Q. I am in need for a new TV but have put off buying one because I loathe the ‘soap opera effect.’ Is there anyway to turn this off on new TVs? Is there a particular TV that truly turns off this feature? — Deborah, Los Angeles.
Deborah, first, for those unfamiliar with the ‘soap opera effect,’ it’s a term that describes your TV’s picture when it looks like the show was shot with a video camera rather than a traditional film camera.
The image is smooth and clear, but for many people, it’s too smooth and clear. Every scene looks like it came out of a soap opera, which explains the term.
If you’re trying to watch a deeply intense piece of cinema, it certainly can diminish the viewing experience.
Many new TVs come out of the box will the soap opera effect in place. It’s not that set manufacturers are hooked on The Bold & The Beautiful or The Young & The Restless. Instead, the feature is intended to reduce any picture blur that might occur during a quick movement on screen, such as a running back making a cut in a football game.
LCD TVs historically have had the most trouble with motion blur, but all sets can experience it. The set’s ‘motion smoothness’ feature can reduce it, if not outright eliminate it. But it also can create the soap opera effect.
If you want to kiss off the soap opera effect — and perhaps accept a occasional burst of blur — there is a relatively easy solution.
You can adjust your set’s motion smoothness feature in the TV’s Picture settings. Each manufacturer has a different name for it.
For example, LG calls it TruMotion; Vizio calls it Smooth Motion Effect; Sony calls it MotionFlow; and Vizio calls it Reduce Motion Blur, and so on. As you can see, Motion is the key word here so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the right setting in your specific TV.
Once you find the Motion Smoothness feature, simply turn it from On to Off.
Then, hit Exit and see what your picture looks like. If you prefer the new image, you’re all set. If not, you can go back into Settings and turn it back on. As I alluded to before, some people actually like the picture looking like it was filmed with a video camera. They say it adds realism.
Finally, as for your question regarding a TV that does not suffer from the soap opera effect, I can say that my two Panasonic Plasma TVs have never had an issue with SOE. Of course, sad to say, Panasonic is not making Plasma sets anymore so that’s not particularly helpful. Perhaps you can find a used Plasma on the open market.
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— Phillip Swann