Calibrating New Televisions

A Reader Asks:

Do I need my new flat panel television calibrated in my home? I’m told this is something that should be done with new sets, but I have to tell you so far the picture seems pretty good.  In your opinion is this something that should be done with these new sets…?

Excellent question! If you feel a calibration is right for you. That is exactly what you should have done. As for my opinion: If you are satisfied and happy with the image and sonic performance of your new TV I wouldn’t change it.

The “need” sometime comes from some retailers who not only want to sell service contracts and expensive, high tech cabling that has the same performance as good quality, standard cabling costing much less, they also want you to consider having them come out and set up your new purchase in your home to “customize it for your personal viewing and listening space.” There is usually a fee attached to this service call.


This “gotta have it” sales pitch is much the same when buying a new car as it is when buying a top of the line “Uber-Television.” Most vehicles today offer a nice “standard” package with many creature comforts. The dealer makes some profit on the cars but the aftermarket “dealer installed” items like undercoating and rust proofing are their big money makers.

The car leaves the factory with a warranty. In 5-, 10-, or 15-years when you trade your care in for a new car, aftermarket rust proofing won’t make any difference in value and you likely would have gotten the same performance if you did not choose the dealer installed option. Did you need it? Probably not but the dealer made you think you did and made a hansom profit to boot.

From the tens of thousands of LCD, DLP, CRT and Plasma televisions seen in professional dealings with clients, it has been observed that a consumer level set comes out of the box ready to roll.


There is one recommendation that I do like to offer–Go into your setups and change from the brightest most vivid setting to another setup that pleases you. Do not change anything else but that setting and live with the set for about a week or two before you decide you need to change it back or have it calibrated. TVs leave the factory defaulted to pumped color and contrast because the factory wants it to look its best if it should be put in the bright lights of a store showroom display. Another reason for moving the set from the brightest setting is it will prolong the life of the unit’s internal lamp.  


The only calibrations that I normally recommend are in critical production applications where a wall of television monitors in a television control room need to be critically color matched. Other areas are in hospitals and operating rooms, photographic applications and graphics workstations where critical technical color observation is required for a medical/surgical diagnosis, printing application or digital photographic processing. Corporate displays usually need critical color matching too. Corporations are very fussy about proper reproduction of their corporate identity, including color. -33-  


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