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How to calibrate your HDTV for the best picture possible

HDTV Calibration
HDTV Calibration

You've just purchased a new HDTV, you get it home, get it setup and are now enjoying the game with your buddies, but how do you know you are getting the best picture possible from your new big screen? Calibration of your HDTV's picture is a very important process, and one that must be attempted if you really want to get the most from your big screen. Not only will calibration get you the best picture, it will cut down on energy consumption too. Follow these general guidelines to get the most from your HDTV.

Never use factory settings or demo mode

When you go to a store to purchase a TV, they all look incredibly bright and vivid. This is a tactic that is used by manufacturers to get you to notice their TV over the others that are on display. The factory settings are set in this way so that the TVs look good with all of the store lights beating down on them.

When the TV's are setup for the store they use a mode called demo mode, and you will actually see this mode listed the first time you power on your new TV. Do not pick demo mode under any circumstances. The demo mode settings will never look good in your home as they are designed for shock value and will not calibrate down to acceptable levels. If you want images bright enough to burn out your retina's go ahead, but I am sure you will want your new TV to offer the most accurate color reproduction possible.

Avoid Dynamic mode

Almost all new HDTV's have a mode called Dynamic mode, and really this mode is the at home variant of the store demo mode. Trust me, you will want to avoid this mode like the plague. Dynamic mode will produce a very bright, incredibly over-saturated picture. Unfortunately most people think that this is how HDTV is supposed to look, but this could not be further from the truth. In the world of HDTV what you are really looking for are clean, clear, crisp images that offer natural looking colors, natural skin tones, good white balance, and deep blacks. Dynamic mode will never allow you to dial in accurate colors is not a way to get these.

Calibrate each input

Each source that is connected to your HDTV will need to be calibrated separately to get the best picture. What might look good for your cable or dish feed, will not look good for your DVD, Blu Ray or game console.Unfortunately each input must be calibrated separately so that you can ensure you get the best picture possible for each source.

It may take some time to calibrate each input, but the results will be excellent, and you will get much more enjoyment out of your new big purchase. If you TV has a setting called Game mode, use this setting exclusively for your game console. The mode has a higher refresh rate than the other modes so that any lag between your controlling your game from the controller is eliminated. The higher refresh rate will also help to minimize any potential risk from burn-in (although this issue is almost a thing of the past now)

Use a Calibration Disc

There are many calibration discs available for purchase that can aid in the calibration of your new HDTV. The discs are easy to use, and are fairly cheap at around $20. They will take you through the process in a step-by-step manner so that you can get the best picture possible. You will calibrate the contrast, brightness, the color saturation for blue, green and red, and many other settings by using on screen images, color scales and grey scales. One of the best you can get is Video Essentials by Joe Kane.

There are of course other options available, and if you would rather not spend any more money you can download the popular AVSHD 709 calibration software. The AVS 709 calibration suite has been made my audio/visual enthusiasts, and while it will get the job done, it is nowhere near as user friendly as using a mainstream calibration Blu Ray or DVD.

Alternatively you could use a new app that has been made by THX. The application is available for iPhone users, and users of select Android devices (HTC phones, Samsung Phone, Google Play Edition phones, and Nexus devices). You will need to buy the app for $2 and then have a way to connect your phone to your display (either wirelessly via Airplay, Apple TV, or by hard-wiring the phone to the TV). Once you have the phone connected to your TV you can project the images from the THX app straight to your TV for easy setup.

Search the Internet

If you do not want to spend more money, then there are plenty of websites that will have settings for hundreds of different TV makes and model. The best website for this is Tweak TV. At Tweak TV you will find calibration settings for just about every TV ever produced. The results posted are from professional calibration experts and the settings often produce good results.

Just remember that the settings posted at this site will not take into environmental factors that you may encounter in your home such as bright lighting. If you want a easy, hassle free way to get a pretty good looking picture then this is the way to go. You could always use the settings posted and then adjust the picture more to your liking afterwards, but if you want the ultimate picture use one of the calibration methods mentioned above/

Eyeball the Picture

Use your eyes to guide you. Settings for your HDTV can be affected by many things including the room it is located in, the type of light that you have in the room, and what you enjoy watching on your TV. Change the settings so that the picture looks good to your eyes. After all it is your TV and you should be able to calibrate it to what your eyes like the best.

Calibrating your new TV is an easy way to make sure that you are getting the best possible picture on your HDTV. High Definition can look absolutely incredible when your TV has been properly calibrated. Calibrating take about 20 minutes to do and it will produce results that are quite stunning. If you do not feel comfortable changing the settings yourself, you could always a hire a calibration professional to come to you home and calibrate your TV for you. ISF certified calibration experts will usually use very sensitive sensors to pinpoint settings for your TV, however this service is not cheap and can cost as much as $200.

One thing for sure is that no matter which way you choose to calibrate your HDTV, you can be absolutely sure that your favorite shows will have never looked so good. Take the time to do this process the right way and treat your eyes to real HDTV.

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