Home > General > Making The Most Of Your New HDTV

Making The Most Of Your New HDTV

You’ve done your research and found a great deal on the perfect HDTV this holiday season. Congratulations. But you’re not done yet. Now you need to install it, connect it and fine-tune the picture. To get the most out of your new HDTV, just a few minutes of planning now can save hours of headaches (and eye strain) later.Tips for installing, connecting and getting the best picture from your hi-def set.

See the full list of tips on Making The Most Of Your New HDTV

Take A Stand

First, think about how you plan to mount your TV. Almost all new HDTV sets come with a small stand (or “pedestal,” if the manufacturer wants to be fancy about it) to perch on an entertainment center or table top. This is far and away the most popular way to mount a TV; it’s simple, fuss-free and easy to move or remove. The only downside is the limited range of positioning; the TV has to sit on a flat surface perpendicular to the floor.

The other method is to mount the TV on a wall using a bracket. Positioning is more flexible and it looks sexy–the TV looks like a painting that moves. Brackets cost anywhere from $60 for a basic lightweight tilter up into the $600 range for a super heavy-duty bracket with an articulating arm, 200 lbs. of support, and a channel to hide unsightly audio/video cables.

Installing one of these setups, especially if you plan to run cords through the wall, requires several tools and some household handyman skills. If you can’t describe the difference between a ratchet and a screwdriver, this task is best left to a professional. Best Buy’s Geek Squad offers installation services, and Amazon can find you an installer in your area. These services are costly, but customer reviews suggest that the end result always looks great.

The backside of new HDTVs feature a myriad of inputs, ports, holes and general doodads. A bunch of them should look familiar to anyone who knew his way around an old cathode ray tube TV.

For the best possible picture your TV can produce, the High Definition Multimedia Interface (better known as HDMI) is the top connection standard, hands down. HDMI carries, through a single cable, the highest-quality digital HD video and audio signal available by today’s standards. Any and all HD sources should connect to your HDTV with HDMI whenever possible. Just don’t buy HDMI cables in a brick-and-mortar store. They’re always grossly overpriced. No matter what any salesperson tries to say, a $5 Monoprice cable performs exactly as well as a $100 Monster cable. There is no difference in the picture or sound quality whatsoever. Save your money and buy your HDMI cables online.

For whatever reason, if you choose not to connect your HD sources via HDMI, component video is an acceptable alternative. This method requires five cables total–three (the green, blue and red holes) for video, and two (the white and red holes) for audio. It’s a high-definition analog standard, just below the crystal-clear quality of HDMI, but it’s so close that most viewers don’t see a difference.

There should be a number of other inputs on your TV, but the one you’ll most likely use is the A/V composite standard. If you plan to connect older devices like a VCR, analog cable box or previous-generation game console, you’ll need to resort to this classic set of red, white, and yellow RCA-style jacks that have been on every TV set for the past several decades. It’s a low-quality analog signal that worked great on standard-definition sets, but doesn’t cut it with HD sources. Current-generation game consoles come packaged with only these composite cables, and the quality doesn’t even come close to HDMI or even component video. Details and edges will be blurry, so only connect devices with this when you have no other choice.

Fine Tuning

After the installation is all said and done, you’ll probably be content to plop down on the sofa and stare at your new screen until your butt hurts. As spectacular as the screen will look at that moment in time, there’s still room for improvement. All it takes is a few quick adjustments to the picture settings.

Out of the box, a picture’s settings are dialed way, way up, particularly the backlight and contrast. Manufacturers program it like this on purpose so that they really pop under harsh fluorescent showroom lights. Unfortunately, the picture looks washed-out in the subdued lighting of your living room. If your eyes hurt after about 15 minutes of viewing, turn down the brightness and contrast settings.

If you’re really serious about getting a spiffy picture, a calibration disc is a worthwhile investment. These can go for just a few dollars and feature audio and video test patterns to help you dial in your settings to ideal levels. Better yet, if you’re a true videophile with a fantastic TV and a few hundred more dollars to spare, consider a professional calibration from an Imaging Science Foundation-certified calibrator. They’ll use hidden menus to adjust the grayscale settings on your set and truly bring out the best in your new TV.

Such an expensive step probably isn’t necessary. A bit of planning, cheap cables, and some minor picture adjustments can improve your viewing experience on any TV.

See the full list of tips on Making The Most Of Your New HDTV

Categories: General
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: