The Custom Installer: Your New TV Isn't Perfect ...

What I'm about to tell you might not make any sense. In fact, it might even upset you a little. But I'm your friend, and I've promised to tell you the truth about your A/V gear, so it's a risk I'm willing to take. Here goes: Your TV doesn't look right.

Test patterns for adjusting sharpness (top) and contrast (bottom).
I know you're thinking, "He isn't talking to me. I just bought a brand-new high-def set. Top of the line. It doesn't get any more right than my TV." Sorry, friend - I am talking to you. You need to know that your multi-thousand-dollar HDTV can't possibly be looking its best. In fact, its current settings might even be shortening its life. Do I have your attention now?

You know I'm not a doom-and-gloomer and that I wouldn't bring up a problem that couldn't be fixed. But before we get to the solution, I'm going to tell you why your set needs some professional TLC.

Blinded by the Light It would seem logical to assume that people would want to buy the TV with the best picture. But this is America, and we tend to like things bigger, louder, and faster. When it comes to TV, the brightest set - not necessarily the best one - usually wins. And don't think that TV manufacturers don't know that.

The typical store has rows of TVs lined up side by side under strips of fluorescent lighting. It takes an awfully bright picture to overcome that light and an even brighter one to stand out from the crowd. So the manufacturers design their sets so they can sit on a shelf amid all the other TVs in a brightly lit store and scream, "Look at me! I'm the brightest!" When you take your new HDTV out of the box and place it in a less harshly lit environment like your home theater, the picture is going to be off - way off.