What if we could tell you how to calibrate your TV according to the optimal settings recommended by a group of professional calibration technicians, specific to your HDTV, without spending a single penny? Yes, even without a calibration disc, let alone without the (expensive) professional help of a calibration professional. All you'll need is a website, your television model number, your remote control, and about 5 minutes to change your the quality of your TV set for the better...
If you've ever gone into the options menu for your TV using a remote to tweak the brightness/contrast, you can certainly use Tweak My TV and optimize you TV's image using pre-formulated/tested recommended settings. All you have to do is plug-in those very same setting numbers, and you'll likely have a much nicer, more realistic image than you started off with out of the box (and most people plug in and keep the default settings the same as the very day they unboxed their display).
So for example, let's say you've got a Vizio XVT553SV HDTV. Just search via the drop down menu by brand, then model, and in this case this specific model has recommended User Menu Settings which you choose via remote control:
As you'll note, in many instances turning off certain extra features results actually in a better picture when the goal is realistic image reproduction. Of course, you might want to save this optimized setup as your custom setting (most TVs now let users save tweaked settings), leaving another setting with some of those special effects on, specific to your TV model, for sports, video games and other viewing situations where the changes will actually help, and not hinder picture quality.
There are still plenty of models missing recommended settings (our own 2008 model isn't listed, but it's already optimized via disc), so you may still have to resort to calibration media, but give this a try 1st, since it's free and should take no more than 5 minutes to compare and contrast.