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How do I calibrate my HDTV?

        Tech | HDTV

Professional HDTV Calibration Versus Do It Yourself

The biggest benefit of paying a professional to calibrate your new television is that you'll probably end up with a better picture than you would arrive at on your own. That's because most calibration technicians use precise instruments to measure the images on your HDTV. They also use codes to access special menus to fine-tune settings to get just the right amount of color, brightness, contrast and sharpness on the screen.

Before hiring someone to calibrate your television, make sure that he or she is qualified. Certification from the Imaging Science Foundation is a good credential. While most people in the home theater business are honest and will do their best to make your HDTV look as good as possible, there are a few scam artists who lack any training in HDTV calibration. You could do it just as well yourself and save the money.

Technicians may also take the extra step to offer additional advice. They may demonstrate the best viewing angle and distance to get the most out of your television. A good technician can advise you on wall colors, light levels and other environmental factors that can affect your viewing experience, too.

Most of the time, a qualified technician will be able to produce better results than you could on your own. Whether the difference in quality is worth the price is a matter of individual preference. But you should be able to tell the difference between the factory settings on the HDTV and the newly calibrated set.

If you decide to calibrate your set on your own, there are a couple of different methods you can use. One is to purchase some of the specialized equipment home theater installation professionals rely upon. But that equipment tends to be expensive and you probably won't use it very often. The other option is to use a calibration DVD.

With a calibration DVD and a little patience, you can tweak your HDTV's settings so that they complement your equipment and viewing environment. You probably won't be able to make adjustments as delicate as a professional, but the results may be good enough for you.