4K, HDR, Smart TV televisions have many functionalities. How can we make the most of the features of our television and achieve a top quality image? This article will suggest eight small adjustments that will make your TV viewership even more great.
Eight small adjustments to enjoy your TV more
The HD era is history and Full HD televisions have their days numbered. The current image quality standard is called UHD, and although initially the first compatible TVs cost a fortune, now they can be found at very affordable prices. But did you know that your TV can look even better than it does? The truth is that most modern televisions incorporate many additional processing functions and parameters that if not configured correctly, we will not obtain the optimal image quality. We help you get the most out of your new TV with this tips guide.
Eight small adjustments – 1. Overscreen
What is overscan and why should it be disabled?
You just bought a brand new UHD TV with HDR10. Congratulations. Now the first thing you have to do is make sure it looks really good. This is unknown to most people, but virtually all flat-panel televisions released to date clip and extend the video signal as shipped from the factory, blurring the image for no apparent reason. This is due to a function known as overscan.
The truth is that in reality the overscan has its reason for being, although it is no longer very current. In the past, tube or CRT televisions had problems adjusting the image on the sides, so the broadcasts had quite thick black borders that facilitated their fitting and sometimes added additional technical information invisible to the viewer’s eyes. The old adjustment card was used to configure this image parameter among many others.
With the jump to digital technology these edges were eliminated from broadcasts, but many televisions incorporate an automatic cropping function to avoid them. This means that your TV is most likely cropping the image and stretching it only to remove frames that no longer exist. Each television hides the overscan function in a different corner of the picture settings. Some manufacturers allow you to disable it with this name, while others use terms such as “fill screen”, “pixel mapping” or “pixel configuration” (1: 1 being the value that fully respects the original video signal). Search your TV and be amazed by the change in sharpness after deactivating the overscan.
Eight small adjustments – 2. Dynamic lighting
Adjusting dynamic lighting: is it worth it?
Some non-HDR televisions incorporate something called lighting. In essence, the image processing technology included in the set monitors the footage it is showing and varies the intensity of the brightness to adjust it intelligently, reducing for example the brightness of the TV in night scenes. The intention is fine, but it just stays at that. Unfortunately, the lighting systems used by LCD TVs (especially if they are already a few years old) are not characterized by their speed. This implies that sometimes the brightness changes occur a few tenths of a second behind the image.
In addition, the intensity can vary very abruptly. This is especially evident if you like to watch TV in the dark and do not use an OLED TV, where these jumps do not exist when using a totally different lighting system. Also, the Full Array LED models avoid this problem to a great extent. Unless we are talking about a modern model and compatible with the latest HDR standards, we recommend that you disable this feature. If you want to respect the image quality of your favorite movies, it is much better to set a fixed brightness on the TV and draw the curtains to correct the lighting in the room.
Eight small adjustments – 2. Dynamic contrast
Dynamic contrast: a dispensable parameter in old televisions
Similarly, many televisions incorporate an option in the image quality section called dynamic contrast. In fact, some models even make an equivalence between dynamic lighting and dynamic contrast , even though they are not exactly the same.
Although dynamic contrast can intervene in the illumination of the screen, its main task is to correct the colors of the screen so that the image is more attractive and striking. And why is that a bad thing? Well, many series and movies have a very studied photography, full of soft tones and with colors well measured by their creators to achieve a precise environment. If the television modifies it without rhyme or reason, we miss that part of the experience. Dynamic contrast can also be detrimental to older televisions by modifying the colors on the screen to create what is known as banding , solid color stripes that degrade image quality. This effect can be highly visible in night scenes and television broadcasts with low resolution original content.
Eight small adjustments – 3. Black enhancement and noise reduction
Black enhancement and noise reduction: adjustable or even unnecessary?
If you have ever taken a photograph with your mobile phone at night, you have surely seen a lot of rather unpleasant specks appear, almost like a static signal. This is what experts call “noise,” small variations in brightness and color information generated during video capture or processing. To avoid this, modern televisions incorporate an automatic reduction function.
While image noise is undesirable, reducing it involves passing a filter that can drastically alter visual quality by introducing excessive blurring. This can be seen because all the actors on the screen appear to be excessively made up and the edges of the objects are not well defined. Since most of today’s content has very little noise or incorporates its own correction, our advice is to disable this feature or reduce it as much as possible. The result will be sharper series and movies with less grainy gradients.
Many TVs have different levels of noise reduction, and the technology itself makes perfect sense, so instead of just turning it off, you can simply adjust it. On the other hand, there is also a feature known as edge detection that roughly tries to do the opposite, generating detail where there is none to create artificially more defined images … but that in older televisions only introduces distortions.
It should be noted that neither black enhancement nor noise detection is a big problem on more advanced 4K TVs or 8K models. This is so because they incorporate advanced image recognition systems based on Artificial Intelligence to scale content at low resolution, so their image processing is much more optimized. And of course, if the OLED TV there is no black to improve, because it is simply perfect thanks to its screen technology.
Eight small adjustments – 4. Frame interpolation
Of all known image processing technologies, there is none more controversial than frame interpolation. Known by names like Motion Plus, Motionflow, video smoothing, and many others , this technique increases the smoothness of series and movies by introducing additional frames. The problem is how you do it.
Since series and movies are normally recorded or broadcast at 24 frames per second, to increase their fluency it is necessary to “invent” additional frames. Modern televisions use processors to observe the differences between each of these images and generate one or more extra frames with greater or less precision, resulting in much smoother and more fluid videos with an appearance usually described as a cheap soap opera.
Unfortunately, where there is none, it cannot be removed, and although modern interpolation systems are quite sophisticated, they all deteriorate image quality. The creators of series like Stranger Things. Although it is also true that some people prefer that ultra-smooth look that only frame interpolation can provide because it looks “more natural”. It is a matter of taste.
If you enjoy movies and want to respect the appearance of your favorite series and movies, we recommend that you find this feature and disable it. In fact, we would tell you that interpolation should be the first option to disable on any new television. At least so you can see the difference with your own eyes before deciding what to do.
Eight small adjustments – 5. HDR
What is HDR technology and how to activate it
Congratulations on the purchase of your brand new HDR television. Did you know that you may need to activate this feature manually?So that’s it. This feature, one of the most important when it comes to improving the image quality of all modern TVs, sometimes comes off, so you will have to look at the controls of your new TV to configure it.
Finding the menu that regulates the activation of the HDR is not always easy. In addition, each manufacturer places it in a different place. Some televisions show it quickly in the image section itself, while others hide it in the submenus that regulate the HDMI connectors . Make sure you spend five minutes checking that you have the HDR function activated. The difference is worth it.
Eight small adjustments – 6. Game mode
Game Mode: why you have to activate it to play with your console
All this over-processing that we have told you about is not free in terms of performance. Reducing noise, interpolating pixels, adjusting brightness on the fly, and so many other alleged improvements in image quality mean that your television will have to process the image quite a bit before it is captured on the screen. And that, in turn, means that a certain latency is going to be introduced.
This increase in latency is especially noticeable in video games, mainly because a delay of a few tenths of a second is introduced from when a button is pressed and until the action is recorded on the screen. A real problem if you like shooting or fighting games. For this reason, many televisions incorporate a “Game Mode” that roughly disables almost all image over-processing to reduce latency and improve control speed.