Getting the most from your 4K TV

So, you’ve finally upgraded, feels great right?, you have this huge new panel at the centre of your living room, and you’re ready to sit down and take in your favourite movies and shows, ready to hit Netflix and binge, however, your TV needs setup ready to show all that 4k goodness.

All improvements will seem magical, but there’s such a thing as right and wrong prescription, while there are actually pro calibrators out there that’s not feasible for most people, and there’s a lot you can do yourself to make things better anyway.

First, a couple caveats, not all panels will have every single option we discuss here, and the marketing minds at each of these companies spent days, maybe even weeks, coming up with exciting names to make “motion interpolation” sound like magic instead of science. And there’s a difference between “properly calibrated” and “personal preference.” Neither is necessarily wrong, and no one can tell you whether or not you like something. With that said, it’s worth diving in to make sure we’re getting the most out of our expensive televisions.

Your exact mileage may vary depending on your set and your preferences, and if you’re an advanced home theatre geek, we hope you’ll enjoy our trip into the menu systems of 4K sets and jump into the comments to add your thoughts.

Original settings:

Let’s start with the easy stuff. You may want to mark down or take pics with your phone your settings before you change anything – just in case.

Sharpness/Backlight:

Turn that sharpness all the way down. This one is easy, whatever your television’s ‘Sharpness’ option is set to, turn it to zero – or whatever your television menu’s equivalent of zero is.Your sharpness setting, otherwise known as edge enhancement, is meant to – as the name describes – enhance edges. Except that in this modern age of digital televisions playing digital content, everything is already very clean. So what you end up getting instead a nasty halo effect.

How your TV deals with sharpness might vary, zero may be the far-left option on the bar, or maybe the exact middle. Find that setting and turn it all the way down. There’s such a thing as too bright. TV manufacturers love to crank the brightness and backlight on their sets up to make them pop in the store, but you don’t need that. Backlight should reflect the brightness of the room you’re watching in. If you’re watching in an otherwise pitch-black room, you’ll want to turn your backlight most of the way down. In an always-lit room, that backlight might be cranked way up. Try turning this setting down until it’s just barely too dim, and then start bringing it back up until it feels right.

Brightness & Contrast:

Your brightness and contrast settings won’t change much on most televisions. These are more of something to tweak. If you’re watching something like Planet Earth and a cloud looks like an empty white space instead of a fluffy wad of cotton, you might need adjust your contrast to make the detail visible. A dark scene in a movie might reveal that your brightness needs to be turned up or down a few notches.

Update your firmware:

A firmware update can often fix problems, So don’t ignore those updates, but do research them first! They can have some pretty far-ranging consequences. After doing that, though, you may want to peek through the menus and turn off anything you can that sends usage data back home to the manufacturer.

Game mode:

This is an option many televisions have that is meant be used – as the name describes – with video games, many of which require ultra-fast response. A pro-level Street Fighter player can tell the difference between 20ms and 40ms of input latency, for example, and game mode removes the post-processing effects that can make this latency balloon up to 60 or 80ms. While it’s possible some sets still keep some processing on in Game Mode, it’s the fastest shortcut to getting the cleanest, most unadulterated image. If you’re buying a television with the express purpose of playing games, input latency should be your first consideration, before anything else. 

HDMI Cables and Ports

Not
all HDMI cables and ports are created equal. The cabling side of things is pretty simple here, use a current HDMi  “High Speed”  4k cable which should be fine for  HDR-capable devices such as UHD Blu-ray player, Foxtel iQ4, AppleTV4, Xbox One S or X, a PlayStation 4 Pro, or a Roku. if your going from receiver to a Projector for instance then the Ruipro HDMI Fibre cable is recommended for 10m+. 

The new spec for HDMI 2.1 was set in early 2017, yet now in 2019 suitable TV’s are starting to appear at high pricing like 4K did 4 years ago, yet no content yet, but if wall installing go for HDMI 4k 8K cable. HDMI 2.1 will require new HDMI Ultra High Speed” cables capable of 8k and all its goodness including super fast speeds tp 48Gbps (4k is max18Gbps) 

The current spec, HDMI 2.0b, asks for almost four times as much bandwidth as HDMI 1.3, while the upcoming 2.1 asks for ten times as much. that’s not even getting into all the other capabilities that additional bandwidth enables. The cables might look the same, but an old HDMI cable simply isn’t capable of doing what new ones can do. 

Once you have the right cable (from EZYHD of course!) , you’ll want to check the ports themselves. Consult your television’s manual for this. While some sets might support HDR on all ports, many will support it on just one port, or on all but one port.

Turn on HDR, and beware HDR+:

You’ll likely need to turn on HDR manually – it won’t be on by default. If you’re playing HDR content, such as a UHD Blu-ray, your television should typically pop up a message to the effect of “now playing HDR content.” If it doesn’t, make sure the HDR setting is turned on for that input, Meanwhile, you’ll want to look out for faux HDR settings. On someTV;s for example, this setting is called HDR+. What that does is simulate HDR content by cranking the backlight of the set way up and making it “feel” better, the same way motion smoothing does, similarly, calibrate a TV input after you’ve turned on HDR. The HDR input settings may be different than the non-HDR settings and enabling that setting may reset the other options back to defaults.

Watch something you know:

After you input your settings, be patient. Give the TV some time to warm up. And then watch a 4k movie you know to see if you can pick that up along with the set. If something’s way off, chances are you’ll notice it watching a movie you’re familiar with. There are also Blu-ray disks available that will help you calibrate the non-HDR settings on your television, and if you like to tinker around with this stuff, they’re fun to mess with.

So before we go, check out our huge range of 4k/8k HDMI cables built like a brick dunny and made to last, and if your thinking of having TV’s in other rooms see our HDMI splitter range some can even downscale (4k) to non 4k TV’s. Oh’ one last thing see our blog on wall mounting TV’s some great tips there.