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Discussion Starter #1
Updated 2011.05.11. 38,691 Previous views

What you need to do to your new HDTV:

Here are some hints to get your HDTV in tip-top shape, to get the best possible picture, and to see the movies and shows as the directors intended.

All TVs can benefit from a proper optimization since none of them come from the manufacturer properly set up.


1. There are specific standards on how to set up a TV so that it looks exactly like it should (like the studios and directors intended). It is obvious when you look at a number of TVs displayed in a store that none of them meet this standard - all the TVs look different - colours vary, etc.

2. Your HDTV, as set up by the manufacturer, may not even be close to this reference standard. This is because they set up TVs to look good in brightly-lit stores and to attract your attention. Those settings make the TV much too bright and the colours much too vivid for use at home. We call this "Torch Mode". Newer TVs typically now ask if the TV is going to be used in store or at home. The at home mode (often called standard or normal or similar) is a bit better than the previously mentioned torch mode, however, it is still not accurate.

3. This "torch mode" can even cause premature failure of your HDTV because the contrast, brightness, colour, etc are all set so high that they can harm/tax your TV. These settings need to be changed.

4. See the following article on optimizing your Home Theatre:

Why you should optimize your Home Theatre - Digital Home : Digital Home

How To:

4. There are several setup DVDs available that can assist you in setting up your new HDTV by yourself. The main three are:

AVIA (Ovation)
Digital Video Essentials (DVE)
Sound and Vision Home Theater Tune Up (co-developed by Ovation and S&V)
There are also some newer BDs available that do the same.

The latter two are the least expensive and have everything you need to set up your HDTV. AVIA has some test patterns that the others do not, intended for the technophiles and professionals. These DVDs are available on-line or from your local electronics stores. You may be able to borrow them from the library, or rent them from Blockbuster. Make sure that the 3 filters are in tha AVIA box and the one, blue filter is in the S&V box.

Some people believe they can simply use the settings from someone else. This is simply not true. Here's why (This is explained again in the videos below):

Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums - View Single Post - Sharp LC-45D40U Setup

For people who wish further explanation on why to optimize and how to optimize, please see the following links which have two excellent 5 minute videos discussing the basics.

Calibration explained

Calibration in detail

5. If you are not technically inclined, you can hire someone, like an ISF technician, to set up your HDTV. He will do even more than is possible with the setup disk. The cost may be around $3-500.

Here's a link to ISF: Imaging Science Foundation, Inc.

6. If you are going to attempt the optimization yourself, I'd suggest you watch the setup DVD first to get an idea of what needs to be done and then use the DVD later, or on another evening to do the actual setup. You can do this setup as soon as you get the TV home. The TV will change a little over time, so minor touchups may be in order once in a while.

7. Before you attempt the optimization, you need to turn off all of the automatic settings on your TV, as these typically make the picture worse rather than better. They also hinder the process, so you need to turn them off and leave them off. (For example turn off Auto-Colour, Black Level, Perfect Picture, SVM, etc). Most HDTVs also have a "colour temperature" setting. The warmest colour setting is (almost) always the closest to the NTSC standard. You must choose the temperature setting FIRST, and then optimize, since this setting will affect the tint, colour, etc.

8. When doing your optimization, do it on the "custom, user, preference, expert" picture mode, or if those aren't available, use movie or cinema (usually the last one in the list of picture modes). Many HDTVs today will remember the settings for each input, so if you optimize only one input, you'll need to copy the settings over to other used inputs, otherwise they'll still be on the default settings.

It's best to do the optimization under low light conditions (at night or in a darkened room). If you watch the TV under bright light, perhaps do a second optimization on a different picture mode so that you can switch back and forth if desired.

When you initially get your TV, and are not ready to optimize yet, chose a mode other than the default Vivid/Dynamic mode. Once you're ready to optimize, then choose the mode recommended above, if that wasn't the mode you picked.

What about the other inputs on the TV and the other devices connected?

See: Calibration on different inputs - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums

Do you need to wait - "burn in" the TV for 100 hours? No - see the following posts from those who optimize TVs.

Panasonic TCP58S1 or Samsung PN58B540 - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums


Once you have done all of this, your HDTV will look as it was intended, will last longer and also will provide you with the best possible picture. At first you may not "like" the settings, because they will look "different" from what you have been used to. Give it at least a week and then you will never go back to watching a set in "torch mode" again.

Sometimes the settings may not be exactly to your liking, even after a week. Feel free to tweak the settings a bit by eye. Not all TV channels provide excellent quality images, so you can increase or decrease colour, contrast, brightness or sharpness a few percent either way, so that the set looks good to you. This can be a bit of a compromise between the various channels. For example some channels may look too "red or green" while others look "washed out".

Another good FAQ on the subject:

If anyone has any comments or suggestions for this post, please PM 57.

Super Moderator
56,523 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Burn in (Should be called uneven phosphor wear - applicable only to Plasmas and CRTs):

Burn in is what you can get if you leave your TV in "Torch mode" and also if you watch a lot of static images on your TV (Plasma and CRT). We recommend that you do not watch a huge amount of 4:3 images on a Plasma or CRT. If you do, after several months, you can do irreversible damage to your TV with "burn in". Also, playing the same video game or any other input that has a static image displayed on the screen for hours a night for months in a row may result in burn in.

Most manufacturers of CRT-based and plasma TVs say that you should limit any static images to a maximum of 15-20% of the time that the TV is on. For more information on the topic, see the FAQ on burn in. Now that there is a lot of programming available in HD, burn in is less of an issue since people are watching less 4:3, however, if you do watch more than say 20% SD (or any static image that's the same, you may be setting yourself up for burn in.

FAQ - Burn In & Break In. - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums

Note that LCD (LED) TVs typically don't get burn in. There have been reports of burn in on LCD (LED)s if the same image is left on screen for an extremely long time, however it's not usually a concern.

Super Moderator
56,523 Posts
Discussion Starter #4

The screen will get fingerprinted and dirty. Do not use any solvents or Windex-type cleaning products on the screen. Use a clean, soft, warm, damp cloth only, (not wet, since you don't want any liquids getting into the works). A microfibre cloth works well. Wipe dry with a soft cloth. You may also purchase a screen cleaning product from an electronics store for about $10-20.

Vacuum dust and cobwebs from the back of the set periodically to ensure proper ventillation and to prevent dust buildup in the area that can get inside and on your electronics or mirror (if applicable) or on the back of the screen.

Once a year, disconnect all your cables from your components, clean the contacts and reconnect the cables to ensure a good and proper connection. This will also allow you to clean these areas for proper ventillation. You, of course, have both ends of all of your cables labelled for easy reconnection...
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