Change These Settings on Your New TV for a Better Picture.

If you’re one of those buying a new TV, strains your back for hours trying to place it in your home entertainment center (or attach it to your wall), and starts watching your favorite show to celebrate … you’ve missed an important step. Your TV, new or old, has many settings that are worth exploring to get the best picture quality – or at least the picture you like.

Since each set is different and we’ll be here over the next year trying to explain the nuances of each TV’s setting menus, we’re going to cover some general settings that you should look out for. They may be called something else on your TV; they may not exist at all. Open up your favorite drink, set aside an hour on your calendar, and tune your TV once to look great while you have it.

Adjust brightness / contrast / hue / color / everything else

Your TV has a number of settings that you can adjust to achieve the ideal picture quality. These range from basic – brightness, contrast and backlight power – to more sophisticated settings that allow you to customize the gain or strength of individual channels of red, blue and green.

That’s all well and good, but how do you know what to mess with? How do you even know that your settings don’t make the picture on your TV less accurate and not great and better?

You can go out and buy an expensive device that will allow you to calibrate your TV (and your computer display) at home, or you can also pay someone else to come and do it for you. Expect to spend a few hundred dollars anyway .

If you’ve just spent a small fortune on the best TV you can buy, there might not be enough room in your budget for professional calibration of any kind. And that’s okay. This is probably not what you really want , but you should at least try to do what little you can on your own to improve the picture on your TV.

For a cheaper alternative – I call it the scam route – you can always go to a site like . They have a number of “owner branches” covering a wide range of TVs. Look at yours and you will likely find others who have posted their home or professional calibrations. ( is also a good resource.)

While each individual TV is slightly different and you will still get better results when calibrating your specific TV, using the results of others as a basis can bring you closer to a better picture. (At least you’ll be able to see if there is a consensus on which obscure settings you should turn on or off, such as Pure Digital Preview; what Color Tone you might want to use; and what the heck, you have to set your kit’s Gamma to, to name a few.)

If you want to try a DIY route, I recommend grabbing one of the many calibration templates that you can download for free . Burn them to disc and play them on your TV (or stream the MP4 from another device), then use the included template guide PDF to figure out how to properly adjust the brightness, contrast, and other variables of your set. You can also try streaming the content of the app to your TV, for example THX tune-up (iOS); see if your favorite movies have built-in calibration templates like TK; Using a calibration tool on a connected device, such as anXbox One game console or simply pull these THX test patterns from the connected stick.

Disable dumb settings you don’t need

Every time I go to someone’s house – especially if that someone falls into the category of “parents of friends”, they certainly have a great new TV. And when they play something on this set, it looks like an ass because they left the settings that create the awful “soap opera effect .” Ugh.

For a good example of the “soap opera effect” let’s look at “The Hobbit” – 48 frames per second.

TVs vary greatly in the options they offer (and what they call them), but generally speaking, you want to disable most of the settings that try to add something to your image that isn’t there.

For example, if there are settings that promise to add “enhanced” color to your movies, such as Flesh Tone or Vivid Color, you should probably turn them off. You add something extra that was not in the movie – that itself has been specially tuned for a particular look.

The same is true for any “noise canceling” function. You don’t need them for high definition content, and even if you are watching something that was created at a much lower resolution than what your TV natively supports, your TV will do its best to make it look better. and trying to remove visual artifacts. It may or may not give you a prettier picture, but it’s just additional post-processing that alters the original image (no matter how crappy it is).

You will also want to turn off any settings that cause your TV to adjust brightness or contrast on the fly. This can include any “green” or “energy-saving” features that dim the screen to conserve power (or the perceived brightness of your room), as well as the dreaded “dynamic contrast” feature — one of the first settings you turn off. the television. If your TV promises some way to “improve” the darker parts of the picture, turn those off as well.

Once you’ve correctly adjusted the brightness and contrast using the various calibration methods I talked about earlier, you won’t need these artificial enhancements. They will either make the gray areas of your image too dark or add unnecessary brightness by trying to bring out more detail, which will only take you further away from the purest shape of the image.

Finally, to get rid of the ugly soap opera effect, make sure your TV isn’t using any motion interpolation features. Basically, if your set talks about image anti-aliasing oradding extra frames , turn that off. However, the setting you might want to revisit if your TV has one is the setting to correct for 24p jitter. This is a rather complex topic that explains beautifully in this video:

You may not notice the shake effect when watching your favorite movies, so it may not matter. To test, select a scene you like and play around with your set’s interpolation settings. I’m a little vague about this because all TVs have different ways of describing and presenting these options. For example, on a Sony TV from, the “Smooth” setting for MotionFlow is not what you want, but choosing “True Cinema” will display the movie at 24 frames per second. (And you’ll also want to set its Cinemotion to Auto or High, depending on your TV.)

If you are confused and want the simplest answer, just turn off any frame adjustment, adding frames, or interpreting images. Breathe calmly and enjoy your normal, non-ugly way.

Finally, if you have a fancy new TV that supports High Dynamic Range (HDR), make sure it is set to use it. By default, it should be, but you’ll probably have some option to turn it off or set it to some sort of automatic, so it always fires whenever you view HDR-compatible content. (This is not “HDR + mode” if you see this option, which adds unnecessary enhancements to your image.)

And while you dig into your settings, you can also see an option that allows you to set the TV’s color space. If it is not in Auto mode, it should be set to Limited – along with whatever devices you have connected to your TV – unless you are using your new TV as a monitor for your PC. If yes, select “Full” on both.

What about my TV’s picture modes?

Most TVs allow you to choose from a large list of picture modes, including options such as Vivid, Warm, Cool, Game, andSample, to name a few. If you’ve followed the instructions above, “see what other settings people have calibrated their devices with,” you can probably figure out which modes are best for your TV and which should be avoided at all costs.

Overall – and I say this very loosely as TVs vary so much – you probably want to stick with anything that sounds like Cinema or Cinema mode rather than Normal, Vivid, Dynamic, or ” Sports.” You are more likely to get the best picture quality for all kinds of content you watch.

I would even recommend sticking with the Movie or Movie mode for sports fans and gamers – as your TV probably also has a Game mode, as presets that try to reduce latency on your TV or remove blur can trade quality Images. And if you have a giant gorgeous TV, you probably want it to look its best in the first place.

However, I’ve seen a lot of advice that gamers should use Game Mode on their TVs. And your Xbox One can even switch to it initially if you want , and then switch back to the regular “movie” preset when you’re done playing. If you’re using your TV’s Game Mode, make sure you tweak all other settings to reduce any unnatural saturation, brightness, or contrast. Game mode can help you reduce input lag, but it can also make your image look a lot worse .

And of course, if your TV is fancy enough to have any kind of “calibrated” mode, try using it first. If you’re lucky, this will reduce the amount of customization you have to tweak.

Oh, and don’t forget: you may have to customize all picture settings for each device you connect to your TV. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, you may need slightly different settings or modes for your PlayStation 4, your satellite receiver, your TV’s built-in Netflix app, etc. This can be a tedious process if you have a lot of devices, but at least you you only need to do all this once.


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