If Santa delivered a new HDTV to your home today, use this list to help get your HDTV up, running and looking good. Please read the owner’s manual before proceeding.

1) Get It Ready

If it is flat, (LCD or Plasma) the HDTV may need attachment to its table stand (if you’re not wall mounting it.). This requires two or more people. Remember; NEVER LAY A FLAT TV ON ITS FACE OR BACK. HOLD IT UP (vertical) BY HAVING IT SUPPORTED ON THE BOTTOM OF THE BEZEL THAT SURROUNDS THE SCREEN. TO KEEP THE SET VERTICAL HAVE SOMEONE HOLD IT UP TO KEEP IT FROM FALLING OVER UNTIL IT IS PROPERLY ATTACHED TO THE TABLE STAND. NEVER PLACE ANY PRESSURE ON THE SCREEN (SUCH AS YOU PALM) DON’T TOUCH THE SCREEN. IT DOESN’T TAKE MUCH PRESSURE TO CRACK IT! If the screen cracks, the HDTV is destroyed. Always lift by it by the bottom of the outside of the bezel; you may also steady it by grabbing the edges and sides of the bezel.

2) Make Sure Your New HDTV is Functional

This will save you a lot of aggravation. As soon as it is unpacked and supported (such as assembling the table stand and attaching the panel properly by consulting the owner’s manual), connect the power cord to wall AC and power it up. Put the batteries in the TV remote and hit the menu button. If you get an on-screen menu of any kind the HDTV is functional. If it stays black, it is probably dead. After verifying the on-screen menu, proceed to connect the TV to your signal sources.
Note: Many of today’s sets conform to Energy Star rules. If your set does, the first screen to appear will ask if you are using the HDTV in a home or (dealer) showroom. Select the “Home” mode for the best-looking image and lowest power consumption. This screen only comes up the first time you connect your new HDTV, selecting the Home mode will automatically place the user settings far closer to ideal than you can get in the showroom mode and save a lot on electrical consumption.

3) What You’ll Need to View Programs in High Definition

A) For over-the-air reception, you’ll need a TV antenna connected to the HDTV via the HDTV’s F type screw in connector. If there is no F type connector on the back of the set, you received an HDTV monitor, meaning there is no built-in digital tuner. You will need purchase a free standing HDTV tuner box to get the free over the air channels if it’s a tunerless HD monitor.
B) For HD Cable, You’ll need either a HD cable boxor a CableCARD (if your new HDTV has a slot know as a DCR or digital cable ready TV). You will have to order a CableCARD from your cable provider or you may connect the cable directed to the TV’s F connector to only receive the unencrypted HDTV cable channels (generally the broadcast network stations) provided your new HDTV has an unencrypted QAM tuner built-in (almost all new HDTVs do). Check the owner’s manual for inclusion and instructions on how to scan in the channels once connected.
C) For HD Satellite Reception, you will need an HD satellite box and the appropriate dish already installed (check with your satellite provider for more information)

4) To See HDTV, with a HD satellite box or HD cable box you must use either the component video connection cable (YPrPb) or an HDMI cable. Oh no, you don’t have either one of these cables. Here is a tip to get you up and running until you get one. Temporarily use an audio/video cable you may have lying around (it came with your VCR, DVD player or other video component). This cable is the one that has three RCA type connectors, a yellow one, a red one and a white one at each end. Connect the yellow one to the Y output jack on the source box and the other end to the HDTV’s component video Y input. Then connect the red one to the Pr output jack on the source box and the Pr input on the HDTV and finally connect the white one to the Pb jack on the HDTV and source box. Make sure all three are on the same numbered input on the HDTV (i.e. input 6, see owner’s manual for identification of the component video input on the HDTV) With the same numbered input selected on the HDTVs video input via the “input” button on the remote control, you will be able to see an HDTV image once you tune to an HD channel (the how to is in the owner’s manual). Not sure which channels are in HD? Use channel up on the remote, till you see a widescreen HD image (tip- make sure the HDTVs aspect ratio you selected is the “FULL” mode and the source box is in its 1080i output mode) You will need an audio cable too, in order transfer the audio from the source box to the display (unless you are using an HDMI cable and connection).

5) Once you have your HD image on the screen, change the user picture controls. (If the set did not have the home/showroom option mentioned above) manually get the set out of “Vivid” mode and into standard, movie or cinema (depending on the set). If you don’t have an input named “movie” the HDTV will have one of the others and either one will produce a more accurate image than Vivid. This function is usually under Menu button on the remote followed by picture mode setting. Next, use the remote control to turn down the contrast (aka picture) control . If the contrast is set too high, the light details will turn white and be obscured, such as wrinkles on a white shirt. Adjust the brightness control low enough to get the deepest black possible but do not bring it any lower, for it will bury the dark detail. This will require some experimentation by raising and lowering the control to you reach the ideal level. Adjust the color and tint control to produce the most natural, accurate skin tones.

Special instructions for new LCD HDTV set owners.

A) Many of the new LCD HDTV have a control that will be new to you. It’s called a “backlight” control. You will need to adjust the backlight control alternately with the contrast and brightness controls. The objects, for the set to produce the deepest level of black and natural (not overblown) whites and maintain dark detail.  Here’s how.

Alternately use the backlight adjustment with the brightness control. The object is to get the deepest black, yet still be able to see low level details such as a black suit against a dark background. You must alternate back and forth these to controls; every time you lower the backlight, you will make the blacks darker including dark details. Go back and forth until you see reach the level that the blacks are the deepest, while you still can see objects that are dark or black such as Batman’s costume against a dark sky. If set too dark, much of the costume will disappear into the background. Next, make sure the overall brightness of light colored objects such as a white shirt correct via the picture (also called contrast or white level control). The object is to have an overall adequately bright picture. If after raising the contrast control to 100% whites are gray and/or the overall brightness of the image is too dark, you will need to slightly raise the backlight control and readjust the contrast and brightness controls, because they may now need a little more tweaking. On many LCDs I have adjusted, the backlight control ends up at the low end of the range (around 0-20%) for the best image.

Remember, the object is to get the best light and dark detail in the image and the blackest blacks. This will provide the highest contrast ratio the set is capable of producing while maintaining fine detail in the light and dark parts of the image.

6) Sit back and enjoy the HDTV experience.

Have a Happy Holiday

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This article has been updated from its original publication in 2006

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