How to optimise your live sports streaming set-up for Kayo
Get the most out of Kayo with these handy tips.
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Kayo comes with a host of features (planned and available at launch) that are something of a dream for fans of live sport. These include a picture-in-a-picture mode and a split-screen feature that allows you to watch four different sports simultaneously on the same screen. A quick-jump interface that allows you to leap between highlight moments of a match or performance even as it is ongoing. And the ability to toggle spoiler information like the score so as to not accidentally ruin a moment you hope to catch up on while channel surfing. The ability to choose your own camera view is also in the works.
While all of these features are a godsend for fans, the HD streaming and picture-in-picture technology can take a serious toll on your bandwidth and data usage. That's why it's important to consider your home and mobile streaming set-up before signing up for Kayo.
Below, we've listed the best hardware and smart streaming solutions for those looking to go toe to toe with Kayo.
The best TVs for streaming live sport
Kayo supports streaming in high definition (HD) but not in 4K (for the foreseeable future, at least). This means it's highly likely your existing TV will be able to make the most of Kayo's maximum picture quality. You don't need to buy a 4K (also referred to as Ultra HD or UHD) TV specifically for Kayo. With that said, there are other things to consider.
Screen size. It's typically a case of the bigger the better when it comes to watching live sport. When you're trying to track a small cricket ball flying through the air or watching a football match with the action scattered across the length of the field, the size of your screen really matters. If you intend to make the most of Kayo's split-screen features, that adds further weight to the argument for getting a reasonably sized TV. With that in mind, a 65-inch television or higher is a good target.
Refresh rate. The refresh rate of your TV is also critical for live sport. Measured in MHz, this defines how often the screen redraws the image you're seeing. Given the action and pace at which most sport occurs, the higher the refresh rate, the smoother and more natural the sport appears. Go 120MHz at worst, 240MHz if you can stretch that far with your budget.
HDR. HDR, or high dynamic range, is another sport-friendly feature to look out for. It ensures a larger palette of colours and a greater contrast between the dark and light spectrums. In short, HDR adds to the realism and gives the athletes more pop as they move about the screen.
Screen technology. Along similar lines, you'd also be wise to seek out an OLED TV over the more traditional LED screen. OLED TVs draw on electrical power to create colours and tend to be a lot brighter and more vibrant while offering an even blacker black. For those mammoth sessions watching the Bathurst 1000 or an Ashes Test, they're far more energy-efficient, too.
Take a look at our TV buying guide for more advice on purchasing a new TV.
What is the best broadband plan for live streaming sport?
A reliable and consistent broadband connection isn't as crucial for traditional television streaming as it is for live streaming sport. If a film or TV show begins to buffer or phase down to standard definition (SD) in the middle of the stream, you can always pause or rewind. With live sport, though, issues like this can make it impossible to follow the action and even end up in situations where you completely miss a key play or moment in a live game.
We've already looked at how much data Kayo uses and we found that some serious speed is required to make the most of Kayo and stream four sports at once. A minimum of 31.2Mbps is needed to pull that off, which is higher than both Basic and Standard speed NBN plans. As such, a plan that offers speeds above this minimum download speed is advised.
Your live sports streaming set-up will also churn through data, so an unlimited data plan is a must.
To help you pick the right Internet plan, we've put together a guide to the fastest broadband providers in Australia.
What's the best router for streaming live sport?
The humble router must not be forgotten. It might be an ugly-looking thing and easy to stick in a cupboard and forget about, but ultimately, it's the gatekeeper to your Wi-Fi speed. If it isn't up to spec, then all the devices in your house connecting through it will be suffering. Here are some points to consider when buying a router for the best live sports streaming set-up:
Stay wired if you can
Rule number one is to avoid using Wi-Fi when possible. A wired connection will always give you the best live sports streaming experience.
Use the 802.11ac standard
Ensure your router works to the latest 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. Much like the leap from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0, the leap between each Wi-Fi standard brings with it better speeds and improved range. The very latest standard is called 802.11ac and is a must for the best live sports streaming experience. Just be aware your devices must also operate at that standard. If your router is compatible with the latest 802.11ac standard but your phone still uses 802.11n or 802.11b, then your speed will be bottlenecked to that of the lesser device.
Understand the AC rating
Most modern routers have an AC rating in their name. It will read along the lines of "Netgear XR500 Nighthawk AC2600 Dual-band Router". You want to see AC in the name, as that confirms the router works to the latest 802.11ac standard. As for the number after that, it's an indicator of the total bandwidth the router offers. Sadly, it's not as easy as the highest number being the best. The number is derived from the total bandwidth supplied by all the bands on the router. So, a router with two bands but an AC1800 rating actually offers better bandwidth than a three-band router with an AC2100 rating. This is because the two bands on the former are bringing 900 to the table each and the three bands in the latter are 700 each.
As most devices can only connect to one band at a time, the AC1800 is typically the better choice. As a rule of thumb, stay above an AC1200. Routers lower than that are old and being phased out.
Dual-band is a must
The more bands your router has, the more frequencies your router can operate on. This is handy for streaming live sport, because while older technology in your house might congest the 2.4GHz frequency, you can connect your TV to the 5GHz band for a faster and more reliable connection.
A fast processor
Like all technology, there is a brain behind a router that powers all its tasks. The smarter that brain, the better it can handle the tasks you throw at it. As such, it's wise to compare the specifications of the hardware inside your router. The lowest you should consider is a single-core processor clocking at a speed of 800MHz with 128MB of RAM. But for Kayo or any serious smart home experience, we'd recommend at least a dual-core processor running at a much faster speed and at least 256MB of RAM.
Features to look out for
Naturally, every router manufacturer is going to try and wow you with special features. The vast majority of these are for advanced users or are the same as each other, but just use different names. There are a few that you do want to see on your router box, though:
- Advanced QoS: As opposed to just standard QoS (Quality of Service), advanced QoS means your router will be smart enough to work out which devices need more bandwidth than others and to set aside bandwidth accordingly.
- Beamforming: This refers to a feature where a router is able to direct its signal towards your device, as opposed to just radiating it out in the hope of finding your device. As you'd expect, a direct signal is a stronger signal.
- MU-MIMO: Otherwise known as multi-user multiple input multiple output, this refers to your router's ability to talk to multiple devices at once. This allows you to stream live sport on the TV while your child is watching YouTube on your phone.
- Mobile app: Many router manufacturers now have a smartphone app through which it can be controlled. This is a far more user-friendly experience when you need to reset passwords, check what devices are on the network or play with other key settings than an older web-based interface.
Where to position your router
Finally, once you've got your Wi-Fi router of choice in your home, you have to place it in the right spot. Any objects between your device and the router are going to impact the strength of the Wi-Fi signal in some way. Key obstacles to watch out for are metal objects such as fridges and microwaves as well as thick walls and bodies of water.
The ideal place for a router is up high, above head height, in a centralised location with respect to your key streaming devices. If you have a big house or key devices (such as TVs) are located at polar ends of your home, you can also consider setting up a range extender. A range extender is a second router you position elsewhere in the house. It takes the signal from your main router and amplifies it, extending the range of your signal without the need to set up multiple networks.
For more, head over to our detailed comparison of top NBN routers.
Then all you need is a Kayo couch
Once you have all of the above set up to your liking, there's only one ingredient left: a really comfy couch. And maybe an esky full of beers, too. Keep a close eye on the Finder tech pages over the coming weeks and months as we continue to follow the development of Kayo as it rolls out of beta and into a full launch.
If all goes to plan, your 2019 live sports viewing experience should be really impressive.
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