Circuit City Will Access A Secret Panel In Your TV For $104.74

I bought a new 46″ Sony Bravia TV in January of this year from Circuit City in the Sugarhouse area of Salt Lake City (Store#3350 801-463-4600). Being a pretty technical guy, I tweaked the brightness, contrast, color temperature and other settings to my content. The picture looks great, but I was told from friends that it’s good to have the TV calibrated from a professional as they have access to a service panel that your normal everyday consumer can’t get to. They’re supposed to tweak the settings according to ambient light in the room, and an end result is they also reduce power consumption making the TV last longer.

So I went back to Circuit City on January 28 and asked about calibration. I specifically said “are you going to do more than just tweak the brightness and contrast settings? I heard that you have access to a panel that I can’t get to” The guy in the TV department said “yes, they’ll tweak settings that you don’t have access to, and they’ll use a DVD to help calibrate the TV.” So I said great, sign me up. I paid $104.74 and he told me Firedog would call to set up a time to come to my house. The technician came to my house that week. I was surprised that he only walked in with a clipboard. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I waited to see what he was going to do. He picked up the remote and tweaked the brightness and contrast settings. About 5 minutes later he was done. I said “wait, is that all you’re going to do?” He said he can use his eyes to calibrate the TV and my picture looked fine. So I told him the story about my conversation with the sales guy at CC and he said they only use the DVD if the picture doesn’t look right. So I tell the technician to make note of my disappointment on my records and that I would be calling for a refund. He sympathized and said no problem.

I waited a few days to call as I wanted to make sure that the technician had time to notate the experience. I called the Sugarhouse location and spoke to someone in the TV department about my experience. He said he had to research it with Firedog and he would call me within 2 days. I never heard from him so I called back about 2 weeks later and that same employee wasn’t available. Sugarhouse is a little bit of a drive for me, so after a couple more weeks, I drove back out to the store location and spoke to Jared, a manager, about the problem. He tried for about 5 minutes to figure out the problem and ended up saying he would have to call me back. I told him about the last time someone at Circuit City said they would call me back, and he said he would absolutely call me back within about a day.

Here it is 5 days later with no call from Jared or anyone at Circuit City so I call back to speak to Jared or another manager. I’m told that they are both busy and one of them will call me back. Again, I reminded the employee about my experiences being called back and he said he’d deliver the note “right now.”

So now, 2 days later, I still haven’t had anyone call me back, and all I want is my $104.74 refunded. It’s very clear why Circuit City stock is in the tank and Best Buy’s stock is up. I guess I have to drive back up to Salt Lake City again this weekend and be very loud about my problem.
Brandon

Well, good news Brandon. Professional calibration does exist, but it isn’t what Circuit City sold you. We’re actually not sure what Circuit City sold you. If you bought the service with a credit card, feel free to do a chargeback.

If you’re actually looking to get your TV professionally calibrated (whether you should or not is another debate for another blog) you should look for a technician in your area who has sophisticated color sensing equipment. It’ll probably cost you a few hundred bucks to have the tech over to your house, but he or she will do more than look at your TV and mess with the contrast. After it’s all over, they should be able to give you a print out that shows what they did to your TV.

You can also buy a DVD that will help you do it yourself for about $30. Personally, if our picture already looked great we’d save ourselves the money and just tell our friends “Oh, yeah we had that done. Totally.”

As for prolonging the life of your TV, ESPN said this about calibration in 2004:

TV sets are usually calibrated in the factory to look good on a showroom floor. In order to stand out on a showroom floor the most important factor is a bright picture. In a bright store setting, TVs are competing with both the ambient light in the room and all of the other TVs on display. The best way to draw attention to a TV is by having a bright picture.

When you take your TV home though, you are not competing with other TVs (unless you have a really cool TV room) and you can control the ambient light. If you are installing your TV in a home theater setting you will probably find it blaringly bright. And, when dealing with Plasma and Rear Projection TV’s, these settings can reduce the life of the set and increase the risk of “burn in.”

In short, turn the brightness down, buddy.

Calibrating your TV [ESPN]
ISF Calibration
ISFForum

(Photo:garavondik)

Comments

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  1. apotheosis says:

    In related news, I used my eyes to visually calibrate your website, and will be billing you for this invaluable service.

    You’re welcome.

  2. You mean you are going to do your good duty as a nuisance customer and just go away?

    No seriously, in the immortal vocab of this site: chargeback. I’m not sure what exactly you talked to the first salesperson about doing for service, but I’m guessing thet did not fulfill their side of the agreement. Use that against them.

  3. Toof_75_75 says:

    I do hope he gets his money back, but I agree with Meg. If you are that worried about what your friends say, just pretend you had it done. As the old adage goes, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”

  4. digitalhen says:

    you’re a sucker for paying the $100 in the first place

  5. jaydez says:

    Most Pixar Films and TXT certifed films have a TV callibration tool in the special features. One movie that I know has it is Monsters, Inc. I use that movie to set up all my TVs.

  6. SaveMeJeebus says:

    $100 to futz around with a TV remote? Why am I not a Firedog tech?

  7. SarcasticDwarf says:

    I always laugh a little at stories about tv calibration. Being mostly colorblind (is that like mostly harmless?) I always find it rather amusing.

  8. There’s this weird phenomenon I’ve noticed around HDTVs. People don’t want to buy what looks good to them, they want other people to come in and tell them which TV looks the “best” and set it up the “best” way.

    Paying for TV color calibration is completely idiotic unless you’re some sort of professional who creates or distributes content over TVs. Just go through the settings on your TV and fiddle a little bit until it looks good to you. If you want to go a step further get the Avia (or comparable) calibration DVD/HD-DVD/Blu-ray which will help you adjust the TV for around $30. You can also recalibrate your TV as it gets older. I think it’s funny that people will pay hundreds to get their TV calibrated when it’s brand new and then they never calibrate it again. What’s the point?

  9. B says:

    Eliott Spitzer says $100 for access to a secret panel is quite the bargain.

  10. arch05 says:

    I hate it when managers say they’ll “call you back”. You can be sure they’re thinking “I don’t care”.

  11. jmuskratt says:

    Be aware that to calibrate an HDTV, you need more than a DVD and its 480p resolution. If you have an HD-DVD or Blu-Ray, I presume there are 720p/1080i/1080p reference discs for those.

    As for the “service panel,” it’s accessed by a code on the remote. Google your model and “service panel” and you can see how to get to it. Note, if you screw it up (which may be hard or easy depending on your tech savvy), you could brick your TV.

    If you’re going to pay money to calibrate your TV, hire a pro that will stand behind their work. AVSForum is a good place to find referrals.

  12. strife1012 says:

    The Circuit City Protection Package includes a DVD on how to calibrate your TV by yourself. Works Pretty well too.

  13. ? graffiksguru says:

    @jaydez: whats txt certified? do you mea thx certified? because i have a bunch of those and it’d be cool if i could calibrate my tv with them

  14. armour says:

    [spyder.datacolor.com] you can get this and do it your self when every you feel like it. It dose a good job I first came across it after I used the version for monitor calbration.

  15. GenXCub says:

    @digitalhen:

    Good job blaming the consumer. And on the fourth comment in, it’s getting earlier and earlier every post that the consumer is blamed for the shoddy service.

    He ASKED them if they performed something that he was told about, he tried to verify that this was something he could not do himself. This wasn’t an uninformed person. Good job doing the exact opposite of what this website is for. Congrats.

  16. armour says:

    [spyder.datacolor.com] you can use this and calbrate your TV any time you want and they are not that expensive I paid $180 for mine and set it up in no time.

  17. good thing circuit city requires their firedog technicians be certified in brightness/contrast calibration via remote control on a wide variety of LCD & plasma tv’s. otherwise we’d be completely doomed

  18. kimsama says:

    I hope he gets his money back, too. However, I’ve noticed a trend of OPs saying that they didn’t “get around” to asking for a refund for a defective product/service until several weeks after it happened.

    In my experience, stores take you more seriously when you follow up in a timely manner, instead of waiting around for several weeks. Last time I paid for something I thought I got ripped off for, I was on the phone 3 days in a row until I had it fixed (and I got a credit, to boot!). When someone waits 5 weeks to complain about something they knew was terrible the minute it happened, the manager/corporate probably won’t take them as seriously anymore.

  19. kimsama says:

    @kimsama: P.S. not blaming the consumer, just adding my two cents on how to get a better response to the complaint — complain sooner rather than later, and don’t depend on a poorly-qualified Firedog rep to log your complaint for you.

  20. upokyin says:

    The headline is kind of misleading, as the technician didn’t bother with any secret panels at all.

  21. nerdyone says:

    It’s not about getting a good picture, it’s about getting an accurate picture. ISF calibration measures the color accuracy accross a gamut of brightness levels and they have equipment that measures the accuracy.

    The reason you want an accurate picture is to see what the director/movie studio intended you to see. They spend millions of dollars to create a look for their movies and it is a real shame that our sets can’t display what they intended.

    When my friends scoff at this, I ask them if they would change the color of a famous painting to go along with the decour of the room they intend to hang it in. They usually get it then.

  22. chemmy says:

    If it wasn’t broken, why fix it?

  23. lonewolf333 says:

    Wow a sucker is born every minute.

  24. axiomatic says:

    I’m suprised no one has mentioned this yet. What this guy was looking for is: ISF Calibration [www.isfcalibration.com]

    These guys are well worth the money if you are a video purist and have a high tech HDTV.

    If you just have the average run of the mill HDTV then ISF calibration is a little overboard.

    Admittedly ISF calibration is more needed for DLP rear projection units and DLP front projection units. Plasma and LCD have far less customization from the “service menus” (hidden menus on the HDTV) than a DLP or even older 3gun HDTV’s.

    So what this guy was looking for DOES exist, just not from the idiots from Circuit City or Best Buy.

  25. IssaGoodDay says:

    @arch05:

    Not always…. the managers I work with *ALWAYS* call back the customers they have promised to do so. Work in retail for a bit – we’re not all heartless jerks who are trying to all your money from you. Some of us just like helping people and playing with the stuff without having to pay for it (in-store I mean… I heartily oppose theft)

  26. wellfleet says:

    BB uses about $20,000 worth of equipment to calibrate at the correct temps and for viewing in bright and dark conditions. It does extend the life of the TV and makes your picture look much more natural and not as overwhelmingly bright. The techs get ISF certified before they’re allowed to perform the services. It’s $300.

  27. Tank says:

    @B: Yeah he does, and the “panel” he accessed probably wasn’t worth a Franklin either. A couple cocktails maybe…

  28. StevieD says:

    The service panel is not a physical location, rather it is an internal electronic setings, much like the BIOS in a computer motherboard.

    The calibrations in the hidden service panel are coarse system wide, like changing the operating voltage of the appliance or changing the default values of user calibrations.

  29. Most TVs do have a special code specifically for technicians to access menus that are not accessible otherwise.
    If you have a high end projector, and hire an ISF technician, he is probably going to bring at least eight thousand dollars worth of equipment to do a proper calibration, and if he is ISF certified, he will make the picture look insane.
    However, with a DVD like Video Essentials, and a trained eye, you can accomplish about 80 percent of what an ISF technician will, all this while not going through hidden menus. Of course some TVs don’t give users as many options as others.

    These hidden menus are not user friendly, and you can screw up the picture pretty bad if you don’t know what you are doing. They let you adjust things like Gamma and many things that are much more complex than simple brightness and contrast.

  30. mewyn dyner says:

    Yah, a genuine calibration of any TV cannot be done just by looking at any old picture. Going off “flesh tones” and making them “look right” that way will screw with the image horribly. The best things a consumer can do for self-service is to get the Avia DVD and follow its instructions. That will get you a pretty darn good image. If you want something further, find a reputable home theater installer and have them take a look at the setup.

    Usually the non-user settings are done through the remote, in a secret menu, not a panel. Plus, I’ve never heard of any special settings that his friends mention. (Note, I do not professionally calibrate TVs, but my father does.)

    Also, I’d like to ask, what’s the type of TV (plasma, LCD, DLP, LCoS, tube?) and what were the brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, and (especially) sharpness settings the “tech” left it at?

  31. ganzhimself says:

    @suburbancowboy:

    I made the mistake of doing this on my CRT HDTV and boy, did it take me a long time to recalibrate the settings were that I messed up. I did have the service manual and all the service codes, but there was no way to just reset to the factory settings… Once you go into the service menu, you’re asking for trouble. I went and got an AVIA DVD, which really helped get the picture back in shape. After fixing it, I never, ever touched the service menu again.

  32. mewyn dyner says:

    @Canadian Impostor:

    People pay for the calibrations and the like to get accurate color representation, not to “make it look good to them.”

    In any high end setup, you are not looking for what abstractly looks good to one person, you want to make the picture and audio be as accurate to the original signal as possible, and to do that you need calibration, as the human eye, on it’s own with a random image, is just too variable. Plus, most people don’t understand what the settings are used for. I’ll take the most misunderstood setting on a TV set, sharpness. This setting most people think that turning it up will make their image sharper. That’s not exactly true, though. It is, in reality, an edge detection and enhancement filter, and adds artifacts to the image. It also reduces detail on the image. If you have it on, I’d suggest turning it off, wait a week of regular viewing, and see what the image is like before and after. You’ll probably be happier with the setting off than up at all.

    As far as those people who calibrate once and forget it, that’s just apathy kicking in. I calibrate my sets myself with the Avia DVD every 6 months (DLP projection, if it were CRT/plasma/LCD direct-view, I’d go one year.) If you want accurate representation of the image, you need to have your rig calibrated, although, self-calibration is a very valid method, as long as you can understand the directions and reasoning the DVD is giving you.

  33. jaydez says:

    yeah, I meant THX certified. I dont pay attemton when I type. Just look in the extras on the DVD.

  34. urban_ninjya says:

    Sounds kinda of like an OCD thing. Gotta have that picture just perfect, even though the thing looks kinda good already. I think that’s the sort of thinking that let’s BestBuy and the other places rip people off on the Monster Cables

  35. LeopardSeal says:

    @GenXCub: Haven’t you heard? It’s what all the cool kids are doing these days.

    Seriously though, this whole “blame the consumer/poster” attitude around here lately is enough to make me skip the comments half the time.

  36. backbroken says:

    @B: It’s $100 to access the panel, but much much more if you want the gunk cleaned off of it first.

  37. AcidReign says:

        I grew up in the era where you had knobs on the TV, and no remote. Moving the knobs and seeing what happened was fun. And now, even if you totally hose your TV or computer monitor/video card settings, there’s usually handy “default settings” reset. They didn’t have that in the 1960s.

        In fact, back in those days, if you really wanted to mess with somebody, you’d just reach into the knobs, and mess with the vertical hold, horizontal hold, and fine tuning knobs on their TV…

  38. nick_r says:

    ISF calibration costs waaay more than $104.74 but, at least in my case, it was well worth it. However, not only should the person you hire to do it not be employed by Circuit City; they shouldn’t even be the type of person to ever set foot in one.

  39. kc2idf says:

    In short, turn the brightness down, buddy.

    This advice absolutely holds true for computer monitors as well. I just bought one over the weekend, and, after getting it set up, I found it to be blindingly bright. It is far more usable now, with the brightness turned down to around 30 (on a scale of 100). It was 90 out of the box. Similarly, my monitor at work is usually set to 50 (also on a scale of 100), but it is a few years older, which makes me wonder if we are seeing the visual equivalent to the loudness war.

  40. zentec says:

    Ambient light? Would that be ambient light in the morning, or the ambient light at 5:00 p.m. And is that 5:00 p.m. in the summer, or winter?

    There are reasons to have calibration, but not by the Circuit City equivalent of Geek Squad. Contact the AVS forums for people who are really qualified with the proper test equipment.

    Although, it’s all so subjective anyway so I don’t see the need regardless.

  41. SuperJdynamite says:

    @SarcasticDwarf: “I always laugh a little at stories about tv calibration. Being mostly colorblind (is that like mostly harmless?) I always find it rather amusing.”

    Wouldn’t you want the TV calibrated for somebody with your particular flavor of colorblindness?

  42. SuperJdynamite says:

    @mewyn dyner: “Usually the non-user settings are done through the remote, in a secret menu, not a panel.”

    I assumed that “panel” meant “menu screen”.

  43. orielbean says:

    If you have the model number of your television, goto AVS Forums and search for it. The super geeks all post on that site, and almost always will post their settings for each TV. I swear by that site and it’s totally free. There is a calibration DVD you can buy that comes will RGB cellophane that you hold up to your picture to optimize the colors.

    I do love the AVS Forums site – just google it and then search the forum for your television model. It’s full of other useful info about the television that you will enjoy. I know a big one is the “backlight” setting that matters a lot depending on the average lighting of the room…

  44. BrianU says:

    Not only is blaming the consumer getting much too common, helpful comments are too few. “If it wasn’t broken, why fix it?” is a rule of thumb that has validity that doesn’t apply to situations like this. Calibration/fine tuning isn’t the same as an all-or-nothing “broken” and many consumers of high tech or high cost items
    want them to operate at the specifications or optimized settings that may very well have been the reason they selected a particular model or system. “Looks pretty good” isn’t the same as looking the way it’s supposed to, or as good as it can, which may well be quite impressive and a justification for making a purchase of a new piece of equipment. The cost of a service call seems high to me, but insuring that your investment is performing at its’ best, and avoiding the time, doubts, and frustrations of doing numerous little tweaks they have a chance of making things unwatchable has an even higher price as far as satisfaction goes. If you wouldn’t pay for a professional adjustment, say so – but don’t imply that anyone who would is a sucker.

  45. sp00nix says:

    @kimsama: Its like when a customer comes in with an iPod 3 weeks later and claims it cam out of the box with a broken screen, usually they are full of shit.

  46. Ronin-Democrat says:

    you’ve waited five weeks and counting. after the two wait you gave them out of courtesy you should have called your card company and registered your displeasure their and gotten a charge back, now with all gthe time p;assed your case is diminished. why waste gas. 1-800 chargeback is the way to go.

  47. RandoX says:

    Can I stash a gun in that secret panel?

    Huh? It’s a software panel? Oh. Never mind.

  48. Asvetic says:

    You can do it at home: [www.amazon.com] Plenty of tools are available at low prices. I have one of the DVE DVDs and it was a simple process. They give you a color chart and guide you through how to change your settings properly. I don’t know how that CC guy did it by eye, the color charts were pretty elaborate. Plus, did he set up each of your presets (Movie, Sports, Games, Bright, or Vivid) that most TVs come with?

    No doubt you got screwed on this deal. I hope you’re able to get your money back (charge back like Meg suggested!)

  49. guspaz says:

    On my TV (LG LC372D, I think it was), there is indeed a secret menu. You hold down the MENU button on the remote, and after a while, a password prompt appears. You enter the secret password (8741), and are presented with a useful secret menu that lets you set calibrations/preferences for each input source. There’s also a different low-level menu that lets you set all sorts of settings with three-letter abbreviations that I’m pretty sure no enduser should ever touch.

    I actually needed the calibration menu, though, to reduce overscan on my TV. I found that, by default, the TV had something like 2.5 percent overscan. This doesn’t seem like a lot, and in most instances doesn’t matter. It is a problem, however, when using PC output, or trying to watch subtitled anime. Some videos have the subtitles very low on the screen, and in some animes the subtitles cut off by the overscan.

    With calibration, the overscan is now about 1%, which is a huge improvement. Most anime is now watchable. Of course, an option for zero percent overscan, especially when accepting DVI or VGA input from a PC, would be nice. As would be support for displaying an image from a PC at the native panel res (1366×768) instead of making the PC give it 1280×720 and upscaling. But it seems that that is impossible on this TV.

  50. Pink Puppet says:

    @armour: I have a cheaper alternative.

    My eyes.

  51. drakaal says:

    You should check out the HD Calibration slates from http://www.xyhd.tv/slates

    They are free at the moment but the pay version are going to come out later this week, If you shoot me an e-mail I’ll put you on the list to do a review of them.

    They include special glasses that let you calibrate far more accurately than you can with just an eye, and actually give a result that is better in most case than using a “Spyder” or other calibration equipment because if you are slightly color discriminate the color settings will match the characteristics of your eye rather than necessarily what is recomended. (it’s your home theatre it should be ideal for you, and really close for the rest of the people)

  52. zymase says:

    I actually used to work at this Circuit City, in the TV department no less, and I was there when Firedog “launched.” I can vouch that basically anything sold by Firedog “experts” outside of installing a bracket for a wall-mounted TV is a complete sham.

  53. midwestkel says:

    @strife1012: I never got that DVD with my protection plan when I bought my HDTV, WTF…

  54. wimawep says:

    I am a video engineer and work with broadcast cameras and monitors. The controls available beyond contrast and brightness setting are few and mostly gimmicks put there by the manufacturer. Burn in is dependent on contrast alone and the new plasmas are very resistant. DLP’s and other rear screen micro displays are not subject to burn in. Going into the sub menus
    by pressing a combination of keys will give you and anybody not really very well trained the opportunity to screw the set up beyond all recognition. These are set at the factory for functions that need never be changed unless major components are replaced. Calibration is BS.

  55. chrisjames says:

    TV calibration? What’s that? Wiggling the rabbit ears until it stops cutting in and out? Fiddling with the cabling to make sure nothing’s loose? Telling the kids they can sit close, but not too close?

  56. bluewyvern says:

    The headline is wrong. It should be something like “Circuit City Charges $104.74 to Adjust Your Brightness and Contrast, Pretends It’s For Secret Menu Access.” ‘Cause they didn’t actually access the secret menu, and the OP was actually willing to pay that much for that service.

    I didn’t know that all this advanced calibration stuff existed, and I never would have guessed it would cost so much. Whole new world to me.

  57. TVGenius says:

    Just grab any Star Wars DVD, get the THX blue glasses, and that’s all you need. I mean, what the heck are you watching? Analog cable is crap, and digital cable and satellite are highly compressed (and often analog feeds converted to digital). I’d almost bet that if you either had it professionally done, or did it yourself to the proper standards, you’d think it didn’t look as good. Most people prefer to oversaturate the color, and a lot have the black levels too low.

  58. The Count of Monte Fisto says:

    People still buy TVs? Make your own, then these things won’t happen!

  59. topgun says:

    First off Best Buy is a NO-NO.
    Second, I have an Olivia that let’s the consumer do all of this. Send me the money and I’ll tell you how.

  60. Michael Belisle says:

    @topgun: What’s an “Olivia”? I’ve been looking for one for a while. Please post your account and routing information and I’ll wire the funds.

  61. TechnoDestructo says:

    @digitalhen:
    If you pay money to any retailer for anything without getting a physical object in return, you are a sucker, yes.

  62. XianZomby says:

    Hey, I have this TV that is, quite frankley, excellent. But I’m not sure it’s as excellent as it could be. So I’m going to pay a guy $100 dollars to come out and make it $100 dollars more excellent. If I pay him $200 dollars, he says he’ll make it $200 dollars excellent. But he told me there’s a price break and he can actually make it $400 dollars more excellent for only $350. So, you know, it’s already totally excellent and all, but, hey, if they can make it more so, I’m in! And also there’s the extended warrenty. I’m gonna get that too. EXCELLENT!

  63. grahammc says:

    @wimawep:
    Wow, you’re a “video engineer” and don’t understand the value of calibration? I hope you’re not working on anything I’ll ever see. Accurate greyscale tracking is vital to anyone striving to watch movies and HDTV programs that look the way the director intended. I have been to our local PBS studio and even they have a greyscale chart (that costs thousands of dollars) in their studio to ensure that their cameras and monitors are accurate.

    I am an ISF calibrator and, though not worthwhile in all homes and viewing rooms, everyone we have done a calibration for has been very happy with the results. If you’re the type of person willing to spend thousands of dollars to get the best display (most capable) that you can find/afford, why not spend a little bit more to get it tuned to be the best it can be?? Not everyone needs or wants to spend money on tuning their car, but would many of you argue the benefits it provides for those who desire it?

    Kudos to Consumerist for pointing out that what the OP was looking for wasn’t what Circuit City provided and pointing folks to the ISF. By the way, the official website is http://www.imagingscience.com, not isfcalibration.com as one poster left. If you care about your home theater experience, contact your local calibrator. We’ll make it worth your while!!

    Graham

  64. Klay says:

    Use a Lee Polyester color correction Filter 3″ x 3″. SMPTE BLUE 47B.

    THE BLUE 47B Filter: SMPTE BLUE

    If your monitor does not have a BLUE GUN ONLY switch, you will need to obtain a blue filter to look at the bars. You’ll need a 47B Blue filter. You may use a pure blue gel such as Rosco’s #80 Primary blue.

    WARNING: The COLOR BAR file supplied with Adobe Premiere 5.x is not SMPTE standard. Using these bars at the header of a tape will cause a dub house or broadcaster to adjust the chroma too low. You should use SMPTE bars generated by a professional camera or DVD. The bars generated in Adobe Premiere 6.x are correct.

    BASIC:

    1. Allow monitor to warm up for 5-10 minutes minimum. Adjustments will not be accurate on a cold monitor.

    2. Display SMPTE color bars on monitor. Turn CHROMA (color level) control all the way down.

    3. Find the PLUGE (superblack, black, and gray bars) at the lower right of the pattern. Adjust BRIGHTNESS control until there is no difference visible between the superblack and black bars, but a difference is visible between the black and gray bars.

    4. Adjust CONTRAST control to achieve a balanced gray scale across top bars.

    5.Switch on BLUE GUN ONLY switch, or look at bars through blue filter.

    6. Turn up CHROMA (color level) control until the two outermost bars (white and blue appear to match in brightness.

    7. Adjust COLOR PHASE (tint or hue) control until the third bar from the left (cyan) and the third bar from the right (magenta) appear to match in brightness.

    8. Your monitor/TV is now properly adjusted.

    No charge.

  65. bran100 says:

    The local store now says they’re working on the problem, and the Circuit City corporate “escalation” department says all they can do is send someone back out to perform the service again. I’d rather an appendectomy.

    As far as my desire for the original service goes, I don’t understand some of the comments. When you own a car, you perform proactive maintenance to ensure your car lasts as long as it can. The car will operate without an oil change for a while, but won’t it last longer if you change the oil? Even if you’re not a mechanic, it’s common sense to pro-actively service your equipment.

    If I’m paying $2,000 for a TV, I’d like to perform pro-active maintenance on it to ensure that it lasts as long as it possibly can. If that means spending another 100 bucks for someone to “optimize” the settings and prolong the life, I would say that’s pretty analogous to changing the oil in your car to make it last longer. For an HDTV newbie like myself, the CC “calibration” sounded like a reasonable service. In hindsight, it’s not so reasonable anymore, but don’t fault me for trying to protect my equipment. We all change our oil because someone told us to.

  66. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    It’s like losing your money in a corner side game of “three card monty” then realising you got scammed and going back to the same corner to ask for your money back. Screw Circuit City.

  67. Sherryness says:

    @SarcasticDwarf: I’m laughing too, but it’s because my TV didn’t even cost $100. LOL It’s mainly for my son to watch cartoons and play Spyro on. When I want to watch a movie, I usually do it on my computer. I’d still be pissed if I were this guy, though. He was totally lied to, screwed over, and now he’s being ignored by the people who should care about it. Way to go, CC.

  68. DoctorMD says:

    All TVs are “broken” when you buy them. Its amazing they can get away with it. It must be the “ignorance is bliss” phenomenon. Someone used a great analogy. Imagine if you bought a car and had to immediately take it to the service dept to be tuned up. You would be pissed. But that is what you do with TVs.

  69. bran100 says:

    Circuit City called to say they refunded my card for the full amount. thanks all.
    Brandon

  70. timsgm1418 says:

    completely agree, that was indeed fun…my parents had 5 remotes, us kids…@AcidReign:

  71. guevera says:

    @Klay: Dude, I work in TV and can just follow that. An impressive display of sheer engineering geekiness, but I don’t know how much help it will be for most of the readers here. Funny, I wish the engineers at my station would actually do that to our monitors once in a while — it’d make a world of difference.

    A complete aside: anyone know if there is any modern equivalent to the old Sony Trinitrons? Bulletproof signal reproduction for decades on end. You don’t even need to pay cc to dial in the contrast…

  72. KashmirKong says:

    That $104.74 is idiot tax. I’m sorry, but to be willing to spend money to have someone come in, throw in a DVD and fiddle with the settings until he tells you he’s finished?

    That gets no sympathy from me.

  73. invader-zim says:

    sucks for the customer, but I have to say… if you’re upset about it, get it fixed right away. If my customer came to me the day they were unhappy, i’d fix their situation. if they came to me two weeks later, i’d say ‘tough luck.’

  74. Frostberg says:

    Paying money for a calibration is not stupid. Paying money to Firedog is. The installer needs to ba ISF certified. Firedog technicians go not have a sencore pattern generator or the $10,000-$15,000 of equipment and training necessary to do a proper ISF calibration. Best Buy can do calibrations in most markets by ISF certified technicians. Geek Squad is certified, Firedog is not. Geek Squad can access the service menu and get real time color temperture readings.

  75. bobblack555 says:

    You’re a moron for actually paying someone to come calibrate your TV. Your own fault.

  76. Xerloq says:

    To the OP – if you really want to pay for professional calibration, and you’re in the SLC area, support your local economy and use TV Specialists: [www.tvspecialists.com] . They’re a local shop, and have great service in my experience. It will most likely cost you more than the FD experience, though. I say, just DIY with the THX calibration on the DVDs mentioned earlier – you probably already own one. Visit THX.com and look for the blue filter glasses (or Google it). It’s cheap (I paid $2 for S/H) and works pretty well.

  77. Sidecutter says:

    @jaydez: @graffiksguru: THX certification and the other certifications you find on a particular movie disc are NOT standardized certifications. They are specific to the disc itself and to the movie contained thereon. They should not be used for overall calibration of the set, only for calibration for that movie.

    A true calibration disc is a dedicated DVD. Deepdiscount has them for around $17, and a set of Red, Blue, and Green color filters would be a worthwhile investment for the best results, as well as fairly inexpensive.

  78. ChrisNF says:

    @kimsama: We all love it when they “take us seriously”.

  79. ChrisNF says:

    Wow! After several weeks of wrangling the CC, in less than 24 hours on Consumerist he has his money back.

    That’s what I call taking it seriously. Go Consumerist!

  80. MYarms says:

    Everyone always has to one-up everyone else around them. If you’re really that concerned about calibrating your $5000 TV you probably need to step away from it and get back into the real world.

  81. Xerloq says:

    @Sidecutter: I’ve used the THX calibration on various THX certified discs, and interestingly enough, I’ve never had to adjust between each DVD. I’ve taken it to mean if the content on the DVD is THX certified, and you’ve calibrated the TV using any THX certification, all THX discs will be optimized (at least, as far as the consumer can DIY), and the THX site seems to agree. Granted, this would only function if all signal paths from the DVD source to the TV are THX certified, but that’s all part of their branding/marketing (note: I’m not looking to start a monster cable-esque debate here).

    The calibration steps are standard, but the viewing experience is not, so I generally advise consumers who want to tune the TV to start with something cheap and fine tune themselves. Most people don’t perceive the subtle differences involved in reproducing reference-grade content nor is consumer equipment geared toward reproducing such content. THX Optimizer is good enough for me.

    That said, if you want it done, do it right – find a local professional (not FG or GS).

  82. brandenpro says:

    If you havent seen a properly Calibrated display, you dont really know what you are talking about.

    Once Greyscale, Gamma, Brightness, Contrast, Color Decoder, Overscan, and Sharpness are set properly for each input you will see a huge difference in PQ.

    After watching a properly calibrated display for a period of time, a uncalibrated display looks way to oversatured and bright.

    I installed a Pio 5010 today, and I own a Pio 4270. Seeing the Uncalibrated 5010 compared to my 4270 it wasnt even close. I also have a Lumagen, and have everything setup dead on on.

    That being said just getting White and Black correct can make a huge difference. But if you really want to see what the pictures were meant to look like you need a Color meter, and alot of knowledge.

  83. brandenpro says:

    asdf

  84. ellis2x says:

    Wow… simply… wow. I frequent this site often enough to enjoy reading the articles, but I’ve always steered clear of reading comments if possible.

    “If you’re really that concerned about calibrating your $5000 TV you probably need to step away from it and get back into the real world.”

    If you spent that much on a display, you have every right in the world to demand that it perform to such and such a degree. The fact that so many people on here bash others for what is an intrinsic desire to assure themselves a quality experience is mind boggling. Calling the OP “stupid” for wanting to calibrate his display is backwards and spiteful.

    After being an ISF/CEDIA/HAA/THX certified technician for a while, it’s almost heartbreaking to read comments from people disparaging others from seeking professional help for services or offers they themselves lack expertise in. Grow up people. We live in an adult world where it is okay to want the “best.” If you owned a Ferrari or a Morgan or a Bugatti, you probably wouldn’t turn the wrenches yourself, either. But no, you own a Vizio, or an Olevia, and you scoff and chortle at others while your blacks are so gray that a star lit sky looks like a smoggy day in Los Angeles.

  85. AHammer says:

    ISF Calibration will make you Tv look amazing, however you can get pretty close by reading up on you model and brand TV at a forum site like the AVS forums. Get info on service menu settings and be careful when you are in those menus because you can actually do some damage to those expensive sets. ISF calibrators are certified so make sure you see the credintials of anyone who wants to mess with your expensive TV.

  86. SahilaSheep says:

    @axiomatic:
    Just an FYI,
    All calibration techs at Best Buy are ISF certified. I know this,
    because I attended the training myself. You can go to their website and
    see a list of certified technicians to verify. I recommend this to
    anyone interested in calibration. I don’t know what CC does, nor do I
    care, but as for Best Buy, we do it the right way, and we are not
    idiots.

    Tim Sharp
    Geek Squad HT Install
    Store 496 Riverdale UT
    (801) 330-2561