Q. The picture on my Sony TV seems a little dark, particularly during movies. Is there anything I can do about it? The TV looked a lot brighter when I saw it in the store. — Brian, Anaheim, California.
I touched on this in our TV Answer Man feature, ‘How Stores Trick You Into Buying a TV.‘ I wrote that retailers sometimes purposely tune the sets (all sets, not just Sony sets) on the show floor to look brighter to attract the attention of shoppers. However, as I noted in that article, brighter is not always better; you can lose picture details and color if you turn up the brightness too much.
I’ve received some comments expressing skepticism that stores would do this (including one from a retailer), which is why I can address this question again. Doing some research to answer your question, I came across this quote from Sony’s support page:
“When a TV is in a store they are set up for Shop Front display settings which are very bright and vivid.”
So if Sony acknowledges the practice on a public web site, well, I would think that’s all the evidence you would need.
Sony goes on to offer several tips if your set’s picture appears too dark and here they are: (Note: These tips can work for any brand TV.)
1. If Picture mode is set to Cinema or Custom, the screen may become dark. If the screen is still dark after the picture quality mode is changed, change the setting Backlight, Picture, Brightness and adjust the brightness to your taste.
2. If Power Saving is set to Low or High, the screen becomes dark. Example of setting method: Select Settings – System Settings – Eco and set Power Saving to Normal, and then check whether the problem is resolved.
3. Some TVs have a Light Sensor; the picture will become brighter or lower depending on room lighting conditions. Turning off the Automatic Brightness Control may increase picture brightness.
4. View programming from a different source, such as a DVD player or VCR, to see if the issue is being caused by the device providing the signal to the TV.
5. If it is a projection TV, consider replacing the lamp. Sony notes that for projection TVs, a dim or dark picture may be an indication that the lamp needs to be replaced. Refer to the owner’s manual for more information about replacing the lamp.
One last tip: Unplug the AC power cord for 30 seconds to reset the television.
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann