Make us your home page
Instagram

Enriching your TV pictures, from your couch

The New York Times

The New York Times

If you are close to spending thousands of dollars on a TV because you want a better picture, you may want to save your money. You can almost certainly make your TV's picture look better than it did when the set was brand-new, and doing so is relatively easy.

Virtually every mass-produced TV is set by default to stand out in a store display. That means TVs come out of the box with the picture set to be bright, with overly saturated colors and digital sharpening. Kevin Miller, a consultant to several TV manufacturers, calls it the "Best Buy Torch Mode."

But the bright screen and many other TV ills can be fixed by just changing a few settings.

Basic settings: The most obvious fix is to turn off Torch Mode. Find your TV's menus. Look for an option named something like "screen settings" or "modes." Under screen settings, you should see options like Vivid, Games, Sports and Cinema. The truest picture generally comes from the setting with a name like Movie, Cinema or Theater. Those settings give the picture a more filmlike appearance. The THX setting usually gets you closest to movie-theater style. If you want to go a step further, you can change the modes to suit what you are watching at the time. If you don't want to constantly change settings, stick with the one for the kind of viewing you do most often, and test the picture at the time of day you watch most often.

CHECKING FOR HIGH DEFINITION: Don't overlook the Aspect setting. Televisions commonly get shipped set to "overscan" or "zoom," which enlarges the picture and can cut off the edges. The overscan feature is meant to hide errors that sometimes show up in broadcasts as a flickering white line on the edge of a full-screen picture. When you overscan, you reduce the number of lines of resolution and degrade your picture. Instead, set the TV to Full. "If you do not do this, you are not getting high definition," said Joel Silver, founder of the Imaging Science Foundation. "You could be losing 30 percent or more of your resolution." You have to check the settings on your cable or satellite box and DVD player as well.

ADVANCED SETTINGS: If you are even more adventurous, you can delve into custom settings. You can improve individual adjustments like Color Temperature, Brightness, Tint and Motion Smoother by trial and error, or you can save time by looking at what other people with your model of TV have done. People will post how they have set their TVs on audiovisual forums like avsforum or CNET.

CALIBRATION DISCS: There are low-cost calibration discs with video test patterns that help you make the optimal setting for your screen. Perhaps the easiest to use is the HDTV Calibration Wizard from Monster/ISF. The $16 disc uses simple pictures to help you fine-tune five of the most important settings, including brightness, contrast and aspect. You'll be done in about a half-hour.

THE HUMAN ELEMENT: If you don't want to do it yourself, professional calibrators can come in handy. The experts — there are about 45,000 ISF-trained calibrators in the United States — typically charge $200 to $500 for a consumer TV and can be found on the ISF website.

Enriching your TV pictures, from your couch 11/15/13 [Last modified: Sunday, November 17, 2013 7:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: Tampa Bay household income tops $50,000 but still makes us look poor

    Personal Finance

    The good news is Tampa Bay's median household income finally crawled above $50,000 last year. The bad news is that figure — officially $51,115 by new U.S. Census Bureau data — still puts the Tampa Bay region as the poorest of the nation's 25 largest metro areas.

    Tampa Bay still has the lowest median household income among the 25 most populous metro areas, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
[Times]
  2. Make-A-Wish Foundation aims to help more kids in Tampa Bay

    Health

    The Make-A-Wish Foundation is on the lookout for sick children in the Tampa Bay area who need a once-in-a-lifetime pick-me-up.

    Grace Savage, a 10-year-old girl with a chromosomal disorder made a trek to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium last year, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation intends to beef up its presence in the Tampa Bay area after a reorganization. The region is now the responsibility of the foundation's Southern Florida chapter, one of the most active in the country, with more than 11,000 wishes granted so far. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times ]
  3. Florida hides details in nursing home reports. Federal agencies don't.

    Medicine

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott widened his offensive Thursday against the Broward nursing home he blames for the deaths of 10 residents by setting up a tip line for information, but when it comes to access to the inspection reports of all nursing homes, the governor's administration has heavily censored what the …

    In the foreground is a document detailing the findings of a Feb. 2016 inspection at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills obtained from a federal agency, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Behind it is the state?€™s version of the same document, from the Agency for Health Care Administration, showing how it has been redacted before being released to the public. [Miami Herald]
  4. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”
  5. Fewer Tampa Bay homeowners are underwater on their mortgages

    Real Estate

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages continues to drop. In the second quarter of this year, 10.2 percent of borrowers had negative equity compared to nearly 15 percent in the same period a year ago, CoreLogic reported Thursday. Nationally, 5.4 percent of all mortgaged homes were …

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages  continues to drop. [Times file photo]