The Best Image Isn’t Free

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May 6, 2013 by Marc Cunningham


TV calibration is confusing to many people, especially to those who are looking to purchase a new TV.

“Why don’t the televisions come calibrated?”

I could say that every television appears different in its environment, which is true enough however the answer is also economics.

When you purchase a television, from any retailer and any manufacturer, they come with two modes- Home and Store/Demo.

The Store/Demo mode is designed to make the screen as bright as possible in a store setting to attract your attention.

The Home mode offers pre-customized settings for “warm” or “cool”, but does not take the viewing environment of the television into account.

Merriam-Webster offers the following as a definition of “calibrate” : to measure precisely; especially : to measure against a standard.

A wikipedia search for “Video calibration software” lists the following as governing bodies for video standards:”Organizations such as the Society for Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), the Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage (CIE), the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have established standards for the proper transmission and display of video signals.”

“The Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) has promoted the value of good video reproduction and certifies candidates as ISF-trained calibrators in the techniques necessary to bring video displays in line with established broadcast, DVD, and Blu-ray standards.” (Wikipedia)

Sound & Vision magazine offers the best explanation as to why you should calibrate your TV, and provides the technical analysis of the process.

The truth is, televisions don’t come calibrated because it costs companies additional time and money to do so.

TV manufacturers, like any business, are in the business of making money and generating a profit.

Additionally, every TV is different, the panel and components varying in quality from model to model.

You can imagine the additional expense incurred when producing millions of these products every year. provides a DYI walkthrough if you want to calibrate your TV on the cheap, although an in-home ISF certified installer is recommended and prices start at $250.

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