Simple TV settings modifications to make ASAP for higher image high quality

9 quick TV settings changes that'll hugely improve your picture quality

The default shade on many TVs is just too blue, however a fast tweak can enhance accuracy.

David Katzmaier/CNET

Your TV’s image settings menu could be overwhelming, however that does not imply you possibly can’t make a couple of small modifications to make watching your favourite exhibits, having fun with 4K HDR motion pictures and enjoying video video games even higher. With a pair straightforward tweaks to your TV image settings, colours can look extra correct, movement can look extra pure and brightness could be adjusted for snug day and nighttime viewing. It solely takes a couple of seconds to vary your image mode. You may even give TV calibration a attempt, if you’d like extra choices for optimum TV watching. 

Learn extra: Greatest TV offers for Black Friday 2021 to date

A phrase of warning earlier than we start: Image setting names are in every single place. A setting one TV-maker calls “brightness” might management one thing completely totally different on one other set, for instance. We deal with a number of the variations beneath, however we will not account for each TV-maker, particularly on older fashions, so your mileage could differ.

Begin with the suitable image mode


The best method to get correct shade? Put your TV in Film or Cinema mode.

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Brett Pearce/CNET

Your TV’s image mode has the biggest impact on total image high quality. This one setting controls a number of different settings to vary the general “look” of your TV. When you’ve by no means modified this setting it is in all probability nonetheless the default mode, sometimes labeled Commonplace, Vivid, Dynamic, Vibrant or one thing related. The TV is its least correct on this mode, with sometimes blown-out colours and picture “enhancing” options that may catch the attention on a shelf in a retailer, however at dwelling would possibly make the TV look worse than it might. 

A spot to start out is switching to the mode known as Cinema, Film, Calibrated or Filmmaker. These will dial again among the image’s extra garish features. At first, the TV would possibly even look comfortable or too heat (“reddish”). We’ll focus on beneath why that’s, however for now belief that you simply’re really seeing extra wonderful element, and the picture is extra lifelike. 

Learn extraWhat’s the most effective image mode?

Let’s transfer on to some particular controls.

Backlight or OLED mild

  • Controls the sunshine depth of your entire show
  • Too excessive and it could trigger complications or eye pressure, waste power and, in some instances, trigger untimely put on on the TV
  • Too low and the picture is just too dim and tough to see

Almost all TVs could have some management that adjusts the general mild output of the TV. It is normally labeled because the backlight management, or OLED mild, or one thing related. On newer Sony TVs this setting is labeled Brightness, and on Roku TVs there are 5 settings (Brightest to Darkest) along with a backlight management. Regardless of the label, this setting is the precise brightness, which is usually separate from the management labeled “Brightness” (see beneath). 

You must modify this setting based mostly on room lighting and private desire. Brighter rooms and daylight viewing will name for a better setting, whereas dwelling theater or nighttime viewing usually appears to be like higher at a decrease setting. On an LCD TV, a vivid backlight can wash out the picture considerably and cut back distinction and pop, particularly on fashions that lack full array native dimming

The brighter the TV is, the extra power it should devour, in case you’re involved about how a lot electrical energy you utilize. Greater brightness additionally makes OLED TVs considerably extra inclined to picture retention and burn-in — though that is unlikely with typical viewing habits, even at most brightness. 

Learn extra: OLED display burn-in: What it’s essential know in 2021


On the left, what the picture of some pleasant beachside ‘roos ought to appear like. On the suitable, when the distinction management is ready too excessive. Discover the dearth of element within the sand and the way the clouds are blown out.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

  • Controls the white or vivid components of a picture
  • Too excessive will erase element from clouds, snow and different vivid objects
  • Too low will look dim and flat

The distinction management adjusts how vivid the intense components of the picture are. There may be an higher restrict, nevertheless. When you set the management too excessive, it “clips” the whites, making near-white particulars completely white. This successfully erases any element in vivid objects like clouds with out making the picture really brighter.

To set distinction by eye, you will want one thing with a number of vivid areas of the picture. Baseball works fairly nicely for this — a fly ball, pop fly, dwelling runs, one thing with pictures of the sky — or snowboarding (relying on season, clearly) or one thing with clouds. What you are on the lookout for is a vivid picture, however nonetheless with spotlight element. In different phrases, the intense areas of the picture nonetheless have element, and are not simply awash in white. 

As soon as you’ve got discovered one thing you suppose will work, flip the distinction management up till you begin shedding element. Clouds will stop being clouds, snow will simply be glare. Now flip the management again down until you see element once more. Someplace on this vary can be very best. Since all content material is a bit of totally different you would possibly must tweak it a bit as you watch different exhibits/motion pictures.

Do not wish to mess with all that? Simply go away it on the default for the Film or Cinema setting.

Brightness or black degree

On the left, what the teahouse ought to appear like. On the suitable, when the brightness management is ready too low. Discover how the shadows disappear fully.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

  • Controls the black or darkish components of a picture
  • Too excessive will look flat and washed out
  • Too low will erase element in shadows and darkish areas of the picture

On most TVs, the brightness management does not really management the TV’s “brightness.” As a substitute, it adjusts how darkish the darkest components of the picture are. Like with distinction, there is a wonderful line between too excessive and too low. On this case, too excessive and the picture will seem washed out. Too low and all shadows will disappear into black. (On newer Sony TVs, this management is labeled Black Stage.)


A closeup from the picture above. Discover how one can’t see something within the shadows within the picture on the suitable.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

To set brightness, you are on the lookout for the other sort of content material from distinction. Darkish motion pictures, like Aliens or The Darkish Knight, are excellent for this. Some famously darkish TV episodes is perhaps too darkish to make use of for this. 

Flip the Brightness management down till the whole lot disappears into blackness (or one thing shut). From there, flip it again up so you possibly can see element in the whole lot, however the picture does not look washed out. One other take a look at for it is a darker scene with somebody with lengthy hair. The underside of their hair (I do not know what individuals with hair name it) away from the sunshine generally is a good place to identify shadow element — additionally darkish coats at night time. Once more, you would possibly must attempt a couple of totally different exhibits or motion pictures to get it proper.


On the left, the unique picture of the partitions of Tallinn. On the suitable, what it might appear like in case you set the sharpness management too excessive.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

  • Controls synthetic edge enhancement, not picture sharpness
  • Too excessive erases picture element, provides a halo to wonderful strains
  • Relying on the TV, set to 0 there is no impact, or a slight softening

Imagine it or not, the sharpness management does not actually enhance sharpness. In a means it improves obvious sharpness, however on the expense of precise wonderful element and normally with further noise. On practically all TVs the sharpness management provides “edge enhancement,” artificially accentuating any edges the TV finds within the picture. The issue is, doing this hides the precise element within the picture, so the outcome appears to be like extra synthetic with much less precise element.


A detailed-up of the instance above. Word the additional noise and synthetic “halo” across the spires on the suitable.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

So it might appear counterintuitive, however you must flip the sharpness management down, means down. Some TVs look finest with the management at 0. Others look finest inside the first 10% or so of this management’s vary. When you’re used to how your TV appears to be like with the sharpness management means up, because it sometimes is within the Dynamic or Vivid modes, it’d seem comfortable at first while you flip it down. Discover some high-quality 4K content material and also you is perhaps shocked how detailed it now appears to be like. You must have the ability to discover the candy spot in your TV wanting intently for textures in clothes, wrinkles in faces, hair and beards, that form of factor.

Learn extraWhy it’s essential flip down your TV’s sharpness management

Coloration and tint

  • Controls shade saturation and red-green shift
  • A holdover from the analog TV days
  • Usually can be appropriate, or shut sufficient, out of the field

Usually, the shade and tint controls can be fairly near appropriate out of the field, particularly in Cinema or Film mode. You may experiment with their results, but it surely’s uncommon they’re off by multiple or two steps in both course.


On the prime, the colour temperature is ready too low, or heat. On the backside, it is set too excessive, or cool.

Geoffrey Morrison

Coloration temperature or white steadiness

  • Controls how heat or cool the picture appears to be like
  • Too excessive and the picture can be too blue
  • Too low and the picture can be too purple

Coloration temperature is a tough one. Your mind will get used to the colour temp of your TV, so in case you change it, it’ll appear “improper.” In reality, that is in all probability the very first thing you will discover in case you swap to the Cinema or Film mode. It is going to look too heat or “reddish.” On most TVs, that is really probably the most correct and lifelike. Your TV has been mendacity to you for years! 

Change to your TV’s heat shade temperature mode and watch it for a couple of days. If it nonetheless appears off to you, attempt the usual mode. I promise the cool mode will look far too blue when you get used to heat.

Take a look at my article on shade temp and why it issues for more information.

Movement interpolation or smoothing (the cleaning soap opera impact)

Soap opera effect smoothing tom cruise Vizio

David Katzmaier/CNET
  • Controls how “easy” movement is by artificially creating new frames of video
  • Too excessive, and even enabled in any respect, it may be annoying to some
  • Too low and the TV would possibly seem comfortable with movement, comparable to sports activities

As TV settings go, movement interpolation is a slightly controversial matter. Many individuals, together with movie purists and just about everybody who works in Hollywood, hate it. It makes motion pictures appear like an affordable cleaning soap opera or a video you’d shoot in your cellphone. When you’ve ever checked out a brand new TV and simply felt one thing was off, or the picture simply did not look actual, it is in all probability this. Some individuals prefer it, however lots of people do not. Your new TV virtually actually has this function turned on in non-Cinema or Film modes. Turning it off would possibly change how you are feeling about your buy.

Learn extra: Cleaning soap opera impact: Tom Cruise needs you to show it off. Here is how

Sport mode

  • Reduces enter lag, or how lengthy it takes in your enter to register onscreen
  • Normally disables options that may make the picture higher
  • Helpful for any recreation that requires timing or aiming, particularly on-line multiplayer

Enter lag is how lengthy it takes so that you can press a button on a recreation controller after which to have an onscreen impact within the recreation. For many individuals this delay, measured in milliseconds, is not noticeable. For others, particularly with sure sorts of video games, it could make an enormous distinction. From leaping puzzles to pixel-perfect intention in a first-person shooter, getting the timing proper in lots of video games is essential. 

Minimizing enter lag, normally through a function known as recreation mode, could make a big distinction. When you’ve purchased a brand new TV and out of the blue your scores and rankings have dropped, this is perhaps why. It isn’t one thing you wish to go away enabled on a regular basis, because it normally disables processing options that may enhance the TV’s image high quality.

Some TVs and consoles now assist switching to this mode robotically.

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Further steps

As mentioned above, the next step to fine-tuning your TV to perfection is getting a setup disc. The Spears & Munsil disc is a great option because it gets you right to the patterns without any extraneous fluff. If you just want someone else to do it, ideally with specialized test equipment, see if there are any TV calibrators in your area.

Lastly, make sure any sources you have, like a streaming stick or a cable or satellite box, are set to your TV’s resolution (4K for 4K TVs, etc). Generally speaking they should do this automatically, but it’s worth digging into the settings to be sure. Your 4K TV won’t look its best without 4K content. You might need to pay for a higher tier to get that, depending on the service. 

Lastly, HDMI. Chances are whatever HDMI cables you have are fine. If you try to send 4K from a media streamer and it doesn’t work, it’s possible your HDMI cables can’t handle the additional resolution. Fortunately, new HDMI cables are cheap. If your TV is getting the resolution you want from your sources, new HDMI cables won’t make the image look or sound better, so you can save your money. 

As well as covering TV and other display tech, Geoff does photo tours of cool museums and locations around the world, including nuclear submarinesmassive aircraft carriersmedieval castlesairplane graveyards and more. 

You can follow his exploits on Instagram and YouTube, and on his travel blog, BaldNomad. He also wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-size submarines, along with a sequel

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