Factory settings on TVs are almost always tweaked to maximum brightness and contrast and are enabled with image “edge enhancement” features as well. Manufacturers do this so that the TV picture will “pop” on the retail store floor compared to other models. However, this is not how the director of the programming you are viewing intended for you to see the film, or sports or sitcom that you see. It’s not natural to the eye and a lot of the “enhancement” settings on a plasma or LCD TV these days are just the opposite of that. Setting the proper color, brightness, and and operating levels on an LCD TV can make a huge difference in your viewing pleasure.
If you’re interested in getting the best possible picture from your flat panel or rear projection TV–or even a CRT tube TV–you can’t assume that it comes straight out of the box with it’s picture adjustments set properly. The next time you’re in one of the “discount” home electronics stores, step back and take a look at the array of plasma, LCD, and projections TVs. Notice how they all look different? Since they’re all displaying the same signal, shouldn’t they all look the same?
The fact is, each manufacturer has a different idea about what “looks best,” and they usually adjust their sets to show off their particular strengths–and hide their weaknesses. Also, pay attention to the lighting of the showroom itself: does your living room look like that when you watch movies, or even sports on TV? The pictures on the display floor may be “punchy” and bright, but the detail and resolution that gets washed out really takes away from your home theater experience. What’s more, running a TV at these settings can even be damaging to the display technology, overloading pixel cells and projection lamps alike long before their time.