9 Setting Changes for the Best Picture Could Improve Your TV's Look

9 Setting Changes for the Best Picture Could Improve Your TV's Look ...

It might be difficult to see what your new television has.

All your shows and movies will be made pop by getting the best picture possible from your TV.

We''ll outline all of the settings you need to make sure you get the best picture quality.

It may be surprising that your TV doesn''t perform as well as your picture settings.

As part of our TV review process, here at CNET, we immediately dig into the menus to alter the picture settings so that the televisions were performing better picture quality.

Fortunately, you must be able to be an expert in keeping your TV looking fantastic. Every TV has a wide variety of customizations, including brightness, backlight, sharpness, smoothing, and more, that you may modify to enhance the television shows, movies, and video games you watch every day.

We have broken down all of the settings you need to change in order to get the best picture out of your TV. Always be mindful that picture setting names can vary from one manufacture to another. A setting one television company calls brightness might, for example, control something completely different on another set. We also address a lot of the differences below, but we cannot account for every TV-maker, especially on older models.

Start with the right picture mode

Your TVs picture mode has the largest effect on overall picture quality. This one setting is often used in standard, mode, such as Vivid, Dynamic, Bright, or other things. The TV is at its least accurate in this mode, with typically blown-out colors and image enhancement features that might catch the eye on a shelf at a store, but at home might make the TV look worse than it may.

Is it the easiest way to get exact color? Put your television in a Movie or a Cinema mode.

Some of the pictures will be hidden in the same way as you might expect them to look soft or too warm (reddish). For the time being, think about how it works, and the image will be more vivid.

Read more:What is the Best Picture Mode?

Let''s move on to some specific controls.

Backlight or OLED light

Nearly all TVs will have a control that adjusts the overall brightness of the TV. It''s usually labeled as the backlight control, or OLED light, or something similar. On previous Sony TVs, this setting is called Brightness, and there are five settings (Brightest to Darkest) in addition to a backlight control. This setting is generally different from the control designated Brightness (see below).

Brighter rooms and daylight viewing may require a higher setting, while home theater or nighttime viewing generally may benefit from a reduced setting. Most people prefer bright backlights on the LCD TV, particularly those who lack full array local dimming.

If youre concerned about how much electricity you use, the brighter the television, the more energy it will consume. Higher brightness makes OLED TVs even more susceptible to image retention and burn-in, although it''s unlikely with typical viewing habits.

Read more about the OLED Screen Burn-In: What You Need to Know in 2022


What the image of some friendly beachside roos should look like. On the left, when the contrast control is too high. Notice the lack of detail in the sand and how the clouds are blown out.

  • Controls the white or bright parts of an image
  • Too high will erase detail from clouds, snow and other bright objects
  • Too low will look dim and flat

The contrast control has adjusting how bright the bright parts of the image are. There is a lower limit, however. The whites are embedded in the image, making near-white details completely white. This effectively erases any detail in bright objects like clouds without making the image more visible.

You will need something that includes a slew of bright areas of the image. Baseball works pretty well for this type of fly ball, pop fly, home runs, or anything with shots of the sky or skiing (depending on season, clearly) or something with clouds. What you''re looking for is a bright image, but still with highlight detail. In other words, the bright areas of the image aren''t just awash in white.

Once you have found something you think will work, turn the contrast control up until you realize that detail is lost. Clouds will cease to be clouds, and snow will just be glare. Now turn the control back down until you see detail again. Somewhere in this range will be ideal. As you watch other shows/movies, you may need to tweak it a bit.

Do you want to be adamant about all of that? Simply leave it at the default for the Movie or Cinema setting.

Brightness or black level

What the teahouse should look like on the left. When the brightness control is too low, see how the shadows disappear completely.

  • Controls the black or dark parts of an image
  • Too high will look flat and washed out
  • Too low will erase detail in shadows and dark areas of the image

The brightness control isn''t actually affecting the TV''s brightness. Instead, it explains how dark the darkest parts of the image are. In this case, too high and the image will appear washed out. All shadows will disappear into black. (On new Sony TVs, this control is called Black Level.)

A closeup from the image above. See how you can see anything in the shadows in the image on the right.

To set brightness, you''re looking for the opposite type of content from contrast. Dark movies, like Aliens or The Dark Knight, are perfect for this. Somefamously dark TV episodes may be toodark to use for this.

Turn the Brightness control down until everything disappears into blackness (or something close) and turn it back up so you can see detail in everything, but the image doesn''t look washed out. Another test for this is a darker scene with someone with long hair. Shadow detail and dark coats can be spotted at night. Again, you may need to try a few different shows or movies to get it right.


The original image of Tallinn''s walls on the left. What it might look like if you set the sharpness control too high.

  • Controls artificial edge enhancement, not image sharpness
  • Too high erases image detail, adds a halo to fine lines
  • Depending on the TV, set to 0 theres no effect, or a slight softening

The sharpness control improves sharpness in a way it improves apparentsharpness, but at the expense of actual fine detail and usually with additional noise. On almost all televisions, the sharpness control increases edge enhancement, artificially accentuating any edges the TV finds in the image. This makes the outcome more transparent, thus the actual detail appears to be less actual.

A look at the above example. Note the extra noise and artificial halo around the spires on the left.

It may seem counterintuitive, but you should turn the sharpness control down, even if you don''t want them to. Some TVs look like they are significantly higher than others in the Dynamic or Vivid modes. Some viewers might be surprised by how detailed it now appears. You should be able to find some high-quality 4K content, and you may be surprised how detailed it now looks. You should be able to see textures on your TV, including faces, hair, and beards.

Read more about why you should stop your televisions. Sharpness Control

Color and tint

  • Controls color saturation and red-green shift
  • A holdover from the analog TV days
  • Generally will be correct, or close enough, out of the box

Generally, color and tint settings will be quite close to correct out of the box, particularly in Cinema or Movie mode. However, you may experiment with their effects, but it''s unlikely they''re off by more than one or two steps in either direction.

The color temperature at the top is too low or warm. At the bottom, the color temperature is too high or cool.

Color temperature or white balance

  • Controls how warm or cool the image looks
  • Too high and the image will be too blue
  • Too low and the image will be too red

This is especially true if you switch to the Cinema or Movie mode. It will look too warm or reddish on most TVs. This is actually the most precise and lifelike. Your television has been lying to you for years!

Switch to your TVs warm color temperature mode and watch it for a few days. I promise the standard mode will look much more blue once you get used to warm.

For more information, check out my article on color temp and why it matters.

Motion interpolation or smoothing (the soap opera effect)

  • Controls how smooth motion is by artificially creating new frames of video
  • Too high, or even enabled at all, it can be annoying to some
  • Too low and the TV might appear soft with motion, such as sports

Motion interpolation is becoming increasingly popular in movies. Many people, including film enthusiasts and nearly everyone who works in Hollywood, hate it. It makes movies look like a cheap soap opera or a video youd shoot on your phone. It may, however, be this. Some people appreciate it, but some are skeptical. Turning it off might change your feel about your purchase.

Read more: Tom Cruise is attempting to turn off the opera effect. Here''s how to do it.

Game mode

  • Reduces input lag, or how long it takes for your input to register onscreen
  • Usually disables features that might make the image better
  • Useful for any game that requires timing or aiming, especially online multiplayer

Input lag is the length of time that you must press a button on a game controller before having an onscreen effect. It''s important for many people, especially with certain types of games, to know the timing correctly.

Minimizing input lag, in turn through a game mode, may make a significant difference. If you own a new television and suddenly your scores and rankings have dropped, this might be the reason. It is not something you want to leave enabled often, since it usually disables processing capabilities that improve the televisions picture quality.

Switching to this mode has been granted now by some TVs and consoles.

Further steps

The next step to complete your TV to perfection is getting a setup disc. The Spears & Munsil disc is a great option because it allows you to move right to the patterns without worrying about extraneous fluff. If you simply want someone else to do it, consider if there are any TV calibrators in your area.

Make certain that any sources you have, such as a streaming stick or a cable or satellite box, are set to your TVs resolution (4K for 4K TVs, etc). Generally speaking, they should do this automatically, but it is worth digging into the settings to ensure that your 4K TV will not look its best without 4K content. However, you might need to pay for a higher tier to get that, depending on the service.

Lastly, HDMI. It''s possible that whatever HDMI cables you have are fine. If you try to send 4K from a media streamer and it doesn''t work, it''s possible your HDMI cables can''t. However, new HDMI cables are cheap. If your television is getting the resolution you need from your sources, new HDMI cables won''t make the image look or sound better, so you can save money.

Check out CNETs'' top 55-inch, 65-inch, and 75-inch TVs you can buy. You can also check out the best 4K TVs available.

Geoff performs photo tours of cool museums and locations around the world, includingnuclear submarines,massive aircraft carriers, medieval castles, airplane graveyards.

Follow him onInstagramandYouTube and on his travel blog,BaldNomad. He wrote a famous sci-fi novel about city-size submarines, along with an asequel.

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