How to calibrate your HDTV

If you haven't calibrated your HDTV, you're probably not seeing the picture you paid for. Here's how to get a near-perfect image on your high-def screen without breaking the bank.

Tips for Content Not on DVD

Calibration DVDs will help DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and HD DVDs look great on your HDTV, but what about your cable connection or DVR? As I pointed out earlier, you have to calibrate each input separately, and not every input is attached to a source that plays DVDs.

Though you have no perfect way around such problems, here are some helpful tricks.

Replicate DVD settings: Once you get the TV right for the DVD input, jot down your video settings on a piece of paper and then reenter them for each of the other inputs. This is the fastest and easiest solution (at least if your TV displays numeric values for its settings), but its accuracy is questionable. A setting that's perfect for HDMI may be slightly off for coaxial cable. And two different HDMI sources may require different settings because of their own idiosyncrasies.

Plug the DVD player into various inputs and recalibrate: This approach is horribly time-consuming, of course. Besides, your DVD player may not support all of the inputs you use, and this trick still doesn't help with source idiosyncrasies.

Eyeball it: I know, you've already done it. But things might be different this time. Reading this article and using one of the calibration discs might help you make more-educated guesses about display settings than you've made in the past.

Use a calibration tool that isn't disc based: Does one exist? Not yet, but DisplayMate hopes to get its USB-based HDTV Setup product out by fall. The basic version will plug into the multimedia-capable USB port on your DVR and use .jpg images and possibly other commonly supported multimedia formats. Of course, for it to work, your DVR will have to have a multimedia-capable USB port.

Currently DisplayMate offers a Windows version, which you can use by hooking up a PC to your HDTV.

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Lincoln Spector

PC World (US online)
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