You're blown away by the image quality of televisions on sale at your favorite electronics retailer, but when you take one home, somehow it doesn't look or sound as good as the in-store experience.
Don't fret. It's not you or your new TV.
Your new flat-panel television just needs a bit of tweaking to get the most out of it. And no, you don't need a degree in electrical engineering to pull it off.
Nor do you need to hire anyone — even though the big box store salesperson may suggest you do so.
The following are a few simple tips and tricks to optimize the picture and sound of your new investment. And yes, this advice works to spice up your older home theater setup, too.
Update your box, cables
The first step to getting a good picture is to make sure your main TV source, such as your cable or satellite box, is the best your provider has to offer — or rather, the best you can afford.
If you haven't bought or rented a box in a couple of years, make sure you have at least a high-definition, better known as an HD, receiver. A 4K box is even better.
You would be surprised how many people haven't updated their TV box in many years. Cord cutters who use only streaming services or over-the-air, antenna-based TV reception don't have to worry about that.
But if you prefer to get your content online with services such as Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu or Netflix, make sure you have a fast internet connection for smooth streaming and go with an unlimited data plan if your provider offers it. You won't want a slowdown in the middle of a movie if you hit some sort of data cap.
Use only an HDMI cable to handle your audio and video, which you can pick up even from your local dollar store.
While not every audio-video enthusiast will agree, a tip to vastly improve the picture quality of your television is to turn up the contrast almost to full and reduce the brightness to below half.