Q. Since we got our new TV, we have noticed that the picture seems more dark than our old TV. It’s hard to see some details in the picture because it’s so dark. Is there something we should do to change the settings to make it brighter? — Cal, Hermosa Beach, California. 

Cal, this is not an uncommon complaint among owners of new televisions. Retailers often increase the brightness on showroom sets as a ploy to get you to buy. But it doesn’t actually improve the picture; it just makes it brighter to get your attention as you walk by in the store. (To find out why increasing the brightness doesn’t actually improve your picture, read this article.)

Then when you buy your TV and bring it home, you wonder why it doesn’t look as bright as it did in the store. Of course, it shouldn’t look that bright (Again, see our article.) But you don’t know that unless you’re familiar with picture calibration. You just know that it doesn’t look like it did in the store.

But don’t despair if your TV’s picture seems too dark. Here are seven tips on how to improve your set’s picture without making it too bright.

1. If the set’s Picture mode is set to Cinema or Custom, the screen may become dark. You can try setting it to Standard or Vivid, although the latter may make the picture a bit too bright for some.

2. If the screen is still dark after the picture quality mode is changed, you can also manually change the Brightness setting. Go into the Brightness setting and turn the Brightness number up until the picture seems better to you. Again, be careful that you don’t make it too bright or else you will begin losing picture detail.

3. If the TV’s Power Saving setting is set to Low or High, the picture could become dark. Go to your Power Saving setting and turn it to Normal.

4. Some TVs have a Light Sensor; the picture will become brighter or lower depending on room lighting conditions. If you turn off the Light Sensor’s Automatic Brightness Control, it may increase picture brightness.

5. View programming from a different source, such as a Blu-ray player, to see if the issue is being caused by the device providing the signal to the TV.

6. Check if the picture seems dark on each HDMI port. To determine this, simply connect your main video source (streaming player, cable box, etc.) to different HDMI ports in the TV. You might find one HDMI port is displaying a darker picture than another.

7. If you have a projection TV, consider replacing the lamp. A dim or dark picture may be an indication that it’s time to buy a new one.

Cal, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann