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.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lincoln Spector

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?