One of the big myths of HDTV is that your new set will arrive from the factory with all the image adjustments at their optimal points. In general, this is not the case. And you can get in big trouble if you set about trying to adjust them on the fly, trying to judge “what looks good” as you go. You can end up with awful image quality, and because the different settings interact with each other, it can be extremely difficult to unwind your changes and get back to a good configuration.
You can hire a certified calibration technician to make the adjustments for you, but this can be an expensive proposition, and is typically used for home theater installations that are well into the five figure price range. There are a number of products intended for the do-it-yourself market, and one offers you the chance to do some good at the same time that you make your HDTV look good.
Monster Cable has partnered with the ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) to create the Monster/ISF HDTV Calibration Wizard DVD. (Note that they have “HDTV” in the product name, but there’s nothing inherently HD about the it, as it comes on a standard DVD and thus does not create HD images.) The DVD gives you step by step instructions on how to adjust the contrast, brightness, and color accuracy. There is no extra hardware involved, so the results will only be as accurate as your observations and adjustments, but you’re still likely to get a better image as a result. It only costs $30, so you’re not risking a lot of money in the process.
And as an added incentive, Monster and ISF will donate $10 from every Calibration Wizard DVD sale to the Elf Foundation’s “Room of Magic” program, which builds custom theaters in children’s hospitals and other treatment centers. So your HDTV will look good, you’ll look good, Monster and ISF will look good, and a bunch of kids with health problems will enjoy some distracting entertainment. Sounds like a good deal.