While Hulu allows you to catch up on your favorite television shows, it's impossible to keep up when playback is pixelated or choppy. The Hulu website has minimum system requirements for optimum playback, as well as recommended network speeds. If you meet these requirements, you may need to change how you're using your network or change your browser settings.

System Requirements & Network Speed

If your computer and network doesn't meet Hulu's minimum requirements, there's not much you can do to ensure better playback. Hulu recommends a down speed of at least 1.5 Mbps for basic streaming and at least 3 Mbps for HD streaming. You should update to the most recent version of Adobe Flash and the most recent version of either Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Chrome. For desktop hardware, Hulu recommends a processor no slower than the 2.33GHz Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 2800+. You should have at least 256MB of RAM and 64MB of graphics memory. In laptops, you can have a slower processor (1.6GHz Intel Atom at minimum), but you need at least 1GB of RAM.

Optimizing Bandwidth Usage

If you meet the minimum requirements but still have problems with your streaming video, check that you don't have other programs or processes using a lot of bandwidth. For instance, online gaming or large downloads can use a lot of bandwidth -- if you add streaming video to one of those tasks, there's less bandwidth to go around. Programs like Skype can also use up a lot of bandwidth. Close any other bandwidth-heavy tasks when streaming video on Hulu. Streaming over wireless can also impact video quality, as network speed is slower over wireless. If possible, watch Hulu on a computer that connects to the Internet via Ethernet cable.

Buffering and Quality

Hulu also recommends pausing the video and letting the buffer build up before continuing with the video; ideally, once you have a buffer built up, the rest of the video has time to load, eliminating choppy playback. Another option is to lower the video quality slightly, which can reduce the load on your bandwidth enough that you'll see overall better quality even when you've chosen a lower video quality.

Adjusting Flash Settings

If nothing else seems to help, Hulu recommends turning off hardware acceleration by right-clicking on the video and selecting "Settings" from the context menu. In the "Display" section, deselect "Enable Hardware Acceleration." Close the settings and restart your browser to see if this increases the quality of Hulu videos.