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You Asked: how to turn off motion smoothing; Disney+ Atmos issues on Chromecast

In this installment of You Asked: When should you plug something into your soundbar instead of directly into your TV? How do you turn off motion smoothing on your folks’ TVs? What should you know when gifting a gaming console? And what happened to Disney+ on Chromecast with Google TV?

Motion smoothing quick guide

The settings menu on a Sony TV showing the Motionflow option.
Digital Trends

Korey writes: I’d love for you to provide a quick guide for turning off motion blur or soap opera effect at your parents’ house when you visit them for the holidays. I know TVs vary, but maybe a quick guide of where to look on the most common brands would be helpful.

Yes! For those of us who can’t stand motion smoothing, commonly known as the soap opera effect, a quick guide to turning it off is in order — even now, on the far side of the holidays. Before I proceed, just a quick note: Depending on how long your folks have been living with the motion smoothing on — and whether they like it or not — you may have to turn it back on before you leave. Just be prepared for that. Anyway, I think the best thing I can do is give you some broad guidance, and then, for a deeper dive, you can go watch this video I made a while back.

On most TVs, you click the menu or the little settings cog to get started. From there, if your TV pulls up a condensed menu – like the most commonly accessed settings — find a way to get to the full suite of menu settings.

Next, you’re going to want to get into the picture menu. From there, you may find an option for motion, or you will have to get into an advanced settings menu. But either way, now is the time to start looking for manufacturer-specific keywords, and here they are:

  • For Sony, you’re looking for Motionflow. (Cinemotion is made specifically for movies and rarely causes trouble.) Like most TVs, you can just turn it all off if you want. But you may also have the option to reduce sliders down to the low end of the spectrum so you can have a little de-judder and a little de-blur, but not so much that everything looks fake and flat. So keep that in mind as we explore the other TV brands.
  • On LG TVs, you’re looking for TruMotion. Same deal; you can turn off or use the sliders to get it down to 1 or 2.
  • What you’re looking for on Samsung TVs is Auto Motion Plus. I believe you get sliders there, too.
  • I believe it is called Motion Enhancement and Motion Clearness on TCL and Hisense Google TVs.
  • On TVs using the Roku TV platform (Toshiba, Element, Hisense, and TCL), you’re looking for Action Smoothing and Action Clarity.
  • Look for Clear Action on Vizio TVs.

As you can tell, the same general terms are used: Motion, Clarity, Smoothing. Find that stuff under the picture menu and turn it off, or set it at its lowest possible setting.

Gifting gaming consoles

Xbox Series X and a PS5 on the shelves of a media cabinet.
Digital Trends

Tom writes: I have normally been tech support for my less tech-savvy family over the years. The main issue was new gaming consoles. They would ask me to set up the internet connection and update them on Christmas Day, which I would advise anyone buying one to do beforehand. Another thing is most people don’t realize that you need a subscription for them nowadays. Xbox Live/PS Plus accounts need to be set up as well. I would say buy a voucher with the console and set these up beforehand, so you can log in and play on the day with no hassle. In one case, my brother only had one controller for the console Santa brought, but the other kids wanted to play Christmas Day. So maybe an extra controller would be handy. So there are some of my tips for any one of you if someone in your family is buying a new console for Christmas.

I agree. If you’re getting a game console for someone, it’s important to think about those subscriptions and controllers. I’m not saying you have to purchase them, but maybe coordinate with others to get those lined up. If I bought my nephew an Xbox, I’d probably tap my sister’s shoulder and suggest they cover an extra controller and an Xbox Live Gold subscription card. From there, manage expectations. Those updates can take a long time, especially if you have slow Wi-Fi. So as soon as that thing is opened, maybe get it plugged in and updating while the rest of the festivities are going so it will be ready to play sooner.

Soundbar HDMI ports

A man's hand inserting a cable into the HDMI ARC port on the back of a TV.
Digital Trends

Wanye N writes: I have a Sony UBP-X800M2 4K Blu-ray Player, a Samsung Q800c Soundbar, and Hisense U75H TV.  I noticed there is an extra HDMI port on the back of the soundbar. Would you recommend plugging the 4K player into that HDMI soundbar port, or just keep it plugged into the back of the TV?

The question about whether to plug something directly into a soundbar comes up a lot. I’ve given this a lot of thought.

There are only three reasons why you might want to plug something directly into a soundbar’s HDMI port rather than going straight into a TV.

  1. Your TV has more limited audio processing or passthrough abilities than your soundbar. So to get the best sound, you need to go into the soundbar directly.
  2. You’re out of HDMI inputs on your TV.
  3. The soundbar’s HDMI input is so much easier to reach than one on the back of the TV, and whatever you are plugging in is temporary — like if someone brought over their Nintendo Switch or you’re just hooking up a laptop to show off some photos or something.

The second and third reasons are pretty self-explanatory. But the first one might take some research or experimentation. Some TVs from four or five years ago (or older) might support Dolby Atmos from built-in apps, but won’t pass Dolby Atmos audio through the HDMI ports. In a case like that, you’d want to connect your device directly to your soundbar.

By and large, though, I think connecting devices to the TV and using the TV as the device switcher is the best move. It’s far more convenient than tuning into the HDMI arc port and switching the soundbar to output the video from its HDMI input. Also, depending on your soundbar, there could be video passthrough or support limitations. So, in such a case, you’d have to decide whether it was more important to get the best video fidelity or the best audio fidelity. Thankfully, not many of you out there will have to make that choice, but it could happen if the TV won’t pass the best audio signal through and your soundbar or receiver won’t pass the best video signal through.

The future of Chromecast with Google TV

Google Chromecast with Google TV displayed on a shelf.
Caleb Denison / Digital Trends

Roddy writes: My question is about Chromecast with Google TV (really Chromecast in general), Disney+, and Dolby Atmos. Long-story short, my whole house uses CCG TV. I have them going directly to (1) the Atmos soundbar and my (2) NR6100 Onkyo, as well as going to my (3) C1 and eARCed it to another 5.2.2 system. A few weeks ago, I lost Atmos for Disney+, but I have it for all the other apps — Vudu, Hulu, etc.

Are you seeing this same thing happen? If so, do you think this means CCG TV is coming to an end? I mean, it is pretty basic and hasn’t had an upgraded model ever. But I really like it. I read on Reddit that others were having the same problem, and Disney+ reps said they were not going to support Atmos on CCG TV. What are your thoughts on the future of CCG TV?

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I hadn’t heard this, but I’m all over it now! I don’t have official word from PR and marketing folks from Disney+ yet, but I am reaching out to them to get some official answers. Still, I have some helpful information to share on this topic.

First off, I went and grabbed my Chromecast with Google TV out of my backpack because, as y’all know, it’s my little travel buddy — never leave home without it — and I plugged it into the Sony A95L, which I have to say is a real inception situation, because it’s Google TV on a Google TV. And the Sony remote controls the Chromecast, so it’s easy to lose track of which is the Chromecast and which is the TV itself. I had to double-check a few times.

On a Chromecast running Google TV, I opened up Disney+ and pulled up a Marvel movie because almost all of them are in Atmos. And, sure enough, Dolby Atmos wasn’t listed. And if I play the title, the Samsung Q990C doesn’t tell me Atmos. That’s a bummer,  and so the issue is confirmed.

I double-checked this was not true for all of Disney+ using the built-in app on the Sony TV. When I opened up the same title, there was the Atmos.

So, it’s a Disney+ on the Chromecast with Google TV issue. Why? Well, you floated the idea that perhaps it’s because the Chromecast with Google TV is being put out to pasture — and I wouldn’t put it past Google to do that; it doesn’t have the best track record with video devices.

But I just don’t think that’s it. I think this is a technical issue between the Disney+ app and the Chromecast hardware itself. That’s because there’s a workaround that sidesteps the Chromecast as the recognized device, and it’s pretty simple. Grab your phone or tablet; if you don’t already have the Disney+ app, get it. Log in. Find the title you want, then cast it to the Chromecast. Annoying? Sure, but at least it isn’t impossible to get Atmos audio from Disney+ through your Chromecast with Google TV.

I do think Disney will fix this eventually. I was worried this might be part of a move toward implementing DTS, but the more I thought about that, the more I realized that ditching Dolby Atmos would be one of the dumbest moves ever. Also, that would happen all at once if it was going to happen, not just on one device.

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Caleb Denison
Digital Trends Editor at Large Caleb Denison is a sought-after writer, speaker, and television correspondent with unmatched…
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