There’s more to setting up a TV than just plugging it in and turning it on. You need to get the right accessories and make the right tweaks to enjoy your new TV to its full potential. In this guide we’ll go through everything you need to set up your TV -- from HDMI cables to picture settings -- just the way you want it.
The first thing to ask yourself is: Where is your TV going to go? If you’re wall mounting your TV, a cable and power management kit is a great way to make that install look clean. It helps you route your cables and power from near the floor, up through the wall to where your TV is mounted.
If you are setting your TV on a stand, we recommend securing it so it doesn’t tip over by accident. Whether it is a stray pillow hitting the TV or, worse, an earthquake, having a security strap is good protection against unknowns. There are many security straps available to help you do this.
Finally, if you don’t already have one, we recommend a surge protector or power strip to plug all your expensive electronics into. These not only let you plug everything into one place, but will protect your electronics from electrical spikes and surges.
Next, what are you hooking up to your TV? Do you already have a cable box, antenna, gaming console, Blu-ray or UltraHD Blu-ray player? What about a streaming box or stick? You’ll want to gather up all the sources you plan on connecting to the TV and see what types of cables they require. This way you only have to make one trip to the store for supplies.
Always use HDMI cables whenever possible. It provides the highest quality picture and sound. For newer 4K Ultra HD sources like an Ultra HD Blu-ray player or a 4K streaming set-top box, make sure you have HDMI cables rated to handle 4K bandwidth. The packaging, the cable itself, or the product description will typically tell you if the HDMI cable is "fast" enough.
Thin HDMI cables are much easier to route to components, and they minimize clutter, so it might be worth getting new HDMI cables just to save space. However, do not spend too much on HDMI cables! A six-foot HDMI cable should go for $8 to $12 – anything more is overpriced and won’t provide any performance benefit. Older components like a Nintendo Wii will use analog RCA cables, so keep that in mind when you catalog which cables you will need.
If you want big sound to go with the big picture of your new TV, it’s certainly worth considering adding something like a sound bar, sound base, or even a home theater speaker system. No matter what you choose, it will upgrade the sound of your TV. Movies will be more fun to watch, and dialog will be much clearer and easier to hear. Remember, when connecting any speakers use HDMI cables if the speaker system will take it. If not, an optical cable will still deliver quality sound.
Finally, once your TV is hooked up and powered on, you want to check the settings. There are many guides available to help you achieve the best picture quality, but these essential changes will help you enjoy your TV right away.
First, go into the part of the TV’s menu which lets you choose the picture mode. For the most accurate picture select the Movie or Cinema preset. Some TVs have separate options for bright and dark rooms. Adjust the backlight and brightness settings will also make the picture brighter. The Vivid and Sports modes are very bright, but the colors aren’t very accurate and the intense picture can wear on you in time. If you want the right balance between vividness and accuracy, the standard setting is the way to go.
Another key setting to adjust is motion smoothing, we recommend you turn this off. If you don’t, you’ll see image processing that makes the shows and movies you watch look like a soap opera. This is the number one complaint new TV buyers have and it is an easy fix.
Before you start setting up your TV, remember to plan ahead. Making a list and gathering everything together will streamline your installation process once you have started. Having a friend around is always a great idea too, especially for unboxing and placing or wall mounting the TV.