How to Set Up your TV
If you’ve just bought a new TV, you’ll be eager to get it out of the box and start watching your favourite programmes. However, by spending just a few minutes calibrating the settings first, you can benefit from the best image quality your TV can offer.
Manufacturers tend to set up new TVs in the factory with the brightness and contrast settings turned up, to attract potential buyers in the showroom. Once you get your TV home it’s important to adjust these default settings to suit your viewing needs.
You can buy special discs to help you calibrate your TV perfectly, but the desired effect can also be achieved manually.
Select Your Material
Blu-ray players or newer gaming consoles are ideal for helping you calibrate your TV.
Whatever source you choose, it will need to be connected to your TV via an HDMI cable. An HD movie or TV programme with a mixture of bright and dark scenes and a range of colours is ideal.
Your new TV will come with different picture modes designed to give a different feel to the image that suits the type of content you’re watching.
The exact names depend on the brand of TV, but they usually include variations of sports, games, cinema and standard.
You can select one of these modes to change a number of settings, such as brightness, contrast and colour saturation, all in one go. If you’re not very technically-minded, this might be enough for you. However, it’s possible to fine tune the settings individually, so you get exactly the picture you want.
How to Calibrate Your TV
Bear in mind that the settings below can affect one another.
If you increase the brightness, for example, you may need to reduce the contrast, and vice versa. Play around with the settings to achieve the effect you want – you can always restore the default configuration if things don’t look quite right.
The brightness levels affect how light an image is. Too much brightness makes blacks look grey and removes detail from light areas of the image, whereas lower levels of brightness can make whites look grey and remove detail from darker areas.
The easiest way to alter brightness levels is to find a dark scene with details in the shadows. Vary the brightness until it’s at a level where these details are just visible, but the colour is still a strong black. Remember that not all details in shadowy areas of the image should be visible.
Contrast is the difference between the lightest and darkest areas of an image. With high contrast, whites and blacks will be very pure, but there may not be many shades of grey in between. On the other hand, low contrast tends to make everything grey.
Find a scene containing bright colours or a lot of white. Alter the contrast level to suit your personal preference, but make sure the brightest areas in the image still contain detail and defined edges.
High definition TVs tend not to need much sharpness enhancement. The best way to tell is to pause on a scene that contains straight lines. If the sharpness level is right, the lines will look crisp, without any overly defined edges.
The backlight changes the brightness of the bulbs or LEDs that light up your TV screen. If your TV is positioned in a room with lots of light, you’re likely to want to set this higher than if you’re watching in the dark. Most people can set the backlight to its lowest setting for evening viewing and increase it a little during the daytime.
Some TVs offer the option to alter the colour intensity or tone, and this is one of the most important options, as poorly set colours can make everyone look orange. This is a little harder to get right, so you might want to invest in a calibration disc.
If you choose to do this manually, select the warmest setting as a starting point. Try to find a scene where you can see people’s faces clearly, and adjust the colour settings until the skin tones look natural.