Regardless of whether you are viewing standard TV programming, using your DVD or Blu-ray player, or connecting your PC to your HDTV to enjoy Internet TV programming, you may not be getting the most of out of your viewing experience with your HDTV. If you just purchased an LCD or HDTV or you have had it set up for a period of time, there is a process known as TV calibration that can help you improve the quality of videos you watch on your HDTV.
Calibration is the process of adjusting the settings on your HDTV to allow the unit to meet improved standards which cannot be achieved by using factory settings. When you purchase your HDTV it is configured with what is known as factory default settings. These are settings that are pre-configured at the time of manufacturing to match the lighting in the showroom so the display catches your eye when you are in the retail store.
HDTV manufacturers use default settings across the board since their first priority is to get the unit into the showroom in the fastest way possible to keep up with the competition and to be sure their unit sells when it catches your eye with sharpness, vivid colors, and clarity. However, what looks great in the showroom will not necessarily look the same when you install the unit in your living room due to different lighting and other factors that come into play. These are some of the reasons you may not be getting the most out of your HDTV without even realizing it until you calibrate the unit. Here are a few tips:
Use a High Definition Resource
Before you begin to calibrate your HDTV make sure you use a resource that is going to help you get the highest quality display possible with your unit. For example, an old movie that was created prior to HD will not make a viable resource for calibrating your HDTV. Instead, use a true high definition example such as a cable channel delivered in high definition or a video delivered through your Blu-ray player. You will also get the best results if you choose a video that has a variety of different scenes and colors which demonstrate contrast from dark to light.
Calibrating the Settings
You will find that there are fundamental settings that you can adjust to achieve the highest quality display for your surroundings. There are also locked adjustments on the television which you should not access if you are inexperienced with calibrating an LCD or HDTV. One wrong move when calibrating locked settings can affect many other settings on your unit and you will spend hours and hours trying to get everything working properly again. That said here are a few ways you can safely calibrate your HDTV to improve the quality of your viewing experience:
- Display Brightness: When you think of the term brightness you automatically think of lightening up the display. Actually the brightness setting on your HDTV adjusts the black levels to enhance the dimension of the display picture. You can adjust the brightness setting by choosing a specific scene from the video you chose as your resource and then pausing the scene. If there is a lot of light in the scene increase the display brightness until you see the bars turning a grey color and then reduce the setting back slightly until the bars once again turn black. Use the same process for a dark scene to bring out dimensions in low lighting.
- Clarity: The clarity of your HDTV display refers to the sharpness of the picture quality. Adjusting this setting to its maximum capacity will actually result in distorting the picture quality instead of improving it. Instead, adjust the sharpness only to the point where you can clearly see the lines in the objects of a scene. Anything beyond that will result in uneven lines and object distortion.
- Contrast: In order to adjust the contrast setting you must find a scene in your video that is well lit since contrast refers to the brighter colors on the display. Once you find a scene that contains a lot of light colors, pause it and then adjust the setting to the point where the object still remains light but you can still see the details and sharp edges of the image.
- Use Calibration Disc for Color: Adjusting the color on your HDTV can prove to be tricky and frustrating. This is why it is always wise to use a calibration disc to make the most out of the color on your display. You can pick up a calibration disc for not much money at an electronics outlet store or online resources such as Amazon. If you choose to adjust the color by hand, the object of the game is to choose a scene in your video that contains different people and then work with the color until their skin appears natural.
As an additional tip, if you have an HDTV that you are calibrating it is unnecessary to be concerned about the backlighting. On the other hand if your flat screen television is an LCD then you may want to check the backlighting setting to ensure you are receiving the best quality display. The backlighting adjustment will depend upon the lighting in the room where your LCD is located. If the room is bright it may be necessary to increase the backlight but if the room is darkly lit you may not have to do much in terms of adjustment.
Finally, make sure you record the settings you changed and place them where you can refer back to them in the event you are required to make slight adjustment in programs that are not delivered in high definition. Other adjustments may be necessary when you watch older television programs so you will want to be able to quickly revert back to the settings you changed to enjoy high definition videos and other programming delivered in this mode.