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Assessing Worthiness of an HD Calibration

One of the first questions asked of many new HD consumers is whether they want a "professional calibration" of their sets to make sure it's providing the best technical video/audio possible. But at a cost of anywhere from $150 to $300 from such CE retailers as Best Buy, it's a question few take lightly. And according to one major publication, it's an added step in the HD process not often worth the payout for most consumers.

A new DTV unit's calibration cost is not excessive for what it involves: professional calibrating that taps in menus that are otherwise obscure to amateurs that can tweak a variety of video modes to enhance HD quality to their zenith. Yet calibrated picture, when adjusted correctly, nevertheless could look darker than usual (or at least what a typical viewers has become accustomed. Subsequently, even when video has been correctly calibrated to be technically accurate, "many people prefer the TV [video] without it," according to the media column of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The newspaper suggests that while some DTV sets may have their color, contrast and other options turned up a bit high for display-store purposes, most consumers can achieve results they most prefer by adjusting various key settings themselves — notably be sure to switch any "Vivid" picture mode to "Standard," set the color temperature to "warm," and when viewing an HD picture, be sure to not stretch the video content using such devices as "zoom" or "wide zoom" (with some brands such as Sony, the proper setting is "full").

Lafe Decker, the longtime owner of Triangle Audio & Video in Pittsburgh, told the Post-Gazette, "To say that a brand new TV selling for hundreds, or even thousands of dollars, now needs several hundred dollars' worth of picture adjustments before you can watch it, is a bit much... especially since the resulting picture is kind of dim and a lot of people won't like it as much as the regular settings."