Monday, 22 April 2013

Guide to setting up your HDTV for gaming

by Dave Lamb

This is a follow up to my first guide on how to pick a HDTV for gaming. After you've selected the prefect TV for gaming, it’s time to tweak the settings to get the very best out of your new set.

"Modern/hygienic living space is completely optional"

You're probably quite happy with the picture on your HDTV but did you know it can look even better with a few changes to the settings. About half of TV owners don’t take the time to set it up their TV’s but there are three big reasons why you should.

The picture will look better
Manufacturers set up their TVs so that they are very bright and colourful when they are on display in the store. This is to exploit the fact the human eye is always drawn to the brightest image. However games, movies and TV programmes are made to a specific set of standards. If your TV is aligned to these standards you will be watching the content as the creators intended, seeing what they originally wanted you to see.

It will use less energy
Once your TV is set up to an accurate picture mode it will normally use between 15 - 50% less energy

It will reduce eye strain
When we look at something bright our pupils shrink to let less light in and when we look at something dark, they dilate to let more light in. If your TV is set too bright, then the picture is constantly changing from bright to dark. This causes your pupils to continually open and close and as a result, your eyes will become tired. If you set up your TV correctly you can have a more comfortable viewing experience and avoid eye strain.

Next follow my 5 steps on how to select the best settings to produce the very best picture your HDTV is capable of. 

1. Select the correct picture mode
The first step is to select the correct picture mode to produce a realistic picture and ensure you are not losing any detail. Change the picture mode setting to cinema/movie mode. If your TV has a THX mode select this as it a mode that attempts to provide the industry standards. 

As you can see, in dynamic mode picture detail is lost and the picture is less realistic. 
Straight away you will notice a drop in brightness which may seem strange at first. Your eyes have become used to watching an overly bright image and it will take time for them to adjust. After a few days you should realise colours are more natural and watching TV is more enjoyable.

2. Select the correct picture size
You should adjust the Picture Size, Aspect or Ratio setting so that the edges of the picture are not lost outside the edges of the screen, known as overscan. The best setting is usually called something like ‘just scan’, ‘screen fit’ or ‘full’. If your TV has an overscan setting turn it off.

As you can see here, if the picture size setting is set incorrectly you lose the edges of the image.

 3. Disable any unnecessary features.
There are unfortunately many picture processing features that degrade the picture quality of sets. It sounds ridiculous but these are all purely for marketing campaigns.

Energy saving features
These should be switched off as they reduce the brightness on your picture. By setting up your TV correctly with this guide you are already saving energy. Power saving functions dim and brighten an image unnaturally which adversely affect picture quality.

Dynamic Brightness (Dynamic Contrast/Black Enhancer/Dynamic Backlight)
Similar to the energy saving features these also brighten and dim the picture in an unstable way which negatively affects picture quality.

Led Dimming
If you have a LED LCD TV this feature should be set to off unless you have a full backlit LED TV, in which case it should be set to low. Again this setting will affect brightness stability if set incorrectly.

Sharpening and Noise Reduction
Sharpening settings add false sharpness to an image which can obscure fine detail in high definition images. Noise reduction smoothes an image which can hide image detail.

Motion Enhancement (Motion Plus/Motion Flow/TruMotion/Intelligent Frame Creation)
This setting creates extra frames in video you are watching by guessing what should be in between existing frames. The created frames often contain errors like ghosting of objects in the picture.

A created frame is inserted in-between the original two frames.

The created frame often shows errors like this. The moral of the story is you can create something out of nothing.

4. Check your Colour Temperature, Colour Gamut and Gamma

In most cases these will be correctly set after you select the cinema or movie mode earlier in the guide but it’s worth checking them. Colour temperature should be set to warm or warm 2 if available. If your TV has a colour gamut option it should be set to rec709 or BT709. If your TV has a gamma setting it should be set to 2.2 - 2.4 if the option is available. These settings align your picture with those used by the studios to ensure you are viewing the content as they intended.

The finished product should be more realistic like the image on the right.

5. Console specific settings
Finally I’ll add some specific settings for consoles that should help you get the best picture quality out of them.

Xbox 360
Firstly make sure you're using an HDMI cable if you can and select the correct resolution of your TV on the Xbox 360. Go in the display settings, set the reference levels to standard and the HDMI colour space to Source.

As with the Xbox 360 use a HDMI cable if you can. Turn the Cross Color Reduction Filter off,set the RGB Full Range to limited, set Y Pb/Cb Pr/Cr Super White to on and BD 1080P 24Hz Output to automatic.


There’s not much in the way of setting on the Wii but use the component cables if you can and set the resolution to 480p.

Notes on input lag...

Most Modern TV’s have settings such as game mode which aims to reduce input lag. They do this by removing most of the processing present in modes like "dynamic". If you've followed this guide you should have selected the movie or cinema mode which also cuts out on much of the processing. Movie modes sometimes yields the same results as game modes when it comes to input lag, as long as any frame creation is turned off but you may need to enable it depending on your model. 

There you have it. Give your eyes a few days the adjust and you should be much happier with the picture quality. If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask in the comments section below.

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  1. I followed all of the steps but my tv picture looks like its yellow how do I fix it?

    1. youll have to change the colour settings on your tv, when the picture is yellow its usually because the colour temperature is too high :)

    2. The picture may seem too red or yellow when you adjust it for the first time. Give yourself some time to adjust to the new settings but if you still feel the picture is incorrect your set may have a overly warm picture. Unfortunately every set is different so it's impossible to recommend settings that will work for every TV

      In this case if your colour temperature setting is "warm 2" try "warm 1", if it only has a "warm" setting try "normal". Do not adjust the "colour" control on your set as this does not affect the colour temperature of the picture.

      If you can tell me the make and model I might be able to offer some more insight.

  2. Hey man i got a black border on my Sharp LC 32LD145K - 32" LED-backlit LCD TV only way i can fix is to zoom it in to 16:9 i dunno where to find just scan and that and on 16:9 it dont show me full thing on ps4

  3. I think just scan is called dot by dot on sharp TVs if you can find that option.

  4. hi thank u for the calibration . I have Samsung es7500 when I game on movie mode the lag is too bad the only way is to play on game mode . also if I put the sharpness 0 the game will look blurry .20 to 30 is good for me . I think 0 is good for movie but in gaming world u have to increase the sharpness a little . what do u think ?

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