Step aside, 4K: High Dynamic Range (HDR) is the most exciting jump in picture quality since the transition to HD, and it's available on more TVs than ever. But if you bring home your shiny new HDR TV only to find that shows are too dark to see, you might think there's something wrong—after all, isn't HDR all about brightness? Here's what's going on and what you can do to brighten the picture.
Why HDR Seems Dark on Some TVs
The movies and shows you've been watching for years were mastered in what we now call standard dynamic range, or SDR—and it's actually quite dim, mastered with peak brightness levels of only about 100 nits. Most modern LCD TVs, however, are capable of putting out 300 nits or more when playing that SDR content, so if you're in a brightly lit room, you can just crank up the backlight, which lifts the brightness of everything in the picture—from dark shadows to bright highlights.
HDR is different. Its main purpose is, as its name suggests, to create a higher dynamic range—that is, a bigger gap between the dark parts of a scene and the bright parts. In HDR, bright highlights can be 1,000 nits or more, depending on the capabilities of your TV. In HDR, a sun shining through the forest will really pop against the shady foreground, or a campfire will glow like an oasis of warmth against the dark desert night. On the right TV, this creates an incredible image, but it doesn't mean the entire image is brighter than its SDR counterpart—only those highlights are. The average brightness of the HDR scene should, in theory, be similar to that same scene in SDR (though this can vary from movie to movie, depending on how it was graded).
However, there's a problem: Many TVs default to the maximum backlight and contrast levels in HDR mode, so you can't crank them any higher for that well-lit living room like you can with SDR content. This isn't true of all TVs, but it is common, and it can leave you in quite a pickle.
Even worse, some TVs actually darken the image to make up for their HDR failings. "The light output of many value 4K HDR TVs is often no different than that of many non-HDR TVs," says Robert Heron, a professional TV calibrator and host of the AVExcel home theater podcast. This is most common on cheaper TVs, but it can happen with certain midrange or even high-end models that cut corners on brightness. Combine that with HDR's wider color palette, which many of these lower-performing TVs can't reproduce, and the TV has to do something to make up for its shortcomings.
When a TV can't reproduce those bright highlights at the specified levels, it performs a process called tone-mapping to fit the content to its capabilities. Say you have a lower-end TV that's capable of only 350 nits in HDR. When it plays a scene that has a 1,000-nit highlight, it has to adjust the scene so that highlight is only 350 nits. There are two main ways TV engineers approach this:
Some TVs will "clip" the bright highlights, keeping the average brightness of the scene where it is. The picture won't darken much, but the highlights may be a bit blown out.
Other TVs will lower the average brightness of the scene, preserving the detail in the highlights but making the overall image darker than it was originally mastered.
If your TV does the latter, good luck trying to watch that scene in a well-lit room. (You see this in action in this clip from HDTVTest—he's using high-end OLED TVs in that video, but the general principle can apply to cheaper TVs too, where the effect will be even more exacerbated.)
In other words, just because a TV can accept an HDR signal doesn't mean it's really capable of reproducing HDR properly, and your experience will suffer as a result.
How to Brighten the Image for Daytime Viewing
Alright, enough technobabble—you just want to be able to see your TV. Every set is a little different, but there are a few things you can try to make that picture brighter.
First, Heron recommends starting with the TV's firmware. "Verify there isn't an update that could address any known issues," he says. Especially on value-oriented TVs, firmware updates can have a drastic effect on picture quality. Sometimes it's an improvement, sometimes it's a downgrade—one of the reasons I leave my TV disconnected from the internet—so I recommend Googling around to see what other people have experienced with the latest firmware before you take the plunge. You might get lucky.
If that doesn't work, start playing an HDR movie or show—to put your TV in HDR mode—then open the TV's picture settings. Heron recommends starting from a blank slate, so reset the picture modes to their default. Then, try the following:
Turn up the backlight: You've probably already tried this, but if not, find the Backlight setting and turn it up. Note that you want to crank the Backlight setting, not the Brightness setting, which should almost always stay at its default value. Raising the brightness might brighten the picture a bit, but it'll also crush shadow detail. (Sony TVs are the exception, where the Backlight setting is labeled "Brightness.") Some TVs may not let you adjust the backlight any higher in HDR mode, but others will.
Adjust local dimming: Again, this setting is probably already set to its ideal level, but just in case, open your picture settings and play with the Local Dimming option (if your TV has one). Certain presets may dim the entire image to keep black levels as deep as possible, which is not necessary in a well-lit room.
Tweak your gamma: If your TV has a Gamma setting, it's likely set at 2.2 by default. Changing it to 2.0 or lower may help the picture appear brighter.
Change your picture preset: You've probably read TV guides that say you should put your TV in Movie or Cinema mode for the most accurate picture, and that's true—but this may look too dim during the daytime. "That preset is specifically optimized for dark-room viewing," says Heron, which is why some TVs have a "Cinema Home" mode that's brighter than the regular Cinema mode. In other cases, you may even want to go so far as choosing the Standard picture mode. The colors won't be as accurate, but it might counter the ambient light and make the picture look brighter.
Go back to SDR: Finally, if none of the above works well enough for you, there's one last-ditch option: watch your shows in SDR during the day. There's no shame in this—some would even argue that HDR is really meant for dark-room viewing anyway. If you can't get a bright enough HDR picture in your sunlit living room, go to the menu of your streaming box, head to its display settings, and turn HDR off. You can always switch it back to HDR on the occasions you're watching movies in a dark room and want the full effect. Or, at least, as much of the full effect as your TV is capable of.
Ultimately, you'll have to play with your settings and see what works for your TV in your room. If you can't seem to get it bright enough and you aren't satisfied with switching back to SDR, a professional calibrator may be able to help you dial in the picture for that brighter environment—though if you have a cheaper TV, you might be better off returning it and putting that money toward a more capable set. Heron notes that there are plenty of bright TVs out there, even if you're on a budget, so it rarely makes sense to settle for a lower-performing model. You shouldn't have to squint to see your shows.
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Question:Q:Why everything on apple tv app is so dark regardless of which device you watch the content on? HDTV, PC, IPhone, IPad, or etc.
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Why everything on apple tv app is so dark regardless of which device you watch the content on? HDTV, PC, IPhone, IPad, or etc.
Posted on Oct 14, 2020 7:42 PM
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Oct 19, 2020 3:30 PM in response to Rusbrush In response to Rusbrush
We understand the brightness on your Apple TV is not as bright as expected. We would like to help provide a way to adjust the Display Accommodations.
Use Display Accommodations on Apple TV
"This setting adjusts the level of dimness or brightness on your display.
- In Settings on Apple TV, go to General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations, then turn on Light Sensitivity.
- Select Intensity, then swipe to adjust the percentage of display intensity."
Have a great week!
Oct 19, 2020 3:30 PM
Question:Q:Why everything on apple tv app is so dark regardless of which device you watch the content on? HDTV, PC, IPhone, IPad, or etc.
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How to Enable Dark Mode on Apple TV
I am fond of movies and TV Shows. With the launch of Apple TV+ now, I have my eyes set on some more great additional programs. After a day of work, I enjoy watching these or the new Netflix movies at night. This is where the dark mode on Apple TV plays a significant role. It makes the TV background appearance dark and thus comfortable on the eyes. On the other side, the light background appears to pierce the eyes when the room lights are off, and the TV screen is at considerable brightness. So, enabling dark mode on Apple TV is a godsend. Here is how to turn it on.
How to Turn ON Dark Mode on Apple TV: Two Methods Explained
Enable Dark Mode in Settings App on Apple TV
Step #1. Launch the Settingsapp on your Apple TV.
Step #2. Now, go to General → Appearance.
Step #3. From here, out of Light, Dark or Automatic, select Dark.
To disable Dark Mode on Apple TV, select Light from here.
Pro Tip: You may also set it to Automatic. Apple TV will ask for your location, and then it will automatically switch between Light and Dark mode. During the day, it will be Light, and at night it will change to Dark. Convenient. Right!
Turn ON Dark Mode on Apple TV Using Siri
Siri is a smart assistant. It can perform a number of tasks quickly, conveniently and effortlessly just by voice command. You can use Siri to turn on dark mode on your Apple TV.
To do so, launch Siri on your Apple TV and ask it ‘Turn on Dark mode.‘
You may also ask Siri to turn it off by saying ‘Turn off Dark Mode.‘
These were the two easy ways to enable and disable Dark mode on Apple TV. People had been asking for this mode on iPhone and Mac too. Finally, every Apple Product has this dark appearance. It makes using the device comfortable at night. I hope you have a pleasant experience of watching Apple TV. Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Apple TV Plus -- Apple's $5-a-month streaming service -- houses a number of popular, exclusive shows like Ted Lasso, Dickinson and Schmigadoon. The tech giant launched Apple TV Plus in 2019, aiming to compete with Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max and others.
Here are a few hacks to make sure you get the most out of the service.
Stay up-to-date on the latest news, reviews and advice on iPhones, iPads, Macs, services and software.
Get an Apple TV Plus free trial
Normally Apple TV Plus costs $5 a month or $50 for an annual subscription. You can still get a free trial of the service, but Apple changed up the time periods in June. Now, if you're planning to try Apple TV Plus out with the free trial, there are three options.
If you're signing up for the first time, you qualify for a seven-day free trial before the $5 monthly charge kicks in. If you buy a new (or new-to-you) iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod Touch or Mac, you'll qualify for a three-month free subscription. To get the free trial period, you have to redeem the offer within 90 days of purchase.
Lastly, if you can, take advantage of the Apple One bundle -- which lets users combine different services like Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple News Plus, storage service iCloud and the new Apple Fitness Plus for one price. By subscribing to Apple One, you can try Apple TV Plus free for one month.
The Apple TV app has a dark mode option, too
Dark mode gained serious momentum over the last year and it seemed like every app was adding the option. The Apple TV app is no different. You can put the app into Dark Mode or choose Automatic, which makes Dark Mode activate at night only. To set it up on your Apple TV or another device, choose Settings > General > Appearance > choose Dark or Automatic.
Reduce Loud Sounds in your Apple TV Plus volume settings
Yes, we know about volume controls, but the Apple TV app's Reduce Loud Sounds option does only that -- reduces loud sounds. This way, if you've bravely chosen to watch a horror movie alone or a war film with dozens of thunderous explosions, you won't be constantly raising and lowering the volume. On your Apple TV, choose Settings > Video and Audio > Reduce Loud Sounds.
Download Apple TV Plus movies and episodes of your favorite shows to watch offline
When you know you're going to be away from Wi-Fi, you can download shows and movies in the Apple TV app to watch offline later. You can do this on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Mac. Simply open the app and select the movie or show you want to download. Tap the cloud-shaped download button. The icon will appear next to each individual episode of a show and will be next to a movie's title. When the download completes, you can find the content in the Library section of the app.
When you're finished with the content, go back into the Library section of the app and tap Edit. You can select which titles you want to get rid of and then tap Delete Download.
Go behind the scenes with iTunes Extras
ITunes Extras is a feature that lets you go behind the scenes of your favorite movie. Certain titles will have "extras" like trailers, gag reels, deleted scenes, alternate endings and more. To find out if a film you want to watch in the Apple TV app has iTunes Extras, open the Movies app and select a title. Scroll down past Viewers Also Watched. If the title has iTunes Extras, it'll be in a preview section next to the trailers.
Apple TV Plus sleep mode lets you doze while you stream
If you like to doze off with the TV as background noise, you can customize Apple TV to "go to sleep" when you're ready. On your Apple TV, go to Settings > General > Sleep After to set a time frame for the app to turn itself off.
Turn on subtitles in Apple TV Plus
Subtitles virtually eliminate the risk that you might miss an important plot point, even if you're not watching a foreign movie or you're not hard of hearing. To get subtitles on Apple TV, you can swipe downward while watching a show or movie and turn them on. If you're not a fan of keeping subtitles on throughout a movie, you can also ask Siri "What did he just say?" if you can't understand a character. The title will rewind to where the last person spoke and turn on subtitles temporarily.
Follow your favorite shows so you don't miss new episodes
Although I'm perpetually adding movies and shows to my watchlists that I'll probably never watch, I like being able to know when a new season of a show is out. The Apple TV app can track shows you watch automatically under the Up Next section in Watch Now. It pulls the shows from across multiple streaming services, except for Netflix. For example, mine shows several titles I was watching on Hulu.
When new episodes become available, they'll jump to the front of the queue. Along the same lines, if you're not sure what to start watching, you can ask Siri "What should I watch?" for some suggestions. You can also ask to see popular movies or what shows are trending.
Restrict adult content from the kids
You probably don't want your kids watching everything you do on Apple TV, so the app has a way to make sure there's no content overlap. You can assign a PIN code to movies or shows with a specific rating so your kids can't access them. It only applies to iTunes content though, so that means shows and movies you've bought or rented through Apple. On the Apple TV, you can set a PIN code by going to Settings > General > Restrictions. Set the code and then you can decide what counts as Allowed Content.
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