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Preparing to Calibrate Your System's Video

The component most people are interested in calibrating is the video display. Correct calibration is especially important if you have an HDTV-capable widescreen model because even a slight maladjustment can result in significant degradation in picture quality. As good a picture as these sets can reproduce, they can also look almost unwatchable if tweaked too far in the wrong direction.

Before you begin the calibration process, you should turn off all the set's automatic settings. You can't make fine adjustments to the picture with these automatic controls turned on; you'll also need to leave them off after you perform the calibration, or else all your work will be reset to the "auto picture" position. Even though you might think these automatic picture controls are there to make your life easier, they actually result in a less-than-optimal picture.

You also want to reset your set's color temperature control to the standard or neutral setting. If you select a warmer color temperature, the picture will have a slightly red cast. If you choose a cooler color temperature, the picture will have a slightly blue cast. Color temperature is measured in Kelvins; you want your picture to be as close to 6,500 K as possible.

Some televisions have both a standard and a "professional" mode. The pro mode typically allows access to more controls. In this case, more is better. In addition, note that some sets let you adjust the picture settings separately for each input, so you have to go through the complete calibration process for each input you're using. What looks good for playing DVDs might not be the right settings for watching HDTV broadcasts.

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