Your TV Tech Fix: Warm Up to Your Color Temperature Dial

Believe it or not, that fancy big screen TV that you just brought home from Best Buy did not come from the factory preset to give you the best possible picture. That said, you can seriously improve both the accuracy and quality of your Television’s picture by making one adjustment that takes less than a minute.

Why aren’t TVs set to give an accurate picture? You see, TV manufacturers have to assume every set leaving the factory is going to wind up on display at your local electronics store, sitting next to dozens of other TVs under harsh fluorescent lighting. TVs set to give a perfectly accurate picture would look somewhat dim and muted, which doesn’t exactly grab attention on the sales floor.  So, out of the box settings for nearly all big screen televisions are typically intended to be ridiculously bright, loving referred to by those crazy videophiles as “torch mode.”

Over time we’ll cover many of the different controls your TV has and how to adjust them the right way, but for now we’re going to focus on one simple adjustment that can make a big difference: Color temperature.

If you bought your TV within the last seven years, it probably has an adjustment for color temperature in the video or advanced menu. Poke around and you’ll find it, and if you’re running the default “torch mode” settings, it’s probably set to something like “cool,” “high,” or “9300K.” If you want a long winded, technical explanation of what color temperature is this wikipedia entry ought to put you right to sleep, but to put cut to the chase, the color temperature of an accurate NTSC/ATSC TV should be right around 6500K.

Take a minute and and adjust your set’s color temperature control to “warm,” “low,” or “6500K” which is the setting closest to accurate on most TVs. 

Now, in all honesty you’re not going to like it… at first. If you’re used to the super-blue image from the cool setting it’s going to take you a little time to adjust. Force yourself to watch it this way for one full week. Once you get used to the richer image, you’ll eventually realize how bad it is to be cool.

Satisfy your inner geek while fueling your TV addiction… TV Tech Fix is a column by Matt Whitlock, editor of the Consumer Electronics Community (plus several other gadget-focused community websites), and lover of both technology and TV. In this column, he’ll cover a wide variety of tech topics aimed squarely at the TV addicts of the world – from tips and tricks to help you better your TV experience, to gear recommendations, to the impact technology is having on the TV shows we love.

For all the latest TV news and reviews

  • babygirrr

    I so love this! U have no idea how frustrating it is to try and figure out colors on these new tv's! The book didn't even explain it as well as this! Thanks!

  • Sara

    I am planning to buy a new TV this weekend so your tip is super helpful. Thanks so much TV Addict!