Fine-Tune Your High-Definition TV's Settings

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Calibrate Good Times

Getting your HDTV's colors right takes more than good eyesight, however. Mark Hunter, technical director at color-calibration vendor Datacolor, recommends that you use a DVD that contains test patterns to calibrate your TV's color and other appearance settings, such as Digital Video Essentials' $35 HDTV calibration disc. Datacolor's SpyderTV (about $150 online) goes a step further by using a colorimeter to electronically measure the light emerging from your TV panel. Hunter says that this removes the subjectivity and emotion from the process. For example, he says, the human eye cannot match the amount of blue in white versus the amount of blue in blue when presented with test patterns to view. And you might calibrate your TV differently today than you would tomorrow, depending on the physical state of your eyes at different times.

I used the SpyderTV to calibrate a Philips 42-inch plasma HDTV. The billiard-ball-size colorimeter has three spokes that attach to the screen by means of suction cups. The device takes several readings of image patterns from the included DVD and then determines the best settings for your television.

Since the TV I was testing would be viewed during the daytime and at night, I ran the tests under both conditions. Surprisingly, the device recommended nearly identical settings in both cases: a tint setting of 6 on a scale of -50 to 50, which was close to the middle of the range, and a 'Warm' color temperature setting. I was satisfied with the brightness and contrast recommendations, which made high-def shows look rich, pleasantly bright, and well defined. Nevertheless, I felt that the suggested color setting was too high, though the set's owner commented that the TV had never looked better.

Roy Santos is a freelance writer based in Northern California.

This story, "Fine-Tune Your High-Definition TV's Settings" was originally published by PCWorld.

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