Thursday, June 11, 2009

HDTV Tweaking tips

I have owned several HDTV in the past, and with the lowered prices of the new HDTVs in the market, you may be tempted to buy the 50" you've been lusting for months. But after bringing it home, you find that your new HDTV which wowed you in the electronics store looks absolutely, well, like crap!

Probably, there is nothing wrong with your TV; you just need to adjust your set. When you watched that new LCD or plasma set in the store, you probably saw a picture designed to grab your eye. And the best way to do so in that brightm noisy, flourscent-lit environment is to crank up the brightness, blow up the colors and set the LCD backlight to the max.

What works well in the store will not work in yout home. Your living room may not be lit with flourscents, and less bright and warmer lights demands a different settings from a TV ot create that pleasing, natural-looking colors and images.

Although the manufacturers have many different presets built in to try to make your job easier, they are merely guesswork out to get the bset picture in your home. As every home is different, creating the right picture requires a few minutes of simple tweaking. Here are some steps to follow:

1) Turn your light down low. (yes, its from Bob Marley)
The picture contrast ratio -- a commonly used specification that indicates the range of brightness from white to black -- is measured in an absolutely black room. But you don't have one in your home and more than likely, your TV will lack detail in the darker parts of an image.

LCD TVs create their images using a flourscent or LED backlight; typically they are turned up tot their maximum setting at the factory. I've met many gurus and technicials which recommend that this level should be turned down to at least half.

2) Set the brightness.
Brightness is controlled by the picture's black level; it needs to be set dark enough so that the screen displays rich dark blacks. If it is too low, the image will lose detail, and if it is too high, the picture will look muddy and the blacks will appear grey.

Black level is important as the truer the black, the greater the perceived sharpness of the TV image. To get a good black level, you can use a plunge pattern, which consist of six vertical bars of varying balck levels. you turn the picture level down until one of the designated bars disappears against the background, Plunge patterns, and other patterns are usually available on a variety of TV tuning discs, which are DVDs that come with test patterns.

If you decide to wing it, you can just watch your favoirite DVD and turn the brightness/picture control down until the detailed areas in a dark part of the frame disappears, then turn it back up until you can just make out some detail.

3) Adjust the contrast.
With the black level set, you want to now maximize the image's whites. The trick is to maintain the details in a white scene and you don't want the whites to be so white that details on a bright scene disappear. (like images on a ski slope during an avalange)

Again, you can use a pattern for tuning or find a movie with a bright scene on a movie, with a woman wearing a white wedding dress. Turn the contrast control so that you can see the dress detail, like fabric folds, or buttons, without becoming a mass of white.

4) Keep colors in check
Most set have saturated colors in default, they display colors more saturated that in real life, making the real world look like a comic book. At first, the natural colors may look too muted, but trust me, it ill become more pleasing in a few days. Adjust the color comtrol until people look the way you would expect them to be, turn the color down until it almost disappear and then raise it back to the desired level.

Greens... Make sure the greens are correct. Look at grass scenes and adjust the hues if needed. As color and hues are interactive, you may need to go back and fourth until you get it right. There are test patterns again for the colors and color bars to use for this test. using filters also can help in the tuning.

*Note the settings you created will be appropriate for the time of the day when they were made. if you did it during the day, brightness controls need to be lowered if you are watching at night. All other controls however should remain the same.

*Consider the source as watching a DVD or a blue-ray disc on certain modern TV may have different settings, check the source and your settings again and see if it changes when you change the source, you may need to do adjustment for the different source.

*Advice on cables. When you spent several thousand dollars on a new TV, you may be tempted to spend several hundred more on a top-of-the-line component. You man even spend a few hundred bucks on cables.

One word of advice -- Don't

Cheap cables that cost $75 pre foot work as well as $100 per foot. With the right cheap HDMI cables, you can see the picture, and hear the sound you want.

-- Reviews Guru

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