Optimize your TV

Disable OverscanTV Settings

In many cases, users may be getting a subpar experience when watching content on their television and not even know about it. There are some common areas where many television models use default settings that do not provide you the best visual experience. We’ll go over a couple of those big areas below.

Tip #1 - Disable Overscan

What is overscan?

Basically, the television is set to make the image slightly larger so the edges are off screen and cannot be seen. The amount and how noticeable it is depends on the size of display and if there are visual elements like text, a network logo, etc close to the edge or get cut off screen. If you have a computer hooked up to your TV you might notice the top menubar on macOS cut off or completely hidden. On Windows you might notice the bottom task bar cut off.

Back in the old days of CRT televisions (pre-flat panel sets), overscan was necessary, because the screen technology couldn’t actually display a truly rectangular image, so the projected image needed to be larger and then the edges of the image were cut off/hidden to give a crisp rectangle. Today, a large number of television sets come with an option enabled by default to basically simulate that overscan. It is completely unnecessary for modern televisions (LCD, LED, OLED, plasma, etc.) and only degrades your experience.

In addition to cutting off parts of the image, overscan is also reducing sharpness, since it is throwing away pixels and the zoom operation enlarges the images pixels compared with the display’s actual physical pixels. More general information can be found in the related Wikipedia article

Related Page: Wikipedia - Overscan

How to turn off overscan

Unfortunately, different television manufacturers call the setting different things and place it in different locations. Worse, it’s almost never actually labeled as “overscan”. So, there doesn’t exist any single, comprehensive set of instructions on how to disable it.

In many cases, your best bet is simply to open a search engine and search for something like how to disable overscan [manufacturer] [model]*(for instance, a search for how to disable overscan LG OLED65B7A)

Some common terms that might be used in settings include Just Scan, Fit to Screen, and an Original aspect ratio—but, again, this can vary between sets. Some examples:

Tip #2 - Turn off Motion Smoothing

What is Motion Smoothing?

Motion smoothing, image interpolation, or video interpolation—they’re all the same thing and often referred to users as the “soap opera effect”—can sometimes be useful for live sports. However, it makes movies and non-live TV content (for which studios hired expert cinematographers to compose and light in the way the director wanted) look like they were shot with a home camcorder with a macro lens and ring light. It is hard to explain without actually seeing it, so I will let Tom Cruise try to convince you: Tom Cruise on Motion Smoothing

How to turn off motion smoothing

Sadly, like overscan, there is little consistency between manufacturers on how to disable this. Worse, most of them have their own, unique name for the feature (or even more than one setting related to it).
As before, your best bet is often simply to open a search engine and search for something like turn off motion smoothing [manufacturer] [model] (for instance, a search for turn off motion smoothing OLED65B7A)
Some common terms that might be used in settings include TruMotion or Auto Motion Plus—but, again, this can vary between sets. Some examples:
Depending on your TV, you might have a picture button on your TV’s remote that allows changing quick image modes like “Movies, Sports, Dynamic” which you might be able to change on the fly. However, that depends on the TV. These often only affect color and not the “smoothing”, so best to search your TV’s manual or use a search engine.

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