Grab your testcard while you can

When I visit other people’s homes, one of the things that often amazes me is how badly their TV is set up. To be fair, it’s often not their fault – they simply use the settings it arrived with, selecting ‘Home’ rather than ‘Shop’ if they’re prompted, and perhaps tweaking the brightness, and nothing more.

But modern TVs have loads of options to set things up properly, and if you don’t tweak settings like sharpness, contrast and saturation, you can end up with images that don’t do justice to the screen, and make some of the channels look a long way from HD.

I’ve written here before about how to set up your TV using test patterns, and if you do want a test card then this weekend is more or less your last chance to grab one of the most iconic ever. The BBC HD channel is closing soon, and the space will become BBC2 HD. You may well wonder what that has to do with anything. Well, because BBC HD doesn’t broadcast 24 hours a day, there’s a loop of preview material shown, and that loop includes both a testcard and some audio signals that can be used to help set up your surround sound system.

According to BroadbandTV News, When BBC HD shuts down at around 0130 on March 26th – that’s next Tuesday – the test sequence will be shown in a loop until BBC 2 HD launches at 0630. So, I’d strongly advise anyone with an HD recorder to record at least part of the sequence to ensure that they have a readily available test pattern and audio signals, to enable their TV to be set up for a better picture and correct surround sound sync.

Update
The BBC’s Andy Quested has more details over on their blog; the test loop is ten minutes long and will include some old historic test cards too. He recommends that you set your PVR for a thirty minute recording any time between the end of the last BBC HD programme and the 0600.

BBC HD testcard
The BBC testcard is broadcast on the HD channel, as part of the preview loop

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