5 Default TV Settings You Need to Change Right Out of the Box

updated Sep 23, 2019
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Credit: Lana Kenney

Welcome to Watch Week! In honor of fall TV season and the newly minted Emmy winners, we’re streaming new content daily about watching television—because after all, watching TV is one of the best parts about being at home. Catch up on all of our episodes articles here.

Picking out the perfect TV for your needs and space is hard enough work. Bringing the TV home and setting it up? Just as complicated—unless, of course, you’re in the know about all the TV settings that will optimize your viewing experience.

Whether you’re in the market for a new television or want to make sure your current TV is set up *just right,* here are a few of the most important settings to adjust right off the bat. 

Motion Smoothing Effect

You know that annoying setting that causes the TV picture to “slide” instead of crisply move across the screen? Some call it the “soap opera” effect, but the technical name is “TruMotion.” And unless you like feeling like you’re watching “Days of Our Lives” at all times, you should definitely turn it off, according to Garrett Heath, an avid TV watcher and founder of marketingbytes.io. “This is the number one annoyance for me as a viewer, yet so many people don’t even know this setting can be changed!” he says. 

Not surprisingly, Heath isn’t the only one who isn’t exactly a fan of TruMotion’s annoying over-smoothing effect. For instructions on how to turn it off on most TVs, check out this helpful guide

Brightness-to-Contrast Ratio

As long as you’re not using your TV for gaming on consoles or PCs, you will also want to adjust its brightness-to-contrast ratio relative to the brightness of the room it’s in. “It’s important that the image can be seen with its intended contrast during bright sunlight while also not being too overwhelming in the night time,” says professional gamer Freya Fox. For instance, Fox says if the room will always be dark—for example, if you’re setting up the TV in a basement room without windows—make sure the brightness isn’t too harsh. A good rule of thumb, Fox says, is that the depths of the blacks should be deep enough that you can see most shadows on the screen, but not so dark that the shadows seem unnatural. 

Credit: Minette Hand

Blue Light Filtering

This is an important setting for night-time TV watchers: To prevent eye strain or sleep cycle disruption, see if your television has a blue light filtering setting and make sure it’s set “on” in the evenings. (If your TV doesn’t have this option, then it may be worth investing in a pair of blue-light blocking glasses).

Gaming Mode 

If you’re planning to play games on your TV, Fox says changing the display to gaming mode is a must (some TVs call this “picture profile.”) “This is important as it will unlock the full refresh rate and reduce input lag with a subtle loss in TV brightness and clarity,” Fox says. “Gamers need the highest fresh rate possible and lowest input lag, especially for action-heavy games like Fortnite.”

Preset Picture Settings 

When you’re watching a show or movie, you’ll likely want the picture on your TV to be bright but also warm in tone. Nick Galov, co-founder of Review42, recommends avoiding your TV’s “Vivid” option, which makes the picture appear very blue and cold. “Unless you are watching TV in a very lit place, you should aim for the Cinema or Movie options,” he says.