TV Answer Man, why does a TV always look better in the store than when I bring it home? Is there something I am doing wrong with the settings? How can I get it to look like it did before? — Tony, Madison, Wisconsin.
Why TVs Look Better In the Store
Tony, many retail stores purposely tune some sets on the floor to look as bright as possible to get your attention. (I won’t say every store does this, but the number is significantly high. Just do a random visit to a few; you’ll soon see what I mean.) It’s easy to do. Just raise the Brightness level of the set and set the picture mode to Vivid. At a glance, the TV’s picture will then look so bright and sharp that you will want to grab it and bring it home.
But here’s the problem: If you look at the in-store set more than a minute or so, you will start to notice that the detail is a little fuzzy. That’s what happens when you turn up the Brightness level too high. (Some argue that the Vivid setting can also reduce detail.) You may also notice that excessive brightness starts to wear on your eyes, making them tired or worse. It’s like staring at a bright lamp. At first, you appreciate the added light that the lamp provides, but stare too long and you start to see spots before your eyes.
Retailers understand this, of course, but they have concluded that the Brightness/Vivid trick works quite well. Few consumers spend more than a few minutes looking at the in-store set. If they are in the buying mood — and they are attracted to the picture — they will go to the salesman to make a deal.
So what can you do to avoid this little tomfoolery?
Do your research before you go to the store. Check out some solid TV review sites, such as CNET.com, and find out what they say about a particular set you might be interested in. If CNET or Consumer Reports (or another reputable site) gives the set the thumbs-up, then go to the store.
Then, when you go to the store, don’t be swayed by how the set’s picture looks. Just keep in mind what the reviewers said and keep your eye on the set’s price. Make sure you get a good deal.
Tony, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than three decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television. See the bio for Phillip Swann here.