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What is TV Calibration?

By Ken Black
Updated May 16, 2024
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TV calibration is a feature that applies mainly to LCD and plasma televisions, two of the newer display technologies on the market. When looking at televisions in a retail environment, they are not calibrated for optimal viewing. Therefore, many TV sets may need to to be calibrated for home viewing once the set is taken home.

In a retail environment, the key, at least in the minds of many manufacturers, is to get their sets recognized more so than all the others in competition with it. To do that, they television must be brighter, and flashier than all the others and because the manufacturer does not know which boxed set will be used as a floor model, they are all set the same way. This may look impressive in the store, but is not the optimal way to watch television at home.

Therefore, TV calibration becomes a necessary function, at least for some televisions. For some general fine-tuning, the new television owner may be able handle basic color adjustment and resolution calibration without professional help. This type of TV calibration requires accessing the main menu and adjusting brightness, color balance, sharpness and other such things. It is recommended not to begin a TV calibration until the television has been on at least 30 minutes to ensure it is properly warmed up.

One of the more difficult tasks to accomplish is grayscale calibration. This type of TV calibration usually requires a professional as different instruments will measure the white balance on the television and set it as accurately as possible. This will ensure true whites and true blacks, or at least come as close as possible. If the grayscale calibration is off, then many times all the other colors will also be off.

In some cases, a plasma or LCD TV calibration will come with several factory options for adjusting the color. This may be a way to adjust colors but it is always best to rely on your own judgment when using these features. If something does not look right, chances are it will not look right later on, either.

In some cases, retailers may include a setup and initial TV calibration with a service agreement or purchase. If not, paying for such a service may cost anywhere from $200 US Dollars (USD) to $1,000 USD or more, depending on the type of set involved. Chances are, for more LCD and plasma sets, the cost will be toward the lower end of this range. Front projection TVs may cost a little more to calibrate.

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Discussion Comments

By anon144152 — On Jan 18, 2011

Well, if you knew what you were talking about anon, an LED tv is an LCD display, you would know they both need to be calibrated. If the picture quality is not what you wanted then you can have them come back out and re-do it. It could also be your tv source that is not quality. Calibration is the best thing you can do to get THX certified video quality on a television.

By anon139808 — On Jan 05, 2011

I had my Samsung Calibrated because Best Buy said it had to be done. Now I find out it's for LCD and Plasma HGTVs. I have a LED. The picture is terrible and Best Buy will not return my phone calls. I had to pay $149.00 for this ridiculous service.

If you ask me, the general public is being robbed. Anyone can set their own color. If I had my way I would sue Best Buy in a class action suit and make them return the money they have taken from their customers.

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