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Five Things You Should Do After You Buy an HDTV
Whether you’ve just bought your first HDTV, your second HDTV, or just buying an HDTV, here are some tips for getting the most out of your new TV.
1. Use the right inputs and the right cables
Most televisions offer a wide assortment of inputs, including composite video and audio which uses yellow, red and white RCA connectors and provides the lowest quality signal and not HD. S-Video connectors that use round black connectors are a bit better, but still no HD. Component hookups use 3 video and 2 RCA audio connectors, are still analog, but will get you HD, and are the next best thing to HDMI. The best is HDMI with its small rectangular connectors that provide a high quality digital connection for audio and video.
Our advice is to use HDMI and avoid super cheap cables, on the other hand, don’t be fooled into buying expensive cables from your local big box seller. Most HDMI cables work great for most programs, but some are better. that others. The only reason to spend the extra money is a high-speed (Category 2) compatible cable used for “Deep Color” and lossless audio.
2. Adjust room lights and eliminate glare
One of the easiest ways to make your TV look bad is to throw a lot of light on it, creating glare and reflections. Plasma TVs are particularly prone to glare issues, but LCD screens can also reflect light. Invest in a pair of curtains or place your TV in a room with few windows. Some experts recommend dimming the lights in the room and adding soft light behind the TV.
3. Calibrate, calibrate, calibrate
If there was one thing we could recommend to get the most out of your new TV, it would be to set the TV out of “showroom” mode and into “your room” mode. You can adjust things like brightness, contrast, and sharpness without a calibration disc, but discs (Blu-ray and DVD) aren’t terribly expensive. On the other hand, you can always consider hiring a professional, who will most likely use expensive equipment to give your TV a high-quality calibration.
Here are some options for a do-it-yourself calibration. Remember that a Blu-ray calibration disc on a Blu-ray player will show the best test patterns.
Simple and inexpensive calibration
George Lucas ensured that THX Certified DVDs provide a set of calibration tools in the setup menu. If you don’t already have a THX DVD like “Star Wars”, try Netflix or your local library for one of the DVDs listed on this website. The THX Optimizer will guide you through a set of test patterns so you can adjust contrast, brightness, color/tint, aspect ratio, and sharpness. In the event of a problem, most televisions have a default setting that you can use to restore the factory settings.
Buy a calibration DVD
For around $25 you can invest in a grading disc which can include a set of filters that you look through or hold against the screen to help set the color levels. Spears & Munsil Blu-ray Calibration Disc gets high marks from users. Joe Kane’s Digital Video Essentials (DVE) is another popular tool, along with the Monster/ISF HDTV Calibration Wizard. Tutorials on the drives explain how to perform the tests and what the tests mean.
Call a professional or buy their equipment
If you can afford around $300 to have a specialist from a place like Geek Squad come to your house, you’ll have someone trained to use professional equipment like this colorimeter that sucks the front of your TV and delivers comments to adjust the settings. You can still buy the equipment they use like this SpyderTV analyzer which starts at around $100.
4. Add speakers
Good sound can make a huge difference in how the picture looks. Don’t make the mistake of buying a good quality HDTV and then adding a poor quality set of speakers or home theater system.
Studies have shown that viewers think the picture is better when the sound is better. Most HDTVs have outputs for additional speakers. The first thing you should consider adding is a subwoofer which will boost the bass. A good subwoofer will cost around $100. To experience the full immersive effect of surround sound, you will need to purchase a set of speakers and place them in the room. A 5.1 speaker set that includes a subwoofer could set you back a few hundred dollars for a decent set. Another option is a soundbar that sits under the front of your TV and “projects” simulated surround sound.
5. Ride it
Mounting your large flat screen TV may require more skills and tools than you have on hand, but a TV mounted on a swing arm against a wall in your room can not only make the TV more attractive , it can even improve the viewing experience from the articulated arms. can extend from the wall and be tilted to optimize the viewing angle. They can also make ports easier to access when you want to change the connections on the back of the device. Installers generally warn against mounting a TV too high to avoid stiff necks from “stargazing”.
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