How to Set Up Your New TV


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Congratulations on that fancy OLED 4K or just really grotesquely huge television set you’ve got there. Setting it up should be a breeze, but there are still a few things you’re going to want to consider.

Placement

We know, we know, you want to just plug it in and turn your brain off. But where you plug in your television matters more than you’d think, and there’s no one-space-fits-all solution.

A lot of factors go into how crisp your television’s picture looks that have nothing to do with the settings (we’ll get to those in a minute). You’ll want to sit a specific distance from your set depending on factors like its size, aspect ratio, and resolution. The basic rule of thumb is to sit a distance away that’s roughly two times the diagonal length of your set. So if it’s a 60-incher, try to place it 120 inches from your couch. A little closer than that is OK too. In fact, the higher the resolution, the closer you can sit without being able to discern individual pixels.

It sounds complicated, but it’s really not so bad. Besides, that’s why viewing distance calculators exist.

Calibration and Settings

The biggest mistake people make with new TVs is assuming it simply looks the way it does. Not so! There are lots of tweaks you can make right away to ensure an optimal viewing experience.

Picture Mode: If this is set to Demo or Showroom, switch it on over to Home or Standard.

Aspect Ratio: Set this to “Auto-Adjust” or “Normal” if your picture looks stretched-out or collapsed.

Motion Enhancement: This goes by many names (Clear Motion Rate, Motion Flow, et cetera) but it always results in making everything you watch look smoothed out, like a soap opera. Burn it with fire. (Even Tom Cruise hates it, and if you can’t trust him, then who can you trust?)

Set-Specific Calibration: Your levels! Your levels are usually not ideal out of the box. You can tinker with your contrast and backlight and sharpness on your own, but we’d recommend hitting up the AVS Forums pages on display settings. There you’ll find precise expert recommendations for calibrating most of the top sets on the market. If you can’t find your specific boob tube, you can post yourself asking for help.

Smart Start

You could go through and sign into all your Netflix and Hulu and (shudder) Twitter accounts on your smart TV. But also maybe don’t! Get a Roku or a Chromecast or an Apple TV instead. Their interfaces are more reliable, their selections are much larger, and they’re cheap as all heck. It’ll be the best present you ever gave yourself.

Now how about something to watch?

This setup guide was updated in December 2020.


How to Set Up All Your New Tech

You got a cool gadget! You lucky duck. Now you’ve gotta set it up. You poor sap. WIRED’s master guide can help.





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