How to set up your new TV for the best viewing experience
Few purchases are as big — or as exciting — as a new purchase television. Whether you bought a larger TV or one that delivers a better picture, the impact on the way you watch movies and shows or play games is immediate.
But there are ways to get the most out of your new television than just taking it out of the box and plugging it in. The best TV requires a bit of tinkering to get the most out of them. Don’t worry — we’re here to help you through the steps to get your account set up correctly. A little effort before you buy and before you settle on the couch can have a big effect on your long-term enjoyment.
Before you buy a TV, decide where you will put it. That will give you an idea of how big the TV can be — both in terms of the space you’re trying to put it in and the distance you’ll be sitting most often.
If you’re replacing a TV, you might think you should buy the same size. That depends on the age of the TV. The bezels around the TV are mostly gone, which means you can get a bigger screen in the same space — we recently replaced a 42-inch TV that’s about 10 years old with a 42-inch TV. A 50-inch TV and a new TV fit in the same space. New TVs may also have a higher resolution, meaning you can sit closer without the TV being pixelated.
Talking about how loud the TV can be based on the distance you sit, there are many calculator on the Internet to help. The old rule of thumb is to halve the distance from your seating position in inches to the TV—but that should give you a pretty modest size. For example, if you’re sitting 10 feet away from the TV, that formula says you can get a 60-inch TV. But in reality, you could easily get a 65-inch 4K model — and maybe even a 70-inch one. Trust me, you will quickly get used to the larger size.
Note on TV size: quoted screen sizes (e.g. 55, 65 or 75 inches) are measured diagonally. To get the actual height, width, and depth, you need to dig into the specs.
2. Stand or mount?
While you’re thinking about placement, consider whether you’d rather use the stand that came with the TV or replace it with a stand. third-party stand or wall mount. Separate brackets and mounts allow you to do things like rotate the TV or even extend the TV for the best viewing angle.
To find the right sized stand or mount, find the VESA specification for your TV — this will be in millimeters, like 400 x 300. VESA is the standard your TV uses, so you You can find a holder that matches your model.
Viewing angle is an important consideration if you care about image quality. Ideally, the screen should be at eye level and you should be looking directly at it. If you place the TV too high or to the side, you will experience viewing angle problems, which may result in a blurred picture.
3. Connect and download your apps
Once you’ve got the TV in place, one of the first things you’ll need to do is connect it to the Internet (unless you find one of the few “dumb” TVs currently for sale). There are several operating systems available for smart TVs, and the initial setup process will vary depending on which one you purchased. LG runs WebOS, Samsung uses Tizen OS, and many TVs use Google TV or Fire TV. They will all guide you through the setup process.
Most TVs can connect via Wi-Fi, which is certainly easy. But if your wireless connection is not good in the room where you put the TV, you may want to use a wired Ethernet connection.
Once you’re online, you’ll want to start downloading apps for the services you use. And then you have to log in to each one. Some offer QR codes, others allow you to sign in through a web browser, and some still require you to enter your username and password on the TV screen — a process I can’t wait to make. lost forever.
If you find yourself not liking your TV’s operating system or it doesn’t have the apps you need, you can always bypass it by plugging in a streaming devicesuch as a Roku, Fire TV stick or apple tv.
If you have devices to connect to your TV, such as a streaming device, game console, cable box, or DVD player, you’ll want to make sure your TV has the right connection. right — and that you’ve got the right cables.
Most devices use HDMI to connect to your TV, but older accessories may have component or composite outputs — and some TVs these days come with those outputs. So make sure your TV has the input you need, or update your device to one that uses HDMI.
When connecting via HDMI, choose the port wisely. Most TVs have three or four HDMI inputs, but not all are the same. An input must be labeled ARC or eARC — save that input to connect to a soundbar or home theater receiver. The Audio Return Channel (ARC) allows audio to be sent to the speakers from the TV as well as video to be sent to the TV, all over a single cable.
If you have a Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, you’ll want to connect it to an HDMI port that supports HDMI 2.1 (not all TVs offer this). The latest HDMI version takes advantage of features like 4K resolution and 120 Hz refresh rate support for incredibly smooth gameplay. You may need to purchase an HDMI cable to take advantage of HDMI 2.1’s most advanced features.
TVs today usually have at least some picture mode for you to choose from. These are pre-configured settings, with names like “Vivid” and “Movie”. Each mode will change the image quite significantly, such as making the image brighter or more colorful. The best approach is to try each one and use the one that you like best. Every room and every pair of eyes is different, so there is no right answer. Purists tend to choose “Movie” or its equivalent as it tends to yield the most realistic colors.
If your TV supports Dolby Vision, HDR10, or HDR10+, your picture mode may change automatically when you’re watching something encoded with those technologies. High dynamic range (HDR) technologies include information on how the TV should adjust for each scene. There may also be some picture mode options when HDR content is being viewed.
Once you’ve found a picture mode you like, you may want to further tweak it to please your eyes. These options are usually found under Advanced Settings in the Picture Options menu.
My advice is that you should turn off motion smoothing. This has different names for different TVs — LG calls it TruMotion, Samsung uses Clear Motion — but each is aimed at reducing blur. Regardless of the purpose, it creates an effect called the “soap opera effect,” where the image is too blurry, as if seen through a filter. Many people feel uncomfortable with this effect; it often makes me feel nauseous.
You can also manually adjust brightness, color, sharpness, and more to get the best picture in your space. If the preset picture modes aren’t your thing, you should definitely explore the functionality of each picture option. You can also search for combinations of settings that have worked for other people with your TV model to start with.
While today’s TVs produce an impressive picture, most TV speakers sound terrible. That’s unfortunate because the sound element of a movie, show or game can bring the experience to life. But the TV’s poor speakers can be fixed by adding a sound system or home theater sound system.
Soundbar is the easiest way to improve sound. You can spend as little as a few hundred dollars (our overall top pick, Roku Streambar Pro, only $150) or more than a thousand (we recommend $899 Sonos . arc for more premium sound), depending on your budget and how important the sound is to you. Look for a soundbar that supports Dolby Atmos, the latest audio technology that delivers the most accurate surround sound. Many soundbars also come with virtual surround sound settings to help fill your room with sound.
If you can’t rotate the soundbar, you can still improve your sound through your TV’s settings. For example, you can boost the bass or use the TV’s own virtual surround sound mode.
8. Tune in and enjoy
After you’ve got your shot as close to perfect as possible, sit back and enjoy. Most likely you won’t need to change too much over time. But you may notice some things that bother you. After you’ve had some quality viewing, go back and try different picture and sound settings to see if the ones you’ve chosen still work best for you. In the end, the right options are the ones that make you enjoy watching the most.