Sunday, November 30, 2008

Calibrate your toys, come on!

I've had my HDTV for about 18 months, but until Friday I'd never calibrated it. I read the manual when I bought the TV and made a few adjustments based on feel, but most of the time I left the TV on the "Dynamic" setting. The manual suggested that setting was best for watching sports, and since I watch plenty of sports, it made sense to me. But last year at the Super Bowl party, one of my guests took one look at my TV's picture and said something like "You should calibrate your TV. You're pushing a lot of red. If I'd known I would have brought my calibration disc." I agreed that maybe I needed to make some more adjustments, but since he didn't have this disc with him that was the end of our conversation.

Last Friday, Gizmodo posted an item on how to calibrate your HDTV using the THX Optimizer program that comes with most THX-certified DVDs. I found the THX optimizer on one of my Star Wars DVDs and followed the instructions. I couldn't tell much of a difference on the Star Wars clip the optimizer played after I finished the procedure. But right now I'm watching the Denver-NY Jets game on my HD cable box using the same settings, and I think the picture looks better than it did before the procedure. The color range looks greater, the blacks are a little blacker, and the picture looks brighter overall. Although maybe I just think it looks better. It's hard to tell.

I'm also trying to calibrate the battery in my MacBook Pro. I've had this laptop for less than a year, and already the battery life is about 2/3 of what it was when I bought it. Two different utilities claim that my battery "health" is about 45%, and my battery lasts about two hours instead of three or more. Apple recommends that you not leave the laptop plugged in all the time, a suggestion that I willfully ignored for most of the time since I bought it. They also have a recommended battery recalibration procedure, which requires you to run the battery down completely, leave the computer powered off for five hours, and then recharge it for at least three hours while it's still powered off. The only eight-hour stretches when I don't use this laptop are overnight or the occasional weekend. Since I knew I would be out of the apartment most of the day on Thanksgiving, I ran the battery down to 0%, let the laptop hibernate, and let it sit while I went to eat at my friends' apartment. When I came home about 10 hour later, I plugged the MacBook back in and let it charge without using it. I powered it up on Friday morning, only to find that instead of a more healthy battery, I'd lost a few percentage points. I'm going to follow their recommendations a little more closely from now on, and let the MacBook run on battery power for at least an hour each day. But if the health doesn't improve, I will make use of my expensive three-year warranty and get a new battery. I know laptop batteries are fickle, but I shouldn't have this kind of problem on a nearly-brand-new laptop.

No comments: