Picture Settings Tweaks

Simple Tweaks to Make the Picture Look Better

A couple of thousands of dollars and a few hours of unpacking the TV and reconfiguring the layout of your furniture later, you're ready to enjoy your spanking new HDTV. A few minutes after popping in your favorite movie disc, the wide grin on your face disappeared. Wait, is there something wrong with your new TV? You certainly don't remember it looking like this in the store. Fear not, we've a few tweaks here that you can try.

1. Adjust the Presets

Try using the Movie or Cinema presets; and avoid anything that says Vivid or Bright - unless you prefer exaggerated colors and contrast for your images (these probably look better for console gaming). At the very least, find a preset that yield the most pleasing and natural-looking images, and adjust the image parameters (such as brightness and contrast) to taste from there.

2. Dim the Room Lights

What's the ambient light level in the room? For a better viewing experience, you may want to dim the lights or draw the curtains. Also, avoid having any light hitting directly on the display. You'd be surprised how much more details you can see once you turn down the lights.

3. Check the Connections

Before you pull your hair out wondering why your HDTV is performing so poorly, verify again that you've connected everything up properly. Did you mistakenly connect the HD set-top box using composite cables instead of component cables? We know this sounds like common sense, but we've seen this happen before, especially for the less tech-savvy users.

4. Turn Off Motion-Smoothing for Film-based Content

Features such as motion-smoothing and frame interpolation may not be good for film-based content as it rids the film of its distinctive feel. If you spot any non-film-like motion typical of frame interpolation (read: the image looks too smooth), you can try turning off any such motion-smoothing features (but leave it on for other video sources). Of course, this is a moot point if you can't tell the difference.

5. Use the THX Optimizer

Over here at HardwareZone, we use a lot of test material and calibration tools to setup our TVs for testing. But we don't expect most consumers to have these fancy equipment at home. But if you already own some DVD or Blu-ray titles (especially releases that are THX-certified), chances are these discs include something called THX Optimizer. It's a simple to use, on-screen calibration tool for home theater systems. If you're some time on your hands, why not give the disc a spin? If the disc has it, you'd see it in the Setup menu.

Most THX-certified DVD and Blu-ray releases come with THX Optimizer. (Shown here is the DVD cover of Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope (1977 & 2004 Versions, 2-Disc Widescreen Edition). Copyright by respective production studio and/or distributor.)

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