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How to fix your TV settings to make your screen look perfect



It feels like it’s been months since the premiere of “The Long Night,” a highly anticipated episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones featuring the longest battle sequence in the history of film. Like the rest of the fantasy epic’s final season, it was divisive; some fans found it to be an enthralling example of the series at its best, while others found it to be an unsatisfying and abrupt ending to a major storyline.

One thing people on both sides of the aisle agreed upon was that it’s a little difficult to see what’s going on during the episode. Fans contended that it was too dark, while the episode’s cinematographer insisted people needed to recalibrate their TVs

Whether or not it was an appropriate response to criticism, he might’ve been onto something: Plenty of people buy TVs without ever touching the display settings. This can lead to situations where shows and movies look flat-out wrong.

We here at Mashable like our media consumed as the original creators intended, and thus, we decided to help you out with a basic guide for what these settings mean and how to calibrate them to your liking. With that in mind, here is how to fix your TV settings to make your screen look perfect:

Smooth isn’t always better

The number one, easiest, no-brainer choice everyone should make when they get a new TV is to turn off motion smoothing. Lots of TVs still come with this despicable feature on by default, and it’s a plague upon us all.

For the uninitiated, motion smoothing (sometimes called things like “motion enhancement”) artificially juices up the framerate (or number of frames displayed per second) of whatever you’re watching. In less technical terms, it gives movies and shows that were intentionally shot one way the “soap opera effect” of looking more smooth than they should.

Don’t take any chances with motion smoothing. Most of the other settings we’ll cover here can come down to personal preference, but motion smoothing is jarring and the people who make the things we love tend to hate it. Just ask the guys who made Stranger Things

Do you want to disappoint the 'Stranger Things' kids? Don't use motion smoothing.

Do you want to disappoint the ‘Stranger Things’ kids? Don’t use motion smoothing.

Let the TV do the work

Motion smoothing aside, the default settings on TVs from major brands will probably be acceptable to most people in most situations. However, if you notice that dark scenes are consistently difficult to parse, there are easy steps you can take to rectify it.

Brands like Samsung and TCL have online how-to guides for picture adjustment, which can be helpful. One very important thing to note is that TVs often have different picture modes, or presets for different types of content like movies, sports, and video games. If you don’t feel like individually tweaking settings, this can be an easy way to make things look better.

Places like Lifehacker and Engadget generally recommend the “Movie” or “Cinema” setting for most things you might watch. It should theoretically set brightness, contrast, color, and other settings to a point that’s flattering to most movies and shows. 

However, as Samsung’s website notes, this mode is best suited to watching with the lights off. If your TV is in a room with lots of natural light or you light to keep the lights on, the standard configuration might be better. It’s up to you.

Get your hands dirty if you need to

This might look better if you mess with TV settings yourself.

This might look better if you mess with TV settings yourself.

Finally, if those preset picture modes still don’t do the trick, you can dive into the settings themselves. Brightness and contrast can be your best friends or fiercest enemies, specifically when it comes to scenes that are too dark, according to Lifehacker.

When you adjust the brightness setting, you’re telling the TV how bright the darkest black elements should look on the screen. They’ll be more grey than black if you set it too high, but lower brightness might only make things even harder to see. 

On the flipside, contrast is a setting that tells the TV what total white should look like. If you really want to get down in the mud, turn on “The Long Night” and adjust these two settings until it looks a little more scrutable to you. 

If you want, you can also mess with the color setting on your TV. Turning it all the way down will remove color entirely, while bumping it up will make them more saturated. Finally, some TVs have a backlight that can be adjusted in the settings menu. This can be an additional tool to help out if scenes are a little too dark.

If you’re not an expert on the subject, it might be best to just stick with one of the preset settings and call it a day. However, it’s important to remember that these settings are here for you if you still aren’t satisfied.

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