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7 of the best TV features you should be using

Your new TV likely has a lot features buried in its settings menu that you didn't know exist. Here are the ones you should check out.

Sarah Tew/CNET

When you first buy a new television, you might spend the first hour or so digging through the menus, making sure all the settings are properly configured. After that, you might revisit the settings from time to time to adjust the picture mode or brightness. But there are likely settings and features that you're completely overlooking.

Here are seven television features you should be using.

4K and HDR streaming

Just because you have a media streamer doesn't mean you should ignore the built-in streaming function on your smart TV. Most streamers, including Amazon Fire TV Stick, most Rokus and the Apple TV, lack the ability to stream in 4K resolution or high dynamic range. With a growing number of shows and movies available in 4K and HDR, you may want to turn to your television's ability to stream to see what the fuss is all about.

Believe you me, while many will say 4K is overkill or unnecessary, after watching "Jessica Jones" in 4K, I couldn't go back to watching it in 1080p on the Apple TV.

Apps

Again, if your media streamer is missing one of the streaming apps you want to use to watch movies and TV, you may want to check the app store on your TV to see if the app is available there instead.

Vizio E701i-A3

Your television may have apps like Netflix and Amazon built inside its software.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I wanted to watch a movie I knew was on Amazon Prime Video and all I had connected to the TV was an Apple TV. Despite having a large Amazon button on the remote to my Vizio television, it took me months to realize I didn't need to keep moving the Xbox into the living room just to watch something from Amazon.

Built-in casting

Some newer televisions are coming with Google Chromecast functionality built in, meaning you don't need to purchase a $35 Chromecast dongle separately.

However, some televisions that don't technically have Chromecast built-in are still Cast-enabled. What this means is, you can't add them in the Google Home app or verbally throw content to them using something like a Google Home speaker, but they will automatically appear in the Cast dropdown menu when your phone is connected to the same wireless network as your television. Those sets include Android TVs from Sony, as well as some Vizio and Samsung models with certain apps like YouTube and Netflix.

CEC

chromecast-tips.png

Some devices like the Chromecast can turn on a television for you.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Many HDMI devices connected to your television can actually power it on using a technology called CEC, which stands for Consumer Electronics Control. While most manufacturers have their own name for the tech, it all operates virtually the same way and comes standard on most modern televisions.

With CEC, you can press a button on your Apple TV remote or start streaming something with a Chromecast and a connected TV with CEC enabled will also power on and switch to the correct input automatically, without you having to use the TV remote.

Sleep or inactivity timer

One thing CEC doesn't always support is powering off the television when the accessory powers down. (Depending on your television, this works with an Xbox One or Apple TV, but not Chromecast.) If this is the case for you, search through the television's power settings and look for a sleep timer or a feature that powers the television off after a certain length of inactivity.

Gaming mode

With a settings flip, a TV can be optimized to respond better during your gaming sessions.

Sarah Tew

While gaming on a newer television, you may notice some input lag -- or a small discrepancy between when you push a button on the controller and when that action takes place on the TV. With a fast-paced game like a first-person shooter or a racing game, it can completely ruin the experience.

To mitigate input lag, try switching the picture mode of your television to Gaming, or look for a feature called Gaming Low Latency. And if you're looking for a new TV for gaming, check CNET's TV reviews, which test for input lag.

Picture settings

TV picture menus host a growing list of settings to tweak, many of which might be a mystery to you. And there are many settings that sound helpful but can actually be detrimental to your viewing experience.

Luckily CNET has you covered. The easiest fix is to use the Movie or Cinema picture mode, which is usually the most accurate. If you want to go deeper, check out our guides on getting to know the various settings and how to set up a TV by eye.

Editor's note: This article was updated on March 11, 2017 to include additional information on CEC and device compatibility. A previous version stated Apple TV does not support the power off command for CEC. Putting the Apple TV into Sleep mode will power off certain televisions. In our tests, it did not work with a Vizio M-series and some Samsung models, but your mileage may vary.