How to Get the Best Quality Picture Out of Your HDTV

By Melissa King

Your HDTV looked fantastic on the showroom floor, but when you brought it home and set it up, the picture may have seemed a bit "off." Stores typically adjust a TV's settings to look attractive in harsh lighting. At home, in a dimmer, more relaxed environment, you'll need to adjust your HDTV's settings to achieve a better picture. The cables and sources you use, as well as the room's lighting and your viewing distance, make a big difference when it comes to HDTV picture quality.

Things You'll Need

  • HDMI cables
  • HD cable or satellite box

Step 1

Purchase HDMI cables. When you use them to connect your TV to an HD source, you'll notice an impressive boost in picture quality. You don't need to buy an expensive cable, though, since a cheap one will often work just as well.

Step 2

Upgrade your sources. If you're still using a standard-definition cable or satellite box, call your service provider and ask if you can upgrade to an HD one. Switch from a DVD player to a Blu-ray player, as a Blu-ray disc has six times the resolution of a DVD. Game consoles, such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, allow you to play games and watch movies in HD. The PlayStation 3 even has an integrated Blu-ray player.

Step 3

Change your TV's settings. Many TVs offer several picture presets from which to choose, such as movie, sports or video game. If you don't like the way the presets look, change the settings manually. Do an online search for a calibration guide for your specific TV, as settings differ between models. Usually, turning down the brightness, sharpness and contrast gives you a more realistic picture.

Step 4

Change your TV's resolution. If your TV offers up to 1080p but the picture looks bad, you might have it set to a lower resolution, like 480 or 720. Most remote controls feature a button to change the resolution.

Step 5

Dim the viewing room as much as possible. Turn down the lights, if they're on a dimmer, or use lower-wattage bulbs. Cover windows with thick, opaque curtains. Move lamps so they don't reflect off the TV screen.

Step 6

Refer to an HDTV seating distance chart (see Resources) to determine how far away to sit from your TV. Seating distance depends on the TV's height, width, diagonal measurement and resolution.

Tips & Warnings

  • Once you've adjusted the TV's settings, don't change them for at least a week. It typically takes about one week for your eyes to adjust to the new picture.
  • If you can't figure out the best settings for your TV, try a calibration disc. These discs run in your DVD or Blu-ray player and automatically adjust your TV's settings for the optimal picture.