How to adjust the video quality on Apple TV
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How to adjust the video quality on Apple TV

Jun 21, 2023

Whether it's to verify you are set for the best video quality or for updating when you get a new TV, you should check Apple TV video quality settings

Apple TV is a wonderful portal to all your favorite TV and video content and one of the best media streaming devices. While it's simple just to queue up a video and play, you can delve deeper into customization by adjusting the video settings. This might be to confirm that the output resolution of the Apple TV matches your TV's native resolution, to tweak frame rate and dynamic range, and confirm you’re watching at the maximum resolution possible to get the most out of your content.

Keep in mind that you need a TV that supports whatever formats you choose, along with the appropriate content subscription (if there are tiers), as well as, in some cases, a high-speed HDMI cable. But once you set yourself up for high-quality viewing, it's a quick check-in Apple TV settings to adjust parameters to ensure you get maximum enjoyment.

Knowing how to adjust these settings is only half the equation. Understanding why and what they mean is a different story.

HDR: High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a feature you’ll find in some of the latest premium TVs, and it relates to how broad the contrast scale is. This is not only between dark and bright but everything in between. With HDR, you’ll see better detail in pictures with a wider range of colors, the brightest of brights and the darkest of blacks.

Resolution: These relate to the number of pixels (tiny dots) used to create the image you see on the screen. The higher the resolution, the more crisp and detailed the picture will be. Note that the highest resolution you can watch something in is the highest resolution your TV supports. But if you have one of the best TVs, you’ll be able to enjoy content in all its glory, as long as everything is in the right settings.

Frame rate: This relates to motion. The higher the number, the smoother the picture will be in scenes with especially fast-moving motion, like you’d find in action movies, sports, competition shows, and more. Think of the fast-speed football or hockey players are moving on screen as the camera pans back and forth or a thrilling car chase scene in a movie. That's when you'll notice this the most.

Dynamic range: This relates to the differences between dark and bright images in the picture. The higher the dynamic range, the more pronounced these differences will be. Your blacks will look blacker, whites whiter, and the contrast between them will make for a compelling, more realistic image. (Hence HDR!)

YCbCr: Put simply, this relates to how colors are displayed on the screen. Most TVs prefer YCbCr, but you may wish to use RGB if it is matched to your TV's settings and you have a high-speed HDMI cable. RGB High may provide a more accurate representation of colors. YCbCr translates colors by brightness and chroma, while RGB uses a combination of red, green, and blue. If you have a high-speed HDMI cable, try both and see which you like better. It could be a matter of personal preference as well as the type of content you watch most. For most people, however, you may not notice a difference, so you’re best off leaving this setting as is.

Chroma: Refers to compression that is used to reduce color information in a signal. The benefit is that it can reduce bandwidth while not impacting your picture quality. For discerning eyes, however, such as photographers or videographers reviewing their work through Apple TV, they may wish to adjust to 4.4.4. There's no compression at all, so you get all the luminance and color data on screen and a more accurate representation of the colors in the picture or video. Keep in mind that your TV needs to be compatible with this, and you need a high-speed HDMI cable. Most average people watching TV shows, sports, and movies won't notice a difference, especially with an already high-resolution TV. So this is another setting worth leaving as-is unless you have professional reasons to change it. (Most would likely use a computer monitor with 4.4.4 instead for not only viewing but also editing professional photos and videos.)

Quick Media Switching: Available with the Apple TV 4K model and compatible 2023 TV models, this helps eliminate that short black screen you might see when transitioning from content with one frame rate to another. The result is a more seamless video playback experience as you switch among different video apps. If you choose this option, it should be selected along with Match Content.

Play around with these settings and see if you notice a difference when you’re watching the next TV show or movie. Hopefully, with some adjustments, you can make the colors pop more. Scenes will look smoother, crisper, and more true to life. Especially if you upgrade to a new TV, you’ll want to double-check the settings once you connect your Apple TV. In many cases, they are automatically set to the best possible options. But you might want to make additional tweaks.

Christine is a freelance writer and editor with more than 20 years of experience in the tech and entertainment businesses. Holding a B.A. in Communications and Psychology, she's passionate about technology and has reviewed, written about, tested, and researched hundreds of products and services through her career. Currently serving as a contributor to XDA, covering everything from iPhones to MacBooks, Christine loves to unwind with a good TV show and a glass of red wine at home.

XDA VIDEO OF THE DAY SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT Settings Video and Audio Enable HDR Try It Format HDMI output Chroma Match Content Match Dynamic Range Match Frame Rate Check HDMI Connection Reset Video Settings, what they mean HDR Resolution Frame rate Dynamic range YCbCr Chroma Quick Media Switching