Optimise TV picture settings – How to set up your TV properly

Brilliant colours and sharpness of detail – the new televisions already have an excellent picture quality

You fiddle about, hit the wrong buttons, and, in no time at all, the picture on the TV is out of whack. The characters in your favourite TV series look like they fell asleep on the sunbed! Or even worse, the whole picture is distorted. We’ll tell you how you can optimise the TV picture settings again.

From calibration to colour saturation – there’s a multitude of picture settings in your TV that you can optimise to your own personal taste. Often, the factory settings specified by the manufacturer leave quite a bit of room for improvement. The settings in the screen menu can be reset with little effort and quite quickly – whether it’s a plasma, LED or LCD TV.  Colours that are too bright or too pale, poor contrast and ghosting will then be a thing of the past.

Control brightness and contrast

Your TV’s picture quality is badly affected by poor brightness and contrast settings. For example, when you watch a crime film or thriller that has lots of night scenes. If you can’t make out anything on the screen, you need to readjust the picture settings on your TV set to be able to see anything. The contrast controls the white levels; with the brightness, you set how dark the dark areas in the picture of your screen are.

You can adjust the contrast and brightness settings on your TV. Select a picture that contains many details and shades or look for a TV test pattern. First, set the contrast control to the highest level, then, bit by bit, turn it down so that you can still just see all the subtleties. For brightness, you do the same. With a picture that contains both dark and bright parts, it is important that the difference you see is as sharp and distinct as possible – without the details and subtleties going by the wayside.

Adjust colour saturation

The colour saturation (or colour temperature) makes the whole image look either very gaudy or very pale. Look at the faces to see whether the colour saturation on the screen is too high. If the colour of the skin is extremely red, you should correct the saturation downwards. By contrast, if everything looks a little pale and dismal, it’s advisable to up the ante. Our tip: Change the picture settings at exactly the lighting conditions at which you normally watch television. If you slump in front of the box preferably in the evening under artificial light, it doesn’t make much sense to adjust the colour saturation in the early morning when the sun is shining bright. In principle, though, the following applies to colour saturation: There is no accounting for taste. There are no “right” or “wrong” values, only the setting that meets your personal taste.

Adjust picture mode

Manufacturers of screens and TV sets such as SamsungLGPanasonic and Sony have chosen different picture modes that are already pre-set according to what the mode is called. If you choose a mode called “Cinema” or “Film”, make sure that your room is not overly bright or illuminated. It is even better to dim it – just like you imagine a private night at the cinema. A picture mode of “Vivid” or “Dynamic”, by contrast, usually offers an enormously high-contrast picture that’s suitable for use in very bright rooms. Instead of fiddling with the picture settings yourself, first find out whether one of the default modes completely satisfies you.

Other picture settings for TV sets

Manufacturers like to throw jargon or their own word creations around in the TV picture settings. We explain what the most important terms mean:

  • Super Resolution: The contours are intensified, and the resolution is increased.
  • Colour brilliance & Colour re-mastering: The manufacturers have optimised the colour and saturation according to their ideas. Usually, the colours are quite bold with this setting.
  • 16:9 Overscan: The image is zoomed in, so it fills the whole screen.
  • Dynamic Contrast: Black and white are balanced, which makes for greater depth of colour. This mode is good for films or TV series in which most of the scenes are set in the dark or at night.
  • Eco mode: As the name suggests: It’s about the environment. In the Eco mode, energy is saved. This means nothing else than the brightness has been reduced and thus electricity saved.
  • Motionflow, TruMotion Motion Plus or Perfect Natural Motion: A whole bunch of names that vary between manufacturers but all mean the same thing. Additional intermediate images are inserted, which makes movements seam smoother and seamless.

What to do in the case of pixel errors?

If something goes wrong with the manufacture of a TV set or screen, pixel errors in the display can crop up. This is a frequent problem with LCD screens, which cannot be solved with the picture settings optimisation. Pixel errors should be corrected as soon as possible. This is because they are an ergonomics problem for the viewer (similar to light reflections on eyeglasses without proper anti-reflection coating).