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Getting a perfect TV picture at home requires lots of trial and error

Berlin: The TV that wowed you in the store with its riveting colours and sharp images is now set up in your home theatre and … the colours are all wrong and the images look unnatural.

Take comfort. You’re not alone with this problem.

“In the store, the devices are as bright, sharp and full of contrast as possible, filled with colourful images,” says Florian Friedrich of German home-theatre magazine Audiovision. The pictures get shoppers’ attention and prompt sales.

But once the TV is set up in a home, it’s not going to be showing promotional images, but regular movies and TV shows, which are produced completely differently. Thus, it becomes a question of setting your TV so you get the best image with what’s available.

Friedrich recommends setting a flat-screen TV’s settings to the most neutral ones available.

One option is to pick pre-settings like “Movie,” “Hollywood” or “THX” which are probably close to what the producers were using when making the film.

Test images can help provide more clarity. These can be downloaded for free online and then transferred to a TV with a DVD or a USB stick. Use these images to pick your preferred settings, like colour temperature, colour, brightness and contrast.

German consumer products testing group Stiftung Warentest warns that images tend to turn red if colour temperatures are set too high, but tend to be on the blue side if the temperature is too cold. Don’t ignore questions of dark and light.

“First set the brightness, then the contrast,” advises Stiftung Warentest. “When the settings are right, differences between different levels of grey are visible.” Bright areas shouldn’t glow.

When setting the colour, make sure it’s possible to differentiate different gradations in a hue. If the colours are too bright, bring down the colour saturation.

If the sharpness is too high, moving images will look unnatural. But everything will look sloppy if it’s too low. Look at characters’ arms. There shouldn’t be any spikes or shadows. Some TVs come with light sensors, monitoring the surrounding brightness to pick the best TV image. But if the TV’s picture is too washed out, then it isn’t working right and it is best to do without it.

Bear in mind, settings are specific to the feed. If users have satellite, cable and DVB-T, separate settings will be required for each. Also consider calibration systems, which work better than the human eye. They are available for about €200 (Dh1,009).

Most newer flat-screen TVs come with digital image enhancers.

Stefan Porteck of German computer magazine c’t recommends turning off any function that sounds as if it was created by a marketing professional. Think Clear Motion or Dynamic Black. Just run through the options and see which works best for you.

Friedrich notes that a lot of enhancers aren’t necessary, if the input is good enough. He said most Blu-ray discs can be played without any. Bear in mind, he adds, that many correctives come with their own problems. Noise reduction might cause an image to stutter. Three-dimensional films bring their own set of problems.

At the end of the day, he says, it may pay to worry more about the lighting in the room where you’re watching TV. It shouldn’t overpower the TV or cause reflections, he notes.