Your high-definition television provides excellent images and video performance, but you cannot forget proper calibration and setup for the best possible performance. Accessories such as television stands, wall mounts and cables are also required to complete the installation. Once these elements are combined, your new HDTV goes from a simple television to an entertainment hub.
Today's HDTVs offer densely packed picture elements, known as pixels. The high quantity and small size of these pixels makes their visibility nearly impossible. The advantage to this high resolution is that you can choose the largest television your interior design sense allows without affecting image quality. Your HDTV is best placed at roughly eye level, optimizing contrast and color purity. A comfortable rule for deciding on viewing distance is whether you have to move your head from side to side to watch on-screen action as it unfolds, although your comfort level may vary.
High Definition Multimedia Interface, or HDMI, cables offer the highest resolution and audio performance. All of today's HDTVs offer at least one of these inputs, which may be increased through the use of an external switcher or through a home theater receiver. HDMI ports on an HDTV allow you to plug a single cable from each home theater device to the set, vastly decreasing the nest of cabling and potentially the cabling cost. Component video also handles high definition resolutions of 1080i and 720p if you need to use this connection type. Reasons for moving to component video include running out of HDMI ports on your set or using older components that do not support HDMI.
The sleek profile of the average flat-panel HDTV lends itself to wall mounting. A variety of flat-panel brackets are on the market that support straight, near-flush mounting as well as angling the set via cantilever mount solutions. Rear projection Digital Light Processing, or DLP, sets cannot be wall mounted, meaning you must seek out a console-style stand or use the stand made for the set by the unit's manufacturer. Depending on your design requirements, you may choose a stand for your flat panel as well.
Although your HDTV will support nearly any device regardless of age, your television's capabilities are best used through native HD sources. Blu-ray, high-definition satellite, cable and terrestrial antenna sources are all ideally suited to maximize your set's resolution. All HDTVs incorporate an internal device called a scaler, converting the video from any device and adjusting the size and resolution to match the television's screen. Blu-ray offers native 1080p resolution, while others perform what is known as upscaling, converting lesser resolutions to 1080p. Any source should be set to its maximum output, which is normally 1080p. Most HDTVs offer a mode that eliminates any picture stretching called "Pure Pixel," "Full Pixel" or similar. This shows all available pixels from the source, maximizing picture clarity and ensuring nothing is cropped at the edges of the screen.
Adjustment and Calibration
Although most sets look decent out of the box, they are generally preset to look their best on bright showroom floors. In your home under normal viewing conditions, this setting -- often called "Vivid" -- crushes image detail. Professional calibration services are available from select retailers and Imaging Science Foundation-certified independents, making your set's images more detailed with better color accuracy. An additional benefit is the set uses less power from lower overall brightness, saving on your energy bills and prolonging the life of the television. If you want a better image while spending less money to get there, a variety of calibration discs are available to perform comparatively rudimentary adjustments on your own. In any event, you should enter your set's menu and change from "Vivid" to "Movie," "Cinema" or "Natural."
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