Tune Your HDTV's Display on the Cheap

Recently I started looking into buying an HDTV setup DVD. For around $15 or $20 you can get a DVD that walks you through setting the picture settings on your TV. Various still images are displayed for each setting allowing you to adjust until the image looks as it should.

The idea is that you aren't just eye-balling each setting while watching a DVD, but rather using images created specifically for tuning your TV.

It sure beats paying a technician to come out and set up your TV for you or, even worse, living with a poorly setup HDTV you spent over $1,000 on. However, I agree $20 + shipping for one of these DVDs is an unfortunate way to have to spend your money. There is a cheap solution.

Do you have kids or do you simply enjoy Pixar films? What about Lucasarts films?

Well, if you own a Lucasarts or Pixar film that was released on DVD sometime between the year 2000 and now you already have the sufficient tools for setting up your HDTV.

This is not the best option, but if you own Monsters Inc. or The Incredibles there is an option in the Setup menu (on the DVD) called the THX Optimizer.

The THX Optimizer runs you through a series of images to make sure your contrast, brightness, tint and color are set correctly and then it displays an image to test your TVs' scaling of 4:3 and 16:9 images. It caps it all off by playing a short 30 second clip from the movie to make sure it all looks good to you.

Some tips:
  1. Check out this CNET article to learn abou the various settings and how you should change them: CNET
  2. If you alter Brightness or Contrast after having already set one or the other; back track to verify the setting still looks good. These two settings are the most important to get right.
  3. Let your TV warm-up to the optimal operating temperature before making changes. 30 minutes is more than enough for all TV types.
  4. Do this. Proper settings make for an amazing difference. Get your money's worth.

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