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back to article How to set up your HDTV like a pro

Back in the old days, when you bought – or rented – a television set, someone would deliver it, set it up and tune it in for you. And there was a very good chance that when they did that, they’d be able to find a channel broadcasting a testcard without much difficulty, and use that to make sure all the picture settings were …

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British AV forums

AVS forum is American and can be very US centric; the long established British site AVforums.com can be just as helpful and knowledgeable and more friendly to British users.

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Troll

So...

...I'll need to use a test-card, a blue gel, and a colorimiter every time I close the curtains or turn on the light, or a cloud goes past, or in fact anything else that will change the ambient light?

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WTF?

Whats the point?

"An ISF technician will access the hidden service menus on a TV and use a colorimeter to make sure everything is set up more accurately than you’ll be able to do it with the naked eye."

What's the point in cailbrating something more accurately than the eye can see if you are only every going to watch it with one (or 2) of those same eyes?

Surely the best way to calibrate your own TV is with your own eyes. Just because a machine can determine more colours, doesn't mean it's going to be the best for your eyes/brain. If you have an eye defect then the best picture for you will be different than the best picture for someone else?

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Another option - Any THX mastered DVD...

Most THX DVDs have a picture and sound calibration tool on them. If you have a DVD of The Incredibles you'll find it hidden away on that.

Its pretty simple but since running through it I havent had to adjust and fiddle with the picture levels.

Gets good results as a starting point.

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BBC HD test card

The BBC broadcasts on their HD test channel an audio sync test and the famous test card. If you have a PVR, and you manage to catch the tests you just pause the test and follow the instructions below on how to set your TV up.

"The new promo is on air now. Here are the timings you need if want to record the testcard and A/V sync signal.

1. Check the time the last programme of the day finishes

2. Set a manual record starting 25 mins later for 15 mins for testcard

3. Set another manual record starting 35 mins later (1 hour after the last programme finishes) for 15 mins for the A/V signalmins"

(from the comments as the new promo messed with the body text timing.)

From:<http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/a_christmas_present_from_the_h.html>

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Headmaster

Another guide

Not to diss the experts at El Reg, but here's another guide that was written by a pro:

http://www.curtpalme.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10457

Not the comments on the spyder and the use of the blue gel sheet...

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personally

i just stick on a dvd or blu-ray and tweak it til it looks right, i don't really care how it's setup as long as it looks good to me.

I've tried proper setups, as THX dvd's tend to have a THX calibration option on them, but it usually looks wrong to me afterwards, either too dark, dodgy contrast or odd colours.

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nice on el reg

the amount of time i go round to my mates to be half blinded by there factory setting TV's is crazy. "but its HD its ment to be colourful" argh! skin is ment to be pinky beige not orange (unless there watching hollyoaks....)

just turning off sharpness and setting to normal coolness makes me feel so much better.

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Badgers

Come on REG do you home work!!

Guys guys guys!!!

Anyone who's a mass AV fanatic sod's and has the money to buy THX certified AV equipment goes to www.thx.com. Even if you dont have THX kit get the THX glass's and and thx DVD and get calibrating

This is audio & visual calibration designed speciffically by george lucas to replicate sound and picture as you are intended to see it and her it.

In short a set of glass's at £5.00 found on a none namble auction site or from www.thx.com online store and any thx certified dvd and your TV is calibrated in a min or two.

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Go

TL,DR Version

Go to the AVS forum (www.avsforum.com).

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Excellent timing!

I come back from the shop with a new telly, I sit down to El Reg with my afternoon tea, and I find an article telling me how to make it look good. (Er, that would be the telly, not the tea.) Thanks.

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Anonymous Coward

Movies with test patterns

I'm under the understanding that several movies come with THX test patterns that can be used as well. I think Pixar movies all ship with THX test patterns.

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Anonymous Coward

ISF

In many ways if you are astute enough and sufficiently concerned about picture quality to attempt a visual calibration, you ought to put your hand into your pocket and find the money for an ISF calibration. Once you've seen a reasonable quality display setup by a calibrator everything else just looks wrong somehow.

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Aye, well, but...

you spend thirty years in the Beeb doing that kind of thing on a professional sort of basis, you set your sister's new flat-screen up as good as it will go, and *still* her thick-as-a-brick husband winds the contrast up, the black level down, and the chroma up as soon as your back's turned.

I don't know why we bother, I really don't.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Drew Percival

I don't want to see and hear the world the way George Lucas does, thank you very much.

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Joke

I need help

Please send me an HDTV right away so I can see if this all works.

Thankx much.

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Was easy on mine

I've got a Westinghouse 37" set. I poped in a THX DVD that had some test paterns, got things balanced pretty good (out of the box it was WAY too bright, and had some off color balances).

It's nice enough to maintain per-input settings. The wife doesn't even know where to find the TV remote, let alone who to get to the right menus to screw with it, so she's not an issue.

I did my fathers TV when he got a new one, and noticed the next time I was there it was comletely out of whack. not to mention, he'd been using both the set top box AND the TV's image stretch features, and his 16:9 image was all stretched out and didn't fit the screen right, I had to reset both to "normal" seperately and program his remotes so he stopped using more than 1. Then i reprogrammed his TV and took advantage of a "parental controls" feature and locked the menus for image adjustment with a password so he couldn't screw it up again...

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Unhappy

East Enders anyone?

Repeats of The Two Ronnies, etc etc. Why bother

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No setup will cure pixelation

That seems to appear on some sets. Recently I visited a nice motel in Southern California. They had a nice LG wide screen "hi def" television. If you didn't look too close it was "OK", but with a little closer inspection, all the pictures were very pixelated. Downright terrible. I don't know what they had at the other end of the cable feeding the TV, but whatever it was, it just didn't do the trick. I saw better quality transmissions on a 5 year old CRT TV in 4:3 aspect ratio.

Just remember, no adjustment can cure bad quality source material, or a bad transmission path (even with good quality source material). The analog TV signals we used to have here in the USA were actually quite good in comparison to some of the signals I now see (*SIGH*).

Just because you have a nice wide screen doesn't mean it is "hi def".

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@Drew Percival

"This is audio & visual calibration designed speciffically by george lucas to replicate sound and picture as you are intended to see it and her it."

Nice of you to credit GL with this, but really, he didn't design it.

If he did, it would just set up your AV kit to insert a wipe scene transition every 5 minutes with a crappy dialogue

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Alert

HDTV

This is setup for any TV ever...

since about 1936.

Color 1951

Colour 1970

CRT, LCD or Plasma. HD or Not.

It's important that European people who are indoors types have cream skin, not orange.

If everything is at correct setting rather than turned up to 11, everything lasts longer.

LCD filter dyes fade

Backlights get dimmer.

Keep LCDs out of direct sunlight.

Plasmas and CRTs fade quicker if colour and brightness is higher.

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Headmaster

@HERBY

Large widescreens aren't meant to be viewed "close up" and will look "pixelated"... the whole idea is they look good at the correct viewing distance. You've also got the problem with artefacts around moving objects which is very noticable close up on large screens.

Analog CRT may look "smooth" because of the technology, but they were always fuzzy with annoying flicker the wider they got..

Now, hidef CRT, looked pretty special, but were huge and cost a fortune. Pretty rare too, unless you were stateside or Japan.

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Linux

Guess you not a star wars fan them!

infact GL founded thx, and no doubt he had a team of people specking it out with him so technically your right but it is his system and I bet the green bucks end up in his account!

But as long as my THX cert system and speakers shake the ground and the sound fill the air with pristine replication of what’s happing on my screen when I watch a movie, what do I care when I'm tucking into the a box of pop corn who actually designed and spec'ed each bit.

Note to self

turn the sound up on the intro to a film with the lion roar as it starts next time next door cat decides to look at the lawn then me with a shady smile with intent on leaving an unwelcomed gift!

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re: @Herby

"Now, hidef CRT, looked pretty special, but were huge and cost a fortune. Pretty rare too, unless you were stateside or Japan."

Have had HD CRT in the past - wasn't brilliant (think it was the Samsung HD CRT reviewed on here many moons ago). Problem with CRT screens that are big enough to support HD starts having trouble with geometry. A LOT of setting up required, service menus were a necessity, not a luxury. Bravia LCD all the way for me now

I do find it amusing whenever I see AV fans who set someone's TV up and then get angry when they change it. Personal preference always wins - who are you to say what looks "better". High contrast, orange skin tones (difficult to tell if that's the source material these days!), as long as the person viewing is happy, leave them be. Then they can marvel at your TV when they come round!

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Pint

Cheers El Reg

New Philips Full-HD telly arrived yesterday. And I'm sure the wife would also like to thank you, now that I'm going to be spending half the weekend (the half when the Ashes ISN'T on, obviously) fiddling with the picture!

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BBC Test card...

Good Grief! That young girl must be a grandmother by now! Are they still using that image?? Remember it from my black-and-white days!

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Can make a difference

Fortunatley for me there was a link deep in a thread on AVForums which had some allegedly good settings for my LCD. I put them on, and at first the pic looked a bit dark, but now I quite like it. The default now makes me need sunglasses.

My dad got an LCD and asked me to tweak it, so I found the settings and did so. On my next visit it lookedreally bright, so I asked him about the settings and he said he'd changed it back as it was too dark!

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Where's the Mylene Klass icon?

All this talk about TV test cards and not a single mention of Mylene?

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Internet tests

For those with an internet connection try:

http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/

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LCD / CRT

But I _still_ can't get my Sony Bravia to reproduce as many flesh tones as my Sony WEGA - try them side-by-side ....

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BBC Test Card

For those with freeview (which has no HD services but never mind):

1) Goto channel 105 and wait for the screen to load. Press yellow

2) Tune out and back in to 105. Now press Green ("Secret" appears in the top right before the Status Page appears)

3) Now press green again for Test Card W :-)

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