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TV picture settings menus compared

Every aspiring videophile knows that correct settings can make or break a TV's picture quality. Many of today's HDTVs offer an overwhelming variety of settings, from basic preset modes to advanced options for color, video processing, and more. Adjusting them properly takes some doing--see HDTV tune-up tips and picture settings for specific TVs--but first the controls actually have to be available to begin with. In the following screenshots we'll take a look at the settings available in the latest, higher-end TVs we've reviewed (note that not every TV from the same maker has all of these settings).

First up is LG, which has historically offered the best selection of picture settings of any maker. In 2010 it's still superb--although Samsung is arguably as good now--and anchored by more presets than anybody, including two THX modes on many models.

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LG plasma APS setting

Another preset mode LG uses exclusively on its plasma TVs is called the Auto Power Saver. It employs a sensor that takes over the other settings to adjust image parameters according to room lighting.

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Samsung main picture menu

Samsung's slick-looking transparent menu system offers four presets on some models, as well as a top-level "Eco" menu for power saver controls.

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Sony main picture menu

Sony offers a good number of settings itself, and new for 2010 you can apply your changes globally ("common") or individually to specific inputs.

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Panasonic main picture menu

Panasonic's revamped 2010 menus still look somewhat basic compared with the competition, but functionality is solid. Its THX mode, available on higher-end models, is adjustable, unlike LGs'.

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Vizio main picture menu

Vizio has mostly basic settings, but we do appreciate that its picture menu shares the aesthetics one of the company's apps, which enhances the integrated feel.

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Toshiba main picture menu

Among other settings, Toshiba offers an Auto picture preset that takes over the other picture settings to respond to picture content.

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Mitsubishi main picture menu

Mitsubishi's menu system is cluttered and difficult to navigate, but the main settings are all present and accounted for.

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JVC main menu

JVC just lumps all of its settings into one big menu. Selection is also less-comprehensive than on most of the others.

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LG advanced menu

LG's main initial selection of advanced adjustments is pretty extensive, although many are only available in Expert mode.

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Samsung advanced menu

Samsung splits its advanced controls over two menus, and one, labeled "picture options," contains LED-specific settings not found on other makers' local-dimming sets.

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Samsung 3D settings

Samsung's 3D models offer numerous options for tweaking the 3D effect.

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Sony advanced settings

Sony's menus have more important-sounding proprietary names than most TVs, and we recommend you leave most of these settings turned off.

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Panasonic advanced settings

Panasonic has a smattering of options available in its advanced menu, but we recommend you avoid 48Hz--unless you like flicker.

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Vizio advanced settings

The options found on Vizio's in-depth menu are fairly standard, and we found no difference between any of the Real Cinema settings.

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Toshiba advanced settings

Toshiba's advanced menu is a sort of jumping off point for the various submenus. Many of them are of questionable value, however.

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Toshiba control visualization

One of the least useful, albeit cool-looking, is the "control visualization" screen.

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Mitsubishi advanced settings

The big-screen company definitely needs a big screen to contain all of its settings, which look more like a service menu than a polished user interface.

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LG 10-point color temperature controls

With the capability to adjust the color temperature, or grayscale, at 10 different points from black to white, LG offers obsessive tweakers hours of fun.

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LG 20-point color temperature controls

We like the 10-point system, but 20 seems like overkill.

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Samsung color temperature controls

Samsung's two-point system is standard, allowing basic tweaking of the grayscale beyond the color temperature presets.

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Samsung 10-point color temperature controls

Following LG's lead, Samsung upped the ante to a 10-point system of its own in 2010. It doesn't work quite as well, but it still allows improvements over the two-point system.

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Sony color temperature controls

Sony's two-point system is standard, but the maxed-by-default gain controls are somewhat of a limitation.

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Panasonic color temperature controls

Panasonic finally added fine color temperature settings to its two higher-end series, including the popular G models. For some reason, however, the company omits the green color control from its two-point system, which can make adjustment more difficult.

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Toshiba color temperature controls

Aside from the strange numeric designations for color temperature, Toshiba's two-pointer doesn't try to reinvent the wheel.

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Sony dejudder settings

Sony's two preset options for dejudder, or smoothing, control, rob tweakers of the option to disable smoothing but still keep antiblur processing.

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Samsung dejudder control

Samsung was the first to offer adjustment beyond the basic presets for its dejudder controls, and they work very well to both adjust and remove the smoothing effect, whether or not you want to maximize antiblur.

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LG dejudder settings

New for 2010, LG's LCDs offer a fine control for dejudder. Too bad it doesn't work as well as Samsung's.

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