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Five steps to a better-looking TV: Home Entertainment

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Home Entertainment: Five steps to a better-looking TV

3:27 /

New TVs ship with settings that make them look good in the store, not in your living room. Sharon Vaknin shares some easy ways to get your picture looking the way you want it.

To fully uncover your TV's potential, you have to go beyond the default settings the screen ships with, and that's because the TV needs to be customized for your room specifically. So, here are 5 tips to help you get a better TV picture. First, disable any extra smart features like the soap opera effect. That's the setting that tries to reduce blur, but really just makes everything look like another episode of Days of our Lives. On this Samsung, the setting is called Auto Motion Plus, and it can be turned off in picture options. For this TV, I also have options for things like Digital Noise Filter and MPEG Noise Filter in that same menu. Turn off those extra features too. Before you go any further, check to make sure the aspect ratio is correct. I can't tell you how many times I see this TV setups where the picture is cut off because the resolution is set incorrectly. For most TVs, you'll find access to that setting on the remote like this picture size button. In this menu, there are few options like: 16:9, 4:3, wide fit, and so on. If the shape of the picture looks funny as you switch between sources like DVDs or even older TV programming, you may need to adjust the aspect ratios that it fits the content. Like aspect ratio, make a habit of accessing your TV's modes as you switch between programming. For example, on this TV we've got Dynamic, Standard, Natural, and Movie. But on many TVs, you'll also see options like Sports and Games. You can also use one of these as the basis for some fine tuning. So, I can choose Dynamic, for example, and then head over to backlight, brightness, contrast, and color for incremental tweaks. There's a lot to cover here, so check out my video on how to calibrate your TV by I, to find out what these settings mean and how to set them correctly. If freestyling menu options sounds scary, we've got a cheat sheet for you. Whenever CNET's TV expert David Katzmaier reviews a new TV, he also posts recommended picture settings for it in our CNET Forums. His posts include all the basics, but he also dives into specific color settings, white balance, and even those extra features we talked about. If you don't see a cheat sheet for you TV, give TweakTV a try. It's another trusted resource with a huge library of recommended settings. Now, if you really wanna get your hands dirty and adjust your settings so that the screen is unique to your room specifically, you're going to wanna get a calibration disc. These are DVDs that take you step-by-step through a calibration process where you'll adjust TV settings using the help of onscreen graphics. One example is Disney's World of Wonder Blu-ray DVD. What's great about this guy is that there are options for amateur and advanced users plus the whole process is super user-friendly. It's about 20 bucks on Amazon and when you're done, you can pass it on to your friend. With these tapes you should be well on your way to a better looking TV, but if you have any questions about the process, hit me up on Twitter and check out howto.cnet.com for the full written guide for this video. For CNET.com, I'm Sharon Vaknin.
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