Have you ever wondered why the picture on your television never looks quite as good as it did in the home theater section at the local electronics store? Out of the box, your TV is at factory settings, so the picture is likely flat and not as appealing. You can use a TV calibration disc, with its test patterns, tools and instructions, to make your HDTV look and sound its best. Be sure to visit our learning center for more articles on LCD calibration.
As you visit our TV calibration disc comparisons and reviews, the top three discs, Joe Kane Productions’ DVD HD Basics, High Definition Benchmark from Spears & Munsil, and Disney WOW World of Wonder, have the video calibration tools needed to get your picture looking terrific. In some cases, the HDTV calibration discs and standard definition discs have audio tools to adjust your television’s sound and surround sound speakers as well.
Some electronics stores have special rooms setup specifically to give you the full home theater experience, including dim lighting, carpet to help stop sound from echoing and TVs that are over calibrated to the point that the picture nearly looks “hyper-realistic.” In other cases, they’ve had to adjust the picture to look good under harsh store lighting. Either way, your HDTV store experience will likely not be the same as your experience with your own home theater setup. Calibrating your TVs settings to be ideal for your home environment can be a challenge without a TV calibration disc.
What a great TV calibration disc will do is walk you through the variety of video test patterns, step-by-step, to adjust the overall picture quality of your television, so the video looks good in your home, under the lighting conditions where the TV will reside. The audio calibration tools available on some discs can help adjust your system's sound to be ideal for its environment, too.
It should be noted that the top five TV calibration discs are mastered in high definition and available on Blu-ray disc. These are perfect for calibrating your HDTV. If you have a standard definition television (SDTV), take a look at the final five discs on our list, which were mastered in standard definition and ship on DVD.
Whether you're set is HD or SD, make sure you’re using the right TV calibration disc for your television,. Don’t expect to get an accurate calibration if you use a DVD in standard definition with an HDTV and vice versa. There are too many differences between high definition and standard definition (including resolution, color and aspect ratio) for the calibration tools to translate effectively.
These are important features to consider when shopping for a TV calibration disc.
Ease of Use
The TV calibration disc should be easy to use, with proper instructions and tutorials to ensure you’re getting the most out of the tools to adjust your TV’s picture and sound. You don’t need to be a professionally trained video engineer to perform TV calibration; the tutorials should be easy to follow so you can calibrate without any problems.
A great TV calibration disc will ship with a comprehensive set of video tools, including test patterns to adjust your television’s color, contrast and brightness, sharpness, aspect ratio and more. There will also likely be some video clips to gauge how a picture looks on the calibrated television.
Some discs also ship with a variety of audio calibration tools to adjust volume levels, check a surround sound system’s speakers, calibrate the subwoofer and more.
It’s important to know the video resolution of the TV calibration disc you’re considering. If you have an HDTV, you’ll want to choose a Blu-ray disc mastered in high definition. For standard definition televisions, a DVD with SD tools will be the best.
Help & Support
Aside from the instructions and video tutorials, consider what other kind of help options are available. Is there a printed manual? What about online help, such as additional tutorials, either illustrated text or video? Plus, if the disc fails, will the manufacturer replace it with a new one?
When you decide to buy a new television, you probably want something that will give you the best possible picture quality. Out of the box, the video will likely be flat due to factory settings. TV calibration discs can help you accurately adjust the video quality, and sometimes the sound as well, giving you the best possible viewing experience.
At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don't Have To.™