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PS3 Blu-ray settings: Ask the Editors

CNET editors provide the ideal settings for using a Sony PlayStation 3 for Blu-ray playback.

The Sony PlayStation 3 has a lot of settings that pertain to Blu-ray playback. CNET

I had a question regarding hooking up my PS3 to my Panasonic TH-50PZ800U HDTV. I want to use my PS3 as a Blu-ray player for my TV. Would you be able to tell me the best settings/configuration for watching Blu-ray movies? Thanks. -- Khurshid, via e-mail

Well, Khurshid, it's no secret that the PlayStation 3 is the best Blu-ray player-- it's the reference Blu-ray player we use here at CNET, and we're not the only ones. To get the most out of your PS3 as a Blu-ray player, however, you'll need to get the settings right. What follows are the settings we use for our reference PS3 units here at CNET for testing HDTVs, including your Panasonic. The two menus referenced below can be found under the main Settings menu.

BD/DVD menu:

  • Cinema Conversion: Automatic
    This setting affects how the player deals with film- and video-based standard-def material originating on DVD and Blu-ray. Automatic works well to differentiate between the two.

  • Upscale: Normal
    This setting fills the screen properly when dealing with standard-def content converted to high-def by the PS3.

  • BD/DVD Video Output Format (HDMI): Automatic
    This setting affects the color space output via the PS3. RGB is best for video games, which use the same color spce as computers, while Y Pb/Cb Pr/Cr is best for video, including DVD and Blu-ray discs. Auto usually works to detect the source properly, so we recommend most people stick with this setting. If you experience discoloration or other issues, try another setting.

  • BD 1080p 24Hz output (HDMI): Off (for most HDTVs)
    Most Blu-ray discs are encoded at 1080p/24 natively, which means they have 1,920x1,080 pixels per frame delivered at 24 frames per second, the native film rate. Many HDTVs cannot accept 1080p/24, however, and many more can but don't get any benefit from this setting, and can look choppy or otherwise incorrect. Unless your TV is designed to accept 1080p/24 signals--this includes most LCD models with 120Hz processing, as well as select plasmas with different refresh rates--you should leave this setting turned off. For HDTVs that can accept 1080p/24, however, you might notice a benefit leaving it on; check out our 1080p/24 explainer for more info (Khurshid, for your 800U, we recommend choosing Off and ignoring Panasonic's 48Hz mode, which introduces unwelcome flicker). We also recommend avoiding Auto, because it can sometimes mistakenly output an incorrect format.

    Display Settings menu:

  • Video Output Settings: [check all that apply]
    This setting controls the resolution(s) output by the PS3. You should select all of the resolutions with which your TV is compatible. If you have a TV that can accept 1080p signals, you should select all of the check boxes. On HDTVs that cannot accept 1080p, you should check off every resolution except 1080p. The only exception is if you know your TV looks much better with 720p sources than 1080i. If that's the case, we recommend you leave 1080i unchecked as well.

  • Cross Color Reduction Filter: Off
    This setting only applies to S-Video and composite-video output, not HDMI.

  • RGB Full Range (HDMI): Limited
    This setting controls the range of information output via HDMI. Contrary to what you might think, this setting is best left on Limited for video-based material like Blu-ray and DVD for the majority of HDMI televisions. Some newer HDTVs can receive a slight benefit from Full if calibrated properly, but in general Limited is the best choice, and we use it in the lab to ensure compatibility of the reference player with all displays.

  • Y Pb/Cb Pr/Cr Super-White (HDMI): On
    This setting controls whether the PS3 will pass blacker-than-black and whiter-than-white parts of the video signal. It's really only useful during calibration, which is why we leave it turned on. Many discs don't contain material in above white or below black.

    Want more information on PS3 settings, particularly those that pertain to audio? Head on over to this excellent thread on AVS forum where every setting is explained accurately and clearly. You may also find the need to consult the PS3 manual. And if you want recommended picture setting for your HDTV, check out our FAQ.

    What do you think? Do you agree with these settings or do you prefer others, such as RGB Full Range: Full? Are you happy with your PS3's Blu-ray playback in general? Let us know in comments.