How to calibrate your TV to get the best picture quality

Out of the box, your new TV can look great, but if you want to get the most out of it, take a little time to explore the array of options available to customise the image to your liking. 


Step 1: View the Presets

Most TVs have preset colour and brightness settings that enable quick tweaks to how the image appears on the screen. Switching between presets is often useful when going between a movie or a sports game, without the hassle of modifying each individual colour correction setting each time.

  • Standard & Natural – slight modifications of colour, brightness and contrast. There’s no right or wrong, just personal preference.


  • Theatre – all motion smoothing/colour corrections are disabled to more closely resemble what a director intended.


  • PC/Game – colours don’t change much, but image processing is disabled to decrease lag between your game controller and what appears on the screen.


  • Dynamic/Sport/Vivid – the image appears “punchier” with more saturation and often tuned for watching fast action in bright lighting. 


Step 2: Customise further

Dig a little deeper in your TV’s settings and you will find controls that let you fine-tune the TV’s image. Here’s an explainer of what each variable does:

  • Contrast – how much difference there is between the brightest colour and blackest black. To adjust contrast, bring up a bright picture and adjust the contrast slider so that the image is bright and clear, but with good detail and not washed out.


  • Brightness – find a dark movie and play around until you get good detail in the image, without dark areas looking grey. An image that’s too bright will appear washed out.


  • Backlight – on some TVs you can also adjust the strength of the display’s backlight. You may find that a lower setting on this can reduce eye fatigue. If you have a well-lit area you might like a brighter image.


  • Colour Saturation – you can set this right back to black and white or ramp it up until everything looks like a clown costume. You’ll most likely prefer it somewhere in the middle.


  • Colour Temperature – adjusts the red and blue colours in your TV. Choose more blue for a cooler feel, more red for warmth. It’s best to start in the middle and slowly adjust cooler or warmer from there.


  • Motion-smoothing – quicker refresh rates and faster processors in modern TVs make the need for motion smoothing less important, but you will want this turned off for movies, but turned on for sports. 


  • Defaults – if you’ve tweaked the colour settings too much and just want to go back to how it was out of the box, select this option and the changes you’ve made will be reversed.


Step 3: Professional calibration

To get exactly what the director of your favourite movie intended you to see, you can get third-party products to calibrate your television to industry standards. Here are a few options for next-level calibration:

  • THX tune-up – available for both iOS and Android, this smartphone app requires you to connect your device to your TV via HDMI. Once connected it provides a guided walkthrough to change the TV settings to match what THX recommends for optimal viewing. 


  • Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark and Calibration Disc – much like the THX tune-up app, this Blu-Ray disc includes various calibration and test patterns for major TV picture controls. It is used by many professional TV installers to ensure the image displayed meets their high standards.

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