TV's Answer Man
Did My TV Look Better In The Store?
Washington, D.C. (January 23, 2013) --
Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your
questions regarding how to best use the latest products and
services in TV technology.
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Q. I went shopping
for a TV the other day and was amazed at how bright some sets
looked in the store. The picture just seemed to jump out of the
set. Why doesn't my set look like that in my living room? =-
Robert, Richmond, Virginia.
Robert, it could look like
that in your living room, but I'm not so sure you want it to.
Let me explain.
Retail stores purposely tune some sets on the floor to look as
bright as possible to get your attention. It's easy to do. Just
raise the Brightness level of the set and set the picture mode
to Vivid. (See our
TV Answer Man feature
on Picture Modes.) At a glance, the TV's picture will then look
so bright and sharp that you will want to grab it and bring it
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. Again, see our feature on
for more on that.)
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. (See
Top 10 Selling HDTVs)
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.
(Some retailers are even crafty enough to raise the Brightness
level only on the sets that produce the highest profit margin; have
you ever noticed that some sets in the store look more bright
than others? It's rarely a coincidence.)
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.
Of course, you could just buy the TV online and not worry about
the salesman trying to sell you how Bright the set looks -- or
an extended warranty, for that matter. But that's your call.
Top 10 Selling HDTVs