If you own an IPTV set top box such as the popular MAG 250, MAG 254, MAG 322 or the MAG 410, you may be one of the users who frequently experiences picture freezing or slow channel loading.
It’s a nuisance as it can spoil your television entertainment viewing pleasure and if persistent, makes watching TV shows and movies practically impossible.
Constant freezing and slow loading breaks up the show and you end up switching off.
But don’t give up as there’s usually a few simple check you can do to resolve this problem, and get your MAG box working to optimum performance and view shows with seamless streaming and zero freezing.
In this article, we’re going to take you through all the necessary steps required to fully diagnose why your MAG box is freezing and what you can do to rectify the problem.
Read on to find out how to fix this issue or choose from one of the following chapters that’s suits your needs.
Check Your Internet Speed
In many cases, slow loading, constant channel buffering or freezing is caused by a poor quality or slow intent connection speed.
So it’s recommended that you check the internet connection in your home first to make sure you have sufficient bandwidth to stream live IPTV pictures to your MAG box.
If you don’t, there’s no point in running any further diagnostics on your MAG box if your broadband is simply unsuitable for streaming.
So firstly, if you have a desktop PC or Mac connected to your home Wi-Fi network or directly via ethernet, use an online speed check tool such as Speedtest.net
If you only have mobile devices such as a phone or tablet, then download and install a suitable app to your device such as the SpeedTest app by Ookla.
Once you are ready to run a speed test on a desktop PC or Mac, laptop or mobile device, let’s get started.
Run the test and see what the resulting report tells you.
Ideally, you need a “Download Speed” of at least 2-4 Mbps, but in an ideal world, we would recommend a download speed of 5 Mbps or above to be able to stream pictures smoothly and without interruption.
If the results of your speed test are poor, we recommend that you speak to your internet service provider about improving your broadband connection or alternatively, upgrade to a better package or change broadband provider altogether.
If however your internet connection speed seems to be good, let’s move on to the next step.
Reduce Wi-Fi Interference
Many people do not realise that Wi-Fi is transmitted over simple radio frequencies.
These frequencies are very susceptible to interference, especially if there are lots of other Wi-Fi signals in close proximity that may be running on the same frequency or frequencies close to yours.
People who live in apartment blocks for example, tend to suffer from Wi-Fi signal interference very often.
With dozens of neighbours all running their own personal Wi-Fi networks, you could potentially be living in a sea of Wi-Fi networks all battling with each other for signals clarity.
So it’s no surprise that signal interference can be a real nuisance.
Thankfully, there’s a few things you can try to improve your situation.
Change Wi-Fi Channel
If you have direct administrator access to your Wi-Fi router, you can change the Wi-fi channel your network uses.
By doing so, you could select a channel that experience far less interference and get a better quality signal to your MAG box.
Most Wi-Fi routers allow admin access via a browser.
If you are unsure how to do this, check with your router manufacturers user manual and follow the instructions.
Switching Wi-Fi channels is actually a lot easier than it sounds and may help improve Wi-Fi speeds in your home.
You may have to experiment with a few new channels to see which works best.
Many Wi-Fi admin system actually show you the local interference, so should give you a good idea of which channel to switch to.
But in many cases, most Wi-Fi routers automatically select the best channel to use so this may not resolve your buffering problems.
Upgrade Your Wi-Fi Router
If your Wi-Fi router is an older model, it may not be up to the job.
Older models tend to transmit at slower rates whilst newer models offer far better strength signals using transmission rates of around 450Mbps or above.
Newer models will feature more antennas to help produce a stronger signal, whilst older models may only have a single transmitter that struggles to do the job.
If you suspect your Wi-Fi router may be obsolete, it might be time to trade it in for a newer model.
Change Wi-Fi Antenna
If you’re totally convinced that your home Wi-Fi network is stable and solid, then the issues may be with the Wi-Fi antenna used by the MAG box.
Many models of MAG box come with an integrated internal Wi-Fi antenna and the quality of these antennas is not particularly great.
Even in a home with reasonably strong Wi-Fi radio coming from the router, any degradation in the signal to noise ratio can cause some MAG boxes to struggle to get a good enough streaming signal and thus, leads to stuttering images, loops in playback or worse, no picture at all!
If that’s the case, you may be better off purchasing an external USB Wi-Fi antenna to supplement the existing internal antenna to help improve Wi-Fi signal reception.
But in truth, the most foolproof connection is a direct ethernet cable, discussed in a later chapter.
If you’re already using an enternal USB Wi-Fi antenna, then there are a few checks you can run.
Firstly, make sure it’s seated correctly and fully into the USB port either at the front or rear of your MAG box.
Also, ensure the dongle is compatible with your Wi-Fi network speed and radio frequencies.
If it’s an older Wi-Fi dongle, it might be wise to upgrade it to a better model that can handle a wider range of Wi-Fi signals and speeds.
Any incompatibilities will undoubtedly cause lag.
Switch to an Ethernet Connection
If you want to completely eliminate issues with a poor Wi-Fi router or signal interference whilst dramatically improving network speeds, then a direct ethernet connection is the best solution by far.
There’s no compensation for good old fashioned cables when it comes to a solid, fast and reliable network connection.
Wi-Fi may be very convenient when using mobile devices but for set top boxes like the MAG 250, 254, 322 or 410, it’s just going to sit on your media centre.
So why use a Wi-Fi connection when a direct ethernet connection will be far more reliable, faster and not suffer from any interference?
If you have any doubts about the quality of your home Wi-Fi network, we recommend switching to ethernet to completely eliminate these concerns.
Ethernet is far more stable and reliable than any kind of Wi-Fi connection – period.
Many people do not like trailing cables around their home, but if you want the very best performance from your MAG box, use ethernet!
Here’s what you need to do…
Firstly, you’ll need a good quality RJ45 cable that is long enough to run from the back of your MAG box to your Wi-Fi router.
The closer the router is to the MAG box, the better as this will mean shorter cables and less mess.
Your first step is to connect one end of the RJ45 cable to the rear Ethernet port at the back of your MAG set top box.
Then connect the other end of the cable to a spare Ethernet port on the back of the router.
Once connected at both ends, switch on your TV set and the MAG set top box.
Wait for the MAG box to fully boot and then, go to the Home screen and carry out the following steps:
- press the left arrow button on your remote control, scroll across to “Settings” and press “OK”
- then press the down arrow button on your remote to highlight “Network” and press “OK”
- on the next screen select “Wired (Ethernet)” and press “OK”
- the select “Auto (DHCP)” and press “OK”
Once you’ve complete these steps, restart your MAG set top box for the changes to fully take effect.
After your MAG box has fully rebooted, try watching a channel which had previously been susceptible to freezing or slow loading and see if the situation has improved.
In most cases, changing to an ethernet connection should show a marked improvement.
If not, there could be a few other outstanding issues to resolve.
Use Ethernet Powerline Adapters
If your router is just too far away from the MAG box, and having ethernet cables running across your room is simply not an option, there’s a very good alternative.
Ethernet powerline adapters are a quick and easy way of having a “wired” connection without the wires!
Two little boxes plug straight into your power outlets and use your existing electrical system to transmit the signal just like a regular wired ethernet router would.
One powerline adapter needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet near your broadband router, whilst the other into an outlet close to the MAG box.
You then pair the two powerline adapters by pressing a button on each, hook up the ethernet cables from the router and MAG box to the adapters and you’re ready to go.
A wired connection with no trailing cables!
Changing Buffer Size
If you’ve ran all the above tests, made changes to your Wi-Fi set up and have even switched to ethernet and are still not seeing any marked improvements, then the only outstanding issue that will be causing picture freezing or buffering is the settings on your MAG box itself.
It’s quite common for users to fiddle with buffer settings without really understanding the implications and actually make the situation worse.
On slower internet connection speeds for example, MAG boxes will understandably need to buffer more data before playing pictures.
Whilst on faster connections, buffering or pre-loading data really isn’t necessary.
If these settings are wrongly configured, it will greatly affect your MAG boxes ability to play content quickly, smoothly and consistently.
So depending on your Wi-Fi or ethernet network and broadband connection speeds, you may need to change your settings.
If your network is fast, you don’t need to buffer much data, if any at all.
But if your network is sluggish, you may need to buffer more data.
Freezing occurs because the MAG set top box hasn’t managed to buffer sufficient data in order to playback the content smoothly.
So we need to make a change to the MAG box buffer size.
If slow channel loading is occurring yet your network speed is fast, then your buffer is clearly set far too high and needs reducing.
In order to make changes to your buffer size, follow these steps:
- press the left arrow button on your remote and scroll to “Settings” and press “OK”
- then press the down arrow button to highlight “Advanced Settings” and press “OK”
- with the left or right arrow buttons, change the buffer length in seconds to suit
- when done, press “OK” to save your changes
Choosing the correct buffer size is not an exact science, so some experimentation and common sense may be required.
If for example your buffer was set to zero seconds and your internet connection is slow and pictures were freezing, you may have to increase it significantly.
Whilst if your buffer was set high and your internet connection is fairly fast, it probably needs reducing by quite some margin or eliminating altogether.
Experiment with a few options until you find the right balance.
With these fixes you should be able to resolve slow loading or frozen pictures on your MAG set top box.
These fixes can be used on all models including MAG 250, 254, 322 and 410.
There is no way to tell which option will work out best for you, but in most cases one or all of the above fixes should be able to solve your problems.
From then on, you should hopefully be able to watch your favourite programmes without freezing, or without having to wait ages until the channel completes loading.
Should you not manage to solve the issue after having tried all of the above fixes, you may wish to seek expert advice from the manufacturer or product seller.