In this guide I will explain how to properly calibrate your plasma TV for best visual experience. This is a process that can be complicated or easy depending on the path you take, the amount of money you want to spend and your personal abilities. No matter how high the quality of your plasma TV is you can enhance it even more by calibrating it correctly. Also the calibration process can make a not so great plasma TV look better so it is certainly something you should do after you buy and install your plasma TV.
What You Get from Calibrating your Plasma TV
First of all, the overall picture will look better for whatever you usually watch on your TV. You will get better color accuracy so the images will look more natural and also you will improve the contrast which will result in a higher detail. You also extend your plasma TV life by reducing its aging rate so you will have a great picture for a longer time. As a side effect of correct calibration, you can expect the power consumption to reduce so you will save a few bucks with the power bill. So basically you get more from your plasma TV while saving money and saving the ozone layer.
Best Way to Watch TV
Some people watch TV during daytime while the room is well lit by sun, others during night and turning off the lights. What you need to know is that ambient light is the enemy of great picture quality. Total darkness is much better but still not the best. Ideally, when watching TV, you would turn off the lights or pull the curtains or blinds if it is during daytime and have a dim light behind the plasma TV. The role of the dim light is to reduce the eye strain you might get by watching TV a long time in total darkness and it also enhances the picture by affecting your perception in a good way. Some manufacturers make plasma TV that have a feature called Ambilight which does exactly this and it does it better (however don’t base your buying decision solely on this). You should avoid at all costs having light reflecting from your plasma TV screen because that will be very annoying and will have a very bad impact on the perceived quality.
Now you know how to setup the environment for the best experience. Considering that you will normally watch TV in these conditions, you should setup the ambient light in the same way when calibrating your plasma TV. Ambient light affects your perception so you should calibrate your plasma TV in the same conditions you will be when watching it. But what if you don’t like to watch TV in darkness, you don’t have blinds or you don’t want to change the lighting. In this case you should perform the plasma TV calibration process with the lights on, during day or simply put in the same conditions you intend to watch it. Another think you MUST do is to sit at the right distance. If you sit too close from your TV you will certainly see flaws in the picture because your eyes will distinguish the pixels that form the image. Hopefully you bought your plasma TV knowing what the optimal size is for the distance you are sitting. If you want to learn more about this subject read the Plasma TV Size & Optimal Viewing Distance guide where you can also find a table with the recommended distances for each screen size.
You Have Three Choices
First is free because you do it yourself (DIY) and you don’t have to buy anything. It is not the best choice especially if you don’t have the eye for this. It is however much better than nothing. Second way to go is to buy a HDTV calibration DVD and use it throughout the calibration process. This will significantly increase the quality of the calibration and it will also make the whole process easier and faster. The third choice is to hire a professional technician to do this. It is expensive (about $400) but you will get the best possible calibration. A professional technician has both the training and the tools (the expensive kind of tools) to make your plasma TV offer you its best picture. I am going to explain to you what to do in each case – how to do it yourself, where to buy a calibration DVD and how to use it and of course where to find a professional technician.