How To Get the Best Out of Your Smart TV From Setup to Settings

Out of the box, your brand new smart TV won’t be set up perfectly for you and your living room. If you want to make the most of your entertainment investment, here’s what you need to do.

Sign into everything

Your first step should be to sign into every streaming service and app you could conceivably want to use. Netflix, HBO Max, YouTube TV, Hulu and even file-sharing apps like Google Drive or Dropbox.

While the process of signing into all these different smart TV apps takes some time, by gathering all your passwords and login details, and setting aside half an hour to do it at the start, you won’t be caught short the first time you go to watch a movie on a different service.

Sort out the settings

Most smart TVs are set up so as to look super colorful and eye-catching in the store. Unfortunately, this means the screen display can look garish and unrealistic at home. To get the most accurate and best smart TV setup possible, dive into the settings and change:

  • Picture Mode to Movie, Cinema, Calibrated or other similar option. It will make the colors and contrast levels as close to what the director intended as possible. Absolutely avoid anything called Vivid, Dynamic, Display or Store.
  • Color Temperature to Warm. This controls how blue or yellow the whites appear on your TV. For a more realistic look, you want them to be as far toward the yellow end of the spectrum as possible.
  • Motion Smoothing to Off. This is the feature that makes things look unrealistically smooth. While it can work for live sports, it makes movies and TV shows look like soap operas.
  • Local Dimming to On. This increases contrast and makes blacks look blacker.
  • Game Mode to On, if you game on your smart TV. It reduces the input lag, so when you push a button, the action happens onscreen as soon as possible.
  • Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) to Off. This is a feature that snoops on what you watch, so TV companies can sell your data.

At this stage, take a look through all the other customization settings and change them to how you like. You should be able to set a custom screensaver, control how the home screen appears and remove any apps you don’t use.

If you have the budget and intensely care about picture quality, you can also get your TV professionally calibrated, though it really isn’t necessary. Just changing the settings above will get you 95% of what professional calibration would, without your having to spend a few hundred dollars. You really can get the best smart TV settings yourself at home.

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Supercharge the sound

Modern smart TVs have the most incredible picture quality—and utterly mediocre sound quality. TV designers are just caught in a bind: The thinner and more attractive a TV looks, the less space there is for high-quality speakers. This means that great-looking, wall-mounted modern TVs have weak and tinny speakers.

There is a fix though: Invest in a soundbar. These smart speakers connect to your TV and supercharge its sound output (as well as help turn your living room into a smart living room). A good soundbar will make dialogue sound clearer, explosions sound boomier and can even imitate surround sound systems.

Some favorite soundbars, the Sonos Arc, Beam and Ray, also connect with your home sound system, so you can stream music when you aren’t watching your TV. If you want even more bass, you can also add a subwoofer.

Spice up your lights

You know what else complements a smart TV? Smart lights like the Philips Hue. Not only does adding smart lights to your living room allow you to dim them with a voice command as soon as you start to watch a movie, but the lightstrips can sync with your TV, so your entire living room reacts to what’s happening on screen.

Speed up your connection

To make the most of your smart TV’s great picture quality, you need to make sure it’s getting high-quality media. If you have a slow internet connection and are streaming low-resolution movies from Netflix, nothing is going to look good.

There are two main things you can do:

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Product features may have changed and are subject to change.

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