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Every time I go to one of those warehouse stores, they have the row of TVs strategically placed so as to immediately attract your attention and make you feel like the set you have in your living room is woefully inadequate. And that’s the thing: Any TV looks great in the showroom. They know exactly how to tune those so they’ll stick out to you. Typically, stores turn the brightness and saturation all the way up in order to make things really pop off the screen.
The key question here is whether the TV looks just as good when you get it home. There are a variety of settings you might have to tweak once you get home. For instance, if you want a more accurate representation of color, you might want to turn the brightness down either by putting it in cinema mode or by doing a more manual adjustment. There are also frame rate settings you can often mess with to your heart’s content.
One of the most important things you can do to improve your TV viewing experience is something a little more fundamental: reducing glare. No one likes glare. We’ll go over what causes this problem and then cover a few ways to put glare in its place.
What Causes Glare On TV?
Flat-panel TVs typically have either liquid crystals or light-emitting diodes inside them. As opposed to the older TVs, newer flat panels feature screens that are glossy. At one point, the manufacturers put a matte finish on the TV in order to cut down on the gloss. However, they’ve now mostly stopped doing this in order to cut costs.
As a result of the glossy screen, any external light is often reflected back in the picture. This creates a less-than-desirable glare.
Reducing The Glare
Thankfully, there are things you can do to make it easier to see your television. The following are some steps you can take to mitigate glare issues.
Perfecting TV Placement
One of the biggest things you can do to cut down on glare is put your TV in the right place. You’ll want to make sure that any windows and natural light are behind the TV to avoid creating a reflection that can add to the glare effect.
If windows are unavoidable, you can try putting the TV on a wall mount with an arm that allows it to pivot and/or tilt. This way, you can swivel the TV as much as possible away from the window.
Blinds And Shades
Another way to deal with windows is to put up some blinds or shades and block out the light of the world when you want to watch TV.
As an optional, cool item, they sell motorized and solar-powered blinds and shades that can be voice-activated so you can live out your fantasies of having a supervillain lair.
Outdoor TV Placement
TVs that are meant to be outdoors present a unique challenge when it comes to lighting and reflection because the sun is a very bright light. As a result, reflection is a huge issue. That said, there are a few tricks you can employ.
If possible, avoid having the TV in direct sunlight. This will keep the electronics from getting too hot as well as cut down on glare. You might opt to put the TV in a cabinet which will protect it from the elements as well as provide shade from the sun to prevent reflection. These are available in various sizes and often come with a clear polycarbonate front shield so the TV is protected and you can still see the picture.
One other way to combat outdoor TV glare is to have a dark wall opposite the TV viewing area so that sun exposure is limited.
Control Your Lighting
All TVs look best in the darkest environment possible, so it’s a good idea to turn off all lighting sources if you really want the best viewing experience.
That said, there are plenty of good reasons for lights to be on. To begin with, it’s a safety issue. If you have to get up to use the restroom or make popcorn, you certainly don’t want to slip and fall.
Having some lights on could also lead to a more physically comfortable TV viewing experience. The reason for this is that you reduce eyestrain that results from having your TV be the only source of bright light in a dark room. Besides lighting there are other things you can do to keep eyestrain to a minimum, but we’ll get into TV settings later.
However, you can help glare by not having any lights where they could reflect off the TV. You want your lighting sources to be off to the side of or behind the TV.
Antiglare Screen Protector
Many companies make screen protectors that will protect your TV from fingerprints, scratches and the occasional thrown TV remote when your team gives up a touchdown. But if you get the right one, they can also cut down on glare even if your TV has a glossy finish.
It’s worth noting that there are also various matte screen protectors you can get for your phone, tablet or laptop. This is important because if you work with these devices outdoors and are constantly moving around, it could be one of the only ways to keep glare to a minimum.
Screen Settings To Reduce Glare
Beyond actual placement of the TV, lighting control and screen protection, you can look to the actual settings of your TV.
Some newer TVs (like this one from VIZIO) have ambient light sensors that work to measure the amount of external light present and adjust their settings accordingly.
If you find that your room will likely have bright light most of the time when you watch TV and there’s no good way of blocking it, one thing you can do is turn up the brightness settings. This will saturate the picture somewhat, but you’re fighting light with light. If there’s more light being put out of the TV, you’re less likely to see reflections. If you’re putting the TV outdoors, one of the best things you can do is get the brightest TV you can possibly get.
Of course, increasing the brightness can screw up your contrast ratio. So when possible, it’s better to watch your TV in a darker environment. As we alluded to earlier, watching TV in the dark can sometimes lead to eye discomfort. In order to cut down the potential for this, you can turn down the backlight control on your TV. This is probably found in your display menu. Doing this will prevent your TV from being a beacon of light as bright as the spell cast from Gandalf’s staff in “Lord of the Rings.”
Now that you’ve reduced the glare on your TV, feel free to go watch “The Office” for the fifth time in all its glory.
Do you have any tips to share that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.
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