TVs are cheap this time of year, but people are often disappointed after buying a new set. Image quality is not up to expectations. Fortunately, a better image is just a few tweaks away.
Let’s say you’re hooked a lot on a fancy new TV. All you have to do is plug it in and start watching your favorite TV shows and movies. But as soon as you start, you notice that the colors are dull or too bright.
It’s not necessarily the TV’s fault. Any new TV can be a disappointment when you get it home. This is often because they are not always calibrated correctly for the lighting in your home.
It would be even worse if you bought the floor model from the store. Floor models have heavily modified saturation and hues designed to grab your attention in fluorescent lighting. Once you put it in standard home lighting, it looks terrible.
You can pay an expert to set up your new TV, or you can save money and get great results by doing it yourself. Let’s start with a basic setting.
1. Use Display Presets
Your TV probably has several built-in presets suitable for different uses, such as watching movies or sports channels. You can find them in your TV’s picture settings menu. Check your TV manual to find them. If you don’t have your manual, tap or click here to find it online.
Sometimes your new TV may have default settings for presets such as vivid because it gives colors the most color – often too much. Many store templates use this preset.
For general TV viewing, the Standard preset – or whatever your TV calls it – is your best bet. Just making this change alone can fix many image quality issues.
Try browsing the other options and see which one you prefer. You can also test the settings for different scenarios. Some TVs even have presets for specific types of sports, so load up a game or two and see what they do for you.
2. Use your eyes
If none of the presets work for you, take more control over your image settings. You will be the one watching it, after all. The settings you can adjust include contrast, tint, brightness, sharpness, and color temperature.
To get started, put on some of your favorite movies with different scenes and lighting. Keep these tips in mind:
- Be sure to adjust the lighting in your room as it normally is when watching television.
- Make sure movies include very dark, very bright, crowded, and very colorful scenes.
- In dark scenes, adjust the brightness setting so that shadows are as black as possible while still showing detail.
- Next, head to a bright scene and adjust the contrast so that the white spaces are as white as possible without blowing out all the detail.
- Next, adjust the color temperature until skin tones and colors appear natural. If your TV has saturation controls, you can fine-tune the color vibrancy. You want the middle ground between “washed out” and “hurts your eyes to look at.”
Once everything looks good, test your settings with a few more films at different lighting levels in the room. You should also turn off the TV several times and come back after a few minutes to see your changes with fresh eyes.
If you don’t fully trust your eyes or want a little more help, there is another step you can take.
3. Use a calibration disc
To obtain a more precise calibration, you can use a calibration disc. This walks you through each setting and gives you carefully crafted visual images to guide you through your adjustments. This works fine in most cases, but don’t be afraid to tweak specific settings to suit your preferences. It’s your TV, so the best picture is the one you like the most.
There are several options for purchasing a calibration disc. You can get this Blu-ray from Spears & Munsil which is useful for around $40.
Other Calibration Options
There are other options if you don’t want to buy a disc. First, check your TV manual, as you may have built in a calibration routine.
Additionally, there are calibration videos on YouTube that you can upload if you have a Smart TV. Search “AVS HD 709” for a string of them. Of course, they require a little more work on your part.
If you want to get technical, Netflix has a calibration option. Log into your Netflix account and visit netflix.com. Click on My list to add this video to your list, then launch Netflix on your TV and search through your list Example Short 23.976.
Start the video and fast forward to the 9:40 minute mark. You’ll see color bars to show color saturation, a pattern of circles and boxes to make sure your aspect ratio and sharpness are good (circles should be perfectly round and boxes perfectly square), and a pattern in grayscale. (Adjust brightness and contrast, so you can see each box clearly, but black and white are as dark and bright as possible.)
The grayscale test can also tell you if your color temperature is off because the center gray boxes will have a tint.
Performing any of the tips in this article should give you better picture quality than you experienced with your TV. Now you can watch the big game in style.
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