You would like to view the big games from the comfort of your home with the best picture and sound set-up possible. Well, now is the time to buy a new 3D TV and surround sound system. Even if you cannot afford it, and for that matter even if you can, you will find a couple of things you can do to make sure you will obtain the best performance from any TV & surround sound system. Ian Brice from Booth Electrical, one of the leading tv shops in Aberdeen takes us through the technological minefield involved in setting up a home cinema system to get the best results without breaking the bank.
1. Postioning your TV
Your TV is probably sat where it is because that's where the closest aerial socket is. A television of some sort has probably been sat there since the late '60's. So, you're probably watching Television where you are because some bloke decided that is where he wanted it 50 years ago. Which isn't neccessarily the best location for it. The most effective position is one where you are most comfortable watching it – probably at eye level when seated, and where the lighting conditions are optimal. For instance, you don't want direct sunlight or even just reflected sunlight onto your screen. In the day time it will affect your viewing. Now, in the old days when your TV was the size of a small car, it was a wise idea to sit it in the corner. But now a flat screen may be positioned almost any place. So, if that means moving the aerial point or power socket then have the proverbial 'man' in, to have a look at it.
2. Your Television picture.
Most Televisions are set up by default with everything boosted to appear brighter and more colourful. This will be because whenever you go to look in the shop for a new Television it will appear like it's giving a better picture than the one next to it. We're drawn to bright vivid colours. However, this isn't neccessarily the best and most realistic setting. Of course, professional calibration is going to cost equipment and cash. But you can make some adjustments yourself to improve your viewing enjoyment.
a) Adjust the brightness and contrast in making the blacks blacker and the whites whiter.
b) Adjust the colour. Unless you're watching Katie Price and Alex Reid, not everyone in the media is orange.
c) Adjust the picture sharpness. Make the image as clear and crisp as possible. You'll know when you've gone too far because borders and double edges will start to appear around the images. If you need to tweak it some more, then I would suggest purchasing Digital Video Essentials on DVD or Blu Ray. It is mostly a step-by-step guide to calibrate your LCD or plasma picture settings. Probably for the uber geek, but it is still entirely possible to pick the DVD up for around £12.
The purchase price of cable for AV setups is really a joke. A good HDMI cable can cost £100. Crazy talk. But do they work? Well, I'm sorry to let you know, yes they do. An outstanding cable can dramatically increase the performance of your Television and audio system. I wish it wasn't true but I actually performed this experiment myself last week. I had an old scart lead connecting my TV and DVD player. I knew that it was not all that good, but I could just about live with it (I am a little short sighted anyway). But, when I found myself in a well known high street electronics store, I thought I'd buy a fancy cable and see how just how much the picture really improved.
Don't believe the hype I thought. I will take the lead back at those prices if I do not get a decent result. However, after plugging it in, it was like someone had switched the lights on. An incredible, crisp, bright picture appeared before me. Damn I thought – that has cost me!
A tip though. I do have an extremely nice 1080p Full HD LCD. There will not be any point spending countless pounds on top quality cables if you have a cheap, rubbish Television you bought from ASDA for next to nothing with 2 cut price DVDs. It isn't a magic wand.
Now we turn to sound. If you haven't got a surround sound system, you're not going to get that rich, deep, sound and the atmosphere of the stadium. So, you really should consider purchasing one. And I'm afraid yes, you usually get what you pay for. But even a £150 system will be better than your TV. And if space is an issue have a look at purchasing all-in-one speaker bars. They provide surround sound from a single box by bouncing the sound off the walls.
With traditional surround sound, the position of your speakers is key. You'll get the best sound by placing the centre speaker directly above or below your TV. Left and right speakers should go either side of the TV. The rear left and right speakers should go either side of the sofa at ear height. If you're not allowed to leave them there (like me, the wife won't have it), just make sure you can move them when the big match starts. You can put your subwoofer anywhere you like, as it provides bass frequencies that are non-directional.
5. High Definition – are you really watching it?
Just because you've an HD ready or Full HD TV doesn't mean that you're automatically going to be watching TV in high definition. You'll need to add a high-def source. Some of the more common providers are currently Sky HD, Virgin or Freesat. And that means you will want to either upgrade your package. Or in the case of Freeview, by an HD decoder. Remember only certain channels are broadcast in HD and you'll will want to be tuned in to watch them.
That should about cover it. Follow this advice and watch the world cup at high quality in the comfort of your own home. While you might not get the atmosphere of the pub, at least you can guarantee a seat..