Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Optimize HDTV

Basic Optimization

There is a lot you can do to optimize your HDTV with only a basic understanding of how to use your TVs remote control. Electrical showrooms display HD TVs with a view to creating maximum impact. This often means for example that brightness levels are set to high for the average user, and can be to the detriment of the viewing experience in the home. The good news is that these type of settting can easily be optimized.

Room lighting

Since most people turn down the lights to watch a movie, our recommendations are designed to deliver a better HD picture in rooms with controlled lighting. Unless you have a big-screen projector or you're sitting at the minimum viewing distance, you shouldn't watch movies in complete darkness - it can cause eyestrain. For bright plasmas and smaller direct-view sets, the ideal setup is to place a dim light directly behind the TV and leave the rest of the room dark. Look for special "daylight" bulbs that glow at 6,500 degrees Kelvin. You should also prevent any light in the room from reflecting off the TV, as glare will hamper image fidelity. Watching at night is best, but if you watch during the day, thick curtains will really improve the picture.

Before you make any of the adjustments detailed below, set room lighting as if you were about to watch a movie.


Optimize Brightness

What it is: Also called black level, brightness actually adjusts how dark the black sections of the picture appear.

What it does: Excessive brightness can result in a two-dimensional, washed-out look with reduced color saturation. Images with brightness set too low lose detail in shadows, and distinctions between dark areas disappear in pools of black.

How to set it: Turn up the brightness to full, then reduce until just at the point you notice a loss of shadow detail - for example, when people's eyes disappear into the depths under their brows, then you've set brightness too low. Some plasma, LCD, DLP, and LCoS TVs won't ever look black, so you'll need a setup disc to properly configure their brightness.


Optimize Contrast

What it is: Also called picture or white level, contrast controls the intensity of the white parts of the image and determines the overall light output of the display.

How to set it: Display a still image from DVD of a white object with some visible details - such as someone wearing a white button-up shirt or a shot of a glacier from the Ice Age DVD. Adjust the control up all the way, then reduce it until you can make out all the details in the white (such as buttons on a shirt or cracks in the ice). In general, TVs look best when contrast is set between 30 and 50 percent.


Optimize Colour

What it is: Also called saturation, this control adjusts how intense the colors look.

What it does: When there's too much color, the set looks garish and unrealistic. It's most noticeable with reds, which are often accentuated (pushed) by the TV's color decoder. On the other hand, too little color diminishes the impact of the picture, making it look drab. Setting color to zero results in a black-and-white image.

How to set it: If available find an image of someone with light, delicate skin tones, preferably a close-up of a face, on a DVD. Turn up the color control until it looks like the person has sunburn, then reduce it until the skin looks natural, without too much red. If the rest of the colors look too drab, you can increase color slightly at the expense of accurate skin tones.

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