Simple steps to improve the picture quality of your new or old TV

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TVs are cheap this time of year, but people are often disappointed after buying a new set. The image quality is not up to expectations. Fortunately, it only takes a few tweaks to get a better picture.

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Let’s say you’re splurging 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 bring it home. This often happens because they are not always calibrated correctly for the lighting in your home.

It would be even worse if I bought the floor model from the store. Floor models have very tight saturation and hues designed to draw attention to 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 setup.

Element 4K Ultra HD Smart TV - Amazon Fire TV Edition.

Element 4K Ultra HD Smart TV – Amazon Fire TV Edition.
(PRNewswire)

1. Use the screen presets

Your TV likely has several built-in presets tailored to different uses, such as watching movies or sports channels. You can find them in your TV’s picture settings menu. Consult your TV manual to find them. If you don’t have the manual, tap or click here to find it online.

Sometimes your new TV may have default values ‚Äč‚Äčlike alive because this gives the most pop colors, often too much. Many store models use this default value.

For general television viewing, the standard The default setting, or whatever your TV is called, is your best bet. Just making this change can fix many image quality problems.

Try browsing through the other options and see which one you like best. 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.

Samsung TV.

Samsung TV.
(Samsung)

2. Use your eyes

If none of the presets are to your liking, take more control over your image settings. After all, you will be the one to see it. Parameters you can adjust include contrast, hue, brightness, sharpness, and color temperature.

To get started, put on some of your favorite movies with various scenes and lighting. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Be sure to set up the lighting in your room as you normally would when watching TV.
  • Make sure the movies have very dark, very light, crowded scenes and are very colorful.
  • In dark scenes, adjust the brightness settings so that the shadows are as black as they can be while still showing detail.
  • Then go to a bright scene and adjust the contrast so that the white spaces are as white as possible without taking away all the details.
  • Then adjust the color temperature until skin tones and colors look natural. If your TV has saturation controls, you can adjust the intensity of the colors. You want the sweet spot between “wiped out” and “hurts the eyes to look at.”

Tap or click here to drill down on individual image settings.

When everything looks good, test your setup with a few more movies at different room lighting levels. You also need to turn off the TV a few times and come back after a few minutes to see your changes with a fresh look.

If you don’t quite trust your eyes or want a little more help, there’s another step you can take.

3. Use a calibration disc

For a more accurate calibration, you can use a calibration disc. This walks you through each setting and provides carefully crafted visuals to help guide your adjustments. It works well in most cases, but don’t be afraid to change the specific settings according to your preferences. It’s your TV, so the best picture is the one you like best.

There are a couple of options for purchasing a calibration disc. You can get this helpful Spears & Munsil Blu-ray for about $40.

Other calibration options

There are other options if you don’t want to buy a disc. First, check your TV’s manual as it may have a built-in calibration routine.

Also, there are some calibration videos on YouTube that you can download if you have a Smart TV. Search “AVS HD 709” for a string of them. Of course, they need a little more work on your part.

If you want to get technical, Netflix has a calibration option. Sign in to your Netflix account and visit netflix.com. Click my list to add this video to your list, then launch Netflix on your TV and search your list Short example 23,976.

Start the video and fast forward to Minute 9:40. 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 squares perfectly square), and a pattern in gray scale. (Adjust the brightness and contrast, so you can see each frame clearly, but the 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 central gray boxes will have a tint.

Doing any of the tips discussed in this article should give you better picture quality than you’ve been experiencing with your TV. Now you can watch the big game in style.

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