Calibrating Your HDTV and PC Monitor

By  |  Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 12:23 am

I bought a 50-inch Samsung HDTV monitor a few years ago. It’s in our living room and it didn’t take long to adjust to it: Watching movies is a truly magnificent experience.

It got even better once I calibrated the beast. If you have a HDTV, and haven’t taken the time to calibrate it, do it.

I have a few ways to do the deed; you choose the one that fits your attention span and checkbook.

The Quick and Easy Method

Looking up an HDTV’s optimal settings on TweakTV’s Tweak My TV is the quickest method and the one I used. Find your HDTV’s model number, get the calibration numbers, take 5 minutes to adjust your set, and see the big difference. The site isn’t comprehensive–several models in aren’t in the DB; my specific Samsung wasn’t, but a similar model was close enough for me to use the specs successfully.

Match these specs up on your TV and you're good to go.

One of my former editors at a magazine I hate mentioning wrote How to Calibrate Your HDTV. The article’s meat is in the Tips for Content Not on DVD and Good Advice sections; use the info in combination with the Tweak My TV adjustments. Adding Lincoln’s calibration tips won’t take much more time — it added another 15 minutes to the process.

The Money Adjustment

Of course, if you have $99 bucks to burn (in this economy?), you can try DisplayMate for Windows Video Edition, a software product that runs though a set of test patterns while you make the adjustments.

The DisplayMate downside: You’ll need to connect your HDTV to a Windows PC. (Here’s how DisplayMate works on an HDTV.Also check a comprehensive 11-part Display Technology Shoot-Out article series that explains HDTV display technologies, calibration issues, specs, and other stuff HDTV owners could use. BTW, you can also use DisplayMate to adjust your PC’s monitor.

Another calibration tool is Datacolor’s Spyder3TV, a hardware and software combo, also $99. I haven’t used either gadget; when I get one next week, I’ll fill you in on its skills.

And if you haven’t already figured out the optimal distance between you and the TV, use the Viewing Distance Calculator to do the calculations.

Adjust your PC’s Monitor

While you’re fiddling with adjustments, check out Calibrize 2.0. It’s a dirt simple and free way to calibrate your PC’s monitor. [Thanks, Jim Johnson.]

Jim said: “I found that I shouldn’t follow their advice to first set my contrast to maximum. The results are better if left closer to a neutral point. Otherwise, I am seeing details that I haven’t previously seen — and that’s with using the monitor’s auto-adjust, specific mode, and completely customizable settings. It takes only a couple minutes and I see my screen pop to life with every boot as Windows loads the color profile.”

[This post is excerpted from Steve’s TechBite newsletter. If you liked it,¬†head here to sign up–it’s delivered on Wednesdays to your inbox, and it’s free.]

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  1. Dave Barnes Says:

    Useless pointer.
    “No settings found for this model!” Which was delivered today.