HDTVHave you recently purchased a new HDTV but aren’t sure how to fully enjoy it? Many of us buy new electronics and get them home before we realize the effort involved in setting them up. If you’re in that boat, check out our five tips to getting the most out of your new entertainment centerpiece.

Mounting your TV

If you’re comfortable mounting a shelf or hanging a picture in your home, you can mount a flat HDTV. Make sure you have the right tools; you can usually find the list in your TV owner’s manual. The basics are:

  • measuring tape
  • power drill with drill bits
  • screwdriver
  • pencil

The key to properly mounting your HDTV on the wall is to first find the right position (consider height, glare avoidance, and viewing angles), then find the studs in the wall to attach your mount bracket. TIP: most studs are on 16” centers. Keep in mind that you’ll have to run your cables and power cord to the TV, which may limit the possible locations. If you can run the cables behind crown molding or the baseboard, you’ll save yourself some headaches in dealing with drywall repairs (something I learned the hard way).

Connecting Components

It’s no longer just AM, FM, TV, or CD. You have DVD, DVR, 3D, 1080p, and HDTV to content with. The good news is, if you just focus on High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI), you’ll cut down the options and eliminate the headaches. The HDMI cable supports all video and audio data, which minimizes mess, and supports full 3D and 1080p signals to give you the best possible signal. That means if you want the clearest, most realistic picture, HDMI is the way to go. The only decision left is whether to buy “Standard” or “High Speed.”

Please, if you want the most out of your HDTV, buy the High Speed.

Connecting to Online Services

One of the benefits of an HDTV is its ability to connect. All the online entertainment you’re used to watching through your computer or smartphone is now available through your TV. All you need is an internet connection, and you can leave Redbox in the cold.

Here’s a list of services you should consider:

  • Vudu (Wal-Mart): 20,000 movies and TV shows, $0.99 rentals/$4.99 purchases
  • iTunes (Apple): 130,000 movies and TV shows, $2.99 rentals, $9.99 purchases
  • Amazon Instant Video: 120,000 movies and TV shows, $0.99 rentals/$4.99 purchases + $79/yr
  • Hulu: 58,500 movies and TV shows, free or $7.99/mo.
  • Netflix: 50,500 movies and TV shows, from $7.99/mo.
  • Epix (Viacom, Lionsgate, MGM): 15,000 movies, cost varies
  • Comcast XFINITY: Comcast movies, TV shows and sports, from $29.99/mo.

Get the Best Picture Possible

You have it mounted, powered up, and connected to the entertainment service of your choice. Now let’s get your HDTV picture perfect without calling in a technician and without a calibration disc. How? By using TweakTV. If you know how to adjust the brightness/contrast using a remote on your old tube, you can get your new HDTV calibrated in less than five minutes. The results are often better than the out-of-the-box settings, which most people usually leave alone. Use TweakTV’s drop down menu, search for your brand of HDTV, then search for your model. TweakTV provides pre-formulated and tested settings that you choose with your remote.

Placement and Seating

Don’t forget seating and sound; you want the experience to be a comfortable one, so make sure your furniture is at the right angle and the right distance from your TV to avoid neck- and eye-strain. If you have a surround sound system, test your arrangements to get the best feel. This is all about the experience, after all.

And there you have it—the key tips to get the most out of your new entertainment centerpiece. Did I miss something? Would you  like to add to the list? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.