5 steps to get the best TV picture

If you’re in the market for a new TV or setting up a TV in your new home, you’ll want to position your TV and your seating to get the best TV picture and viewing experience. Some of the things to consider when setting up your TV include:

Here are 5 steps to getting the best TV picture quality in your home. 

1. Choose the right TV size and resolution

Screen size and resolution are important considerations when shopping for a new TV. Both will have an impact on TV picture quality.

Know how big you can go

If you have a specific spot where your TV can fit, such as space in an entertainment center, measure the area before shopping for a TV. You don’t want to get a TV that’s too large for the space.

What’s the best TV resolution?

High definition, or HD, is the new standard for televisions, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find a TV with less than 1080p or 1080i resolution. Without going into too much detail about pixels and how they’re arranged, know that 1080p offers a slightly sharper picture than 1080i, especially during fast-motion scenes.

While 1080p somewhat edges out 1080i, neither resolution can compete with 4K, aka Ultra-HD. 4K resolution has four times the pixels of 1080p format, which makes for drastically sharper images, bolder colors and a better picture in fast-motion scenes. All that depends on if you sit the right distance from the TV —more on that in a bit.

2. Decide to mount or stand

Once you’ve got your TV, decide whether you want to set it on top of a piece of furniture or hang it on the wall. It sounds like a minor decision, but it can definitely affect your viewing experience.

Using the TV stand vs. mounting

There are pros and cons to both sides, so it really comes down to personal preference. Here are some reasons you may want, or not want, to mount your TV.

Pros of using the TV stand

  • Easy set up/installation
  • No holes in the wall
  • Cords are hidden behind furniture
  • Can easily be moved or repositioned

Cons of using the TV stand

  • Clutter or distractions around TV
  • Not secured in place
  • Need a surface to set it on

Pros of mounting the TV

  • Less clutter and distractions
  • TV is securely in place
  • Takes up less space
  • Can adjust height and angle

Cons of mounting the TV

  • Holes in the wall
  • Not easily moved
  • Hanging cords can be an eyesore

For the best TV picture, we recommend mounting your TV on the wall. Mounting the TV gives you the freedom to place the TV at your desired height and angle. Since most TV mounts can pivot, you can adjust the angle for a center view from virtually anywhere in the room.

3. Arrange seating for the perfect viewing spot

Now for the most important part – where to sit for the best TV picture! Try to position your seating for the most direct view of the TV. How close to the TV that you should sit depends on your screen size and resolution.

How far should I sit from the TV?

These are recommended seating distances from the TV for the best picture as calculated by this handy TV viewing distance calculator.

Distance (ft.) for HD4 to 6.64.4 to 7.45.2 to 8.76.2 to 10.36.8 to 11.37.4 to 12.48 to 13.48.6 to 14.4
Distance (ft.) for 4K3.2 to 53.6 to 5.74.2 to 6.65 to 7.95.5 to 8.76 to 9.46.5 to 10.27 to 11

You might think that the better the resolution, the farther away you can sit from the screen, but that’s actually not the case. The farther back you sit, the less your eyes pick up on the differences between standard-definition, high-definition and 4K resolution. Also, the closer you get to a TV with standard or HD resolution, the more likely you are to be able to see individual pixels.

Ultra HD lets you sit closer to the TV without noticing individual pixels, so feel free to scoot your couch a little closer when watching 4K. And if you’re wondering, it’s OK to sit close to the TV. According to the American Association of Ophthalmology, sitting close to the TV won’t damage your eyes.

4. Adjust room lighting and picture settings

Minor adjustments to the ambient lighting in the room and to the picture settings on your TV are the final touches for getting the best TV picture.

Too much light in a room, especially if it’s reflecting off the TV screen, can lower the picture quality. On the other hand, not enough light in the room can strain your eyes while watching TV. For the best picture, consider soft lighting that is not directly behind or in front of the TV while watching.

Should I adjust my TV picture settings?

Not always. Most new TVs come preset with standard brightness, contrast, color, tint and sharpness settings for the best picture. However, you can adjust and modify these settings to your own personal preferences.

For HD and especially 4K TVs, try cranking the contrast setting all the way up if it’s not already. This will maximize your TV’s display and make objects within an image much more discernible. It also improves the picture quality for fast-motion scenes.  

Another setting you might want to experiment with is sharpness. Increasing the sharpness setting artificially enhances edges by adjusting the color around edges to make them stand out more. The higher the sharpness, the more you’ll likely notice discoloration around edges. HD and 4K resolutions already give you an incredibly sharp image, so we recommend lowering your sharpness settings or turning them off completely.

Does the picture mode make a difference?

It can, mostly by adjusting the brightness and sharpness settings. Sports and “vivid” or “dynamic” settings typically increase brightness and sharpness, while cinema/movie settings will decrease them. Try switching between modes a few times over a variety of shows to find which setting gives you the best picture.

Some newer TVs will automatically adjust the settings depending on what type of program you are watching. You can manually override the TV mode, or trust your TV to instinctively give you the best picture.

5. Clean your TV screen

A dusty, smudgy screen will ruin the picture no matter how well you’ve set up your TV. Regular cleaning will ensure you get the crisp, vivid image you want every time you turn on the TV.

Smudges can happen when installing your TV. After that, smudges and oils shouldn’t be an issue because you won’t need to touch your screen. Dust, however, can accumulate over time and discolor your screen.

Tips for cleaning your TV screen:

  • Turn the TV off so you can better see dust and smudges.
  • Use a soft cloth, like something you’d clean eyewear with, to wipe the screen.
  • Avoid wiping the screen with paper towels, napkins, etc., because they may scratch the surface of the screen.
  • Use water (mixed with a little vinegar or dish soap if needed for cleaning smudges/oils) and avoid using chemicals such as ammonia, alcohol or bleach because they can cause discoloration.
  • Apply liquid to the cloth, then gently wipe the screen – don’t directly spray the screen with liquid as it can permeate the screen and damage the internal components.

We hope these simple steps help you get and maintain the best TV picture for your home. If you’re looking for the right TV service for that perfect picture, check out TV services in your area.