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Take a Tour Inside CNET's TV Test Lab

Our TV reviews use side-by-side testing and state-of-the-art equipment. Peek behind the curtain.

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David Katzmaier

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Bobby Oliver

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Sarah Tew

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How we test TV's in the CNET Lab
1 of 16 David Katzmaier/CNET

Welcome to CNET's TV test lab!

CNET reviewers compare big screens side-by-side in a light-controlled space using a variety of test equipment, source devices, software and a comfy couch.

Behind the curtains lies the TV lab
2 of 16 David Katzmaier/CNET

Behind the curtain

Our TV lab is closed off from the rest of the product-testing space by a theatrical curtain, which allows full control of lighting within the lab.

TV lab testing equipment
3 of 16 David Katzmaier/CNET

Measurements

Inside the lab we arrange the TVs and set up a specialized meter, the Konica Minolta CS-2000 spectroradiometer (which costs about $28,000), to measure brightness, color and more.

TV lab testing equipment
4 of 16 David Katzmaier/CNET

Evaluation software

We use Portrait Displays Calman Ultimate to control the spectroradiometer and a signal generator to aid in the evaluation process. Most of the figures in the CNET's TV reviews, including color, brightness, black level, gamma and more, are derived from Calman reports.

David Katzmaier in the CNET Lab
5 of 16 Bobby Oliver/CNET

Oh look, there's Katzmaier

CNET's head of TV reviews, David Katzmaier, has extensive experience reviewing and calibrating displays.

TV testing in darkness with curtains closed
6 of 16 David Katzmaier/CNET

Going dark

Drawing the curtains allows complete darkness in the lab, which is ideal for comparing the TVs' raw picture quality, without the influence of ambient light.

How we test TV's in the CNET Lab
7 of 16 David Katzmaier/CNET

Brighten up

We also test bright-room viewing conditions and look at factors such as screen brightness and reflectivity.

Remote controls lined up in the TV testing lab
8 of 16 David Katzmaier/CNET

Full remote

We control everything with these TV remotes and remotes from a variety of source devices. And you thought your coffee table was cluttered.

How we test TVs in the CNET Lab
9 of 16 David Katzmaier/CNET

Gaming tests

We play a variety of games, typically from an Xbox Series X or Sony PlayStation 5, and note the effects of gaming modes and settings as well as the 4K/120Hz and VRR input capabilities. We also measure and report input lag.

TV lab testing equipment
10 of 16 David Katzmaier/CNET

Blu-ray players and HDMI matrix

Sandwiched between two 4K UHD Blu-ray players -- a Sony UXP-700 and an Oppo BDP-203 -- is the meat of our comparison lineup, an AVPro 8x8 4K UHD Matrix Switch. The switch allows us to send any of eight sources to up to eight TVs with no signal degradation. We use Blu-ray for some of those comparisons, including reference discs like the Spears & Munsil HDR benchmark, and streaming for others.

TV lab testing equipment
11 of 16 David Katzmaier/CNET

Signal generator and 4K streamers

Our other primary sources include (from left to right) an Apple TV 4K, a Murideo 6G 4K HDR test pattern generator and a Roku Ultra. We use the streamers for TV and movie comparisons and the Murideo to supply patterns for the spectroradiometer to measure.

Keeping one's cords labeled is key.
12 of 16 David Katzmaier/CNET

Cables and labels

We rely on Amazon Basics and Monoprice HDMI cables -- lots of them -- organized with the help of an Epson LW-300 label maker.

How we test TVs in the CNET Lab
13 of 16 David Katzmaier/CNET

Around back

Behind the couch are a pair of nooks for meetings and storage.

TV lab testing equipment
14 of 16 David Katzmaier/CNET

Storage shelf

No lab is complete without easy access to all the extras, from cables to Blu-rays to hardware to streamers to microfiber wipes.

David Katzmaier comparing test screens on TV's in the CNET lab
15 of 16 Bobby Oliver/CNET

Back to work

Thanks for taking the tour, now we're going to get back to reviewing TVs

We close the curtains to seal out light in the TV testing lab
16 of 16 David Katzmaier/CNET

Ta ta for now

For more details on everything you've seen check out our full article on How we Test TVs.

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