Next month retailers will turn on the green light for big holiday sales, and TVs will be at the top of the hot product lists. If you’re in the market for a new TV for yourself or someone else, fall is the best time to make it happen.
If haven’t bought a new TV in a few years, you may be surprised at all the built-in tweaks they come with now. New TVs offer myriad options beyond color and contrast controls. If all you do is unbox your new TV and put it on the wall, you’ll be missing out on all that a new set has to offer.
The best home theater system is the one you plan with help from the experts. Get premium advice for FREE in our expert guide, Planning the Best Home Theater System: Choosing the Best Home Theater Projector, Best Home Theater Speakers, Best Home Theater Receiver, Best Home Theater Screens & More.
So try these tips to make sure that new friend is humming along, delivering HD goodness to one and all.
1.Don’t overuse motion enhancements
This applies mostly to LED/LCD sets. The feature is designed to improve the stuttering sometimes seen on LCD TVs during motions scenes. You may see it listed as a Hz specification (120Hz, 240Hz …) or a clever marketing name (TruMotion, Motion Plus, MotionFlow, CineMotion, and so on). Be careful, some sets might even have two different motion enhancement settings.
At its most basic, the idea behind this technology is to reduce blur and pixilation in fast-moving action. Older model LCDs used to be known for something called the “screen door effect”, when the picture would break down during sporting events or high action scenes. Better refresh rates have helped to curb this issue in newer LCD/LED sets, even without the use of motion smoothing technology.
When turned on, especially to its highest setting, motion smoothing can turn a picture hyper-realistic, making film-based material look like a 1980s sitcom. Start with these enhancements turned “Off” and if you feel that your picture is struggling to keep up with fast action, slowly increase the setting.
2. Watch the material how it was meant to be seen
Filmmakers spend a lot of time tweaking their material to get it exactly how they want it. In an ideal world, your TV would simply be a conduit to view that perfect picture. Since each set is calibrated differently at the factory, that’s sadly not the case.
In addition to motion enhancements, there are several other picture tools that can negatively affect a TV’s output if left to their highest settings.
Locate and either disable or set to “0” any noise reduction or mosquito noise, edge enhancement, skin tone, or shadow detail enhancements when you first set your TV up.
You may eventually switch some of these options back on, but when they are all on at the same time (as is the case sometimes right out of the box) the alterations to the native picture can be too strong.
3.Turn down the lights
When you wander up and down the aisles at your local big box retailer, there’s a reason it feels at times that you might need sunglasses. In most cases, the TVs are set to what’s called “torch mode”. In an effort to draw your eyes to the TV, brightness and color settings are turned way up as each screen strives to be the belle of the ball.
When you get home, however, those settings are poor for regular home viewing. Almost every TV will come with a series of viewing scenes with names like “vivid”, “theater” or “standard”. The theater , cinema or movie setting generally provides the best picture right out of the box (unless you have a THX certified TV, in which case choose that setting). It’s best to avoid the “vivid” or “game” setting for regular viewing.
One note when setting up a new TV: Be sure to give your eyes a chance to get used to any major changes you make to the picture. Watch for a couple days and if you’re still not happy, tinker some more, but avoid making snap judgments.
If you’re looking to take things to the next level, there are several discs available for purchase that will walk you through a self-calibration (such as Digital Video Essentials, Disney’s WOW, and Spears and Munsil).
No one article can help you squeeze every last bit of awesomeness out of your new TV, but following these basic tips will get you up and running and on your way quickly.
If you spent a lot on your TV and you want to ensure you have the best, most accurate picture it’s capable of delivering, then hire a calibrator to fine tune the TV professionally. This goes double for projectors, because they tend to have more picture control options and are more sensitive the the room and screen conditions.