressive.

So 720p should be the best recording option if you have limited bandwidth.  I am glad you looked at changing your wireless channel, because that should help as well.

I can understand the Rokus having problems.  The older ones aren’t as solid as the Roku 3.  I am more curious on why the laptop is struggling so much at times.  It doesn’t sound like it has a great network connection, at least from a distance.

Thanks @snowcat. I’ll check the recording settings when I get home. I know the broadcast – except for Fox – is 1080i.

The laptop seems to work much better closer to the router. It’s when I get to the back of the house – its an old house, lots of plaster walls and such to pass through, that it struggles. 

I haven’t tried the laptop upstairs. I might do that as well and see how it works. I also order the wife a new tablet so I’ll see how that works. 

I’m more curious why the Roku 2 XD has problems with some programs but not others. If it was every program I’d understand. But every other program seems okay. I also find it funny that the Roku LT (old model, 2450) works better. 

I am using a mismash of old stuff. I’d like to be able to get the tablet and the Roku2 XD working at 720p without problems. 

If upgrading to a wireless N router would accomplish that I’ll take the plunge. As long as I can do a little now and a little later. But I don’t want to go down the path where I upgrade the wireless, then the Rokus, then the TV, then run ethernet through out the house etc. etc. 

Would a wireless N router help me get better bandwidth at the back of the house?

One of the better benefits of wireless N is a larger coverage area.  Wireless AC is even bigger.  You might want to look at an AC router if the price is reasonable.  

Thanks. Neither Roku uses AC. Would having an AC router even help?

AC is still backwards compatible with N and G, and it has a stronger signal (multiple antennas).  It should reach all parts of your house easily.   I did a test where I took my Roku remote control (which uses wi-fi) outside my house and could still control my TV from there.

It just depends on what you want to spend.  Wireless N routers can be pretty cheap, while wireless AC routers are usually over $100 and can be a lot higher.

I don’t mind spending a little extra if I know its going to work. I just want to make sure there’s an actual benefit to going AC vs. N given the wireless clients I have. 

@RFSox I’m just echoing @snowcat here, but it’s really relative on how you want your network to be set up. We don’t officially recommend any routers, but we do think the reviews over at Wirecutter are pretty valuable in terms of the insight they give average consumers. Might be worth checking out.

@RFSox great tests… reading your results and the past posts about older Roku issues (can’t recall which models) I would question if the 2xd can handle high bitrate video segments. Maybe some more research on that front can help… or just ask the community here if anyone has a flawlessly working 2xd… I don’t have a 2xd.

Yes, the MIMO antenna tech of wireless N and newer is going to improve range… but so will wireless G repeaters, as will reducing wireless interference at the Roku. I used aluminum foil to shield a device from peripheral interference once (making an omni-directional antenna directional… it worked). 

Also for more info, you can view the Roku info splash screen about the current video’s stream demand vs. available network bandwidth by using your remote to enable this feature: home x5, rewind x3, fasf forward x2. It’s interesting info but never lead to anything really helpful for me… maybe it’ll be insightful for you.

@Thumbs. Thanks for the suggestions. The switch to channel 1 seems to have helped. Though it took several hours to see any results. the 2XD doesn’t seem to have any problems with new recordings at 720p on the living room TV. We’ve watched a couple recorded and live shows with minimal problems. Still a little buffering coming in and out of commercials from time to time, but nothing that I would consider limiting. 

Still the Roku 2XD will play some recordings at 1080p but not others. So maybe its something to do with the recordings. I haven’t gone back and tried to re-testing on 1080p to see how consistent that is because 720p is more than enough for me right now as long as I can get it on the living room TV. 

Still need to do some testing on the 720p setting upstairs. But that’s an old standard def TV so is lower priority. That might necessitate a new router. Which I’ll need eventually to accommodate the wife’s new iPad anyhow. 

Just wanted to throw out an  update for those curious. 

I purchased a new Asus AC 1900 router. I can now watch tablo on the PC at the back of the house, upstairs, just about anywhere fine. Even in 1080p. 

The streaming on the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S (AC client) with the AC router is insane. Skipping commercials is incredibly fast. Almost zero buffering time. 

Coincidentally my internet connection speed is 3X faster on the PC but only twice as fast on the Roku 2XD (about 15-22 Mbs) Still, its having trouble streaming 1080p from the Tablo. There’s constant buffering problems. This is from a program recorded back in August. I might try again with a new program to see if that helps but i’m thinking the wireless client int he Roku 2XD is limiting me to 720p. Although I guess it could be the bitrate too. 

Bottomline, for those out there using a Roku 2XD I wouldn’t expect it to handle a 1080p stream. Upgrading to a new Roku 3 is probably in my future.

FYI only, Roky 3 is $20 off right now!