Apple TV Color Balance Feature May Make Image Quality and Colors Worse

Apple TV's Color Balance calibration feature may make color accuracy and image quality worse on some TVs, tests have found (via AFTVnews).

apple tv color balance2
Professional television calibrator Vincent Teoh, who runs the YouTube channel HDTVTest, put the ‌Apple TV‌'s color calibration feature to the test on a range of popular TVs in a recent video.

The ‌Apple TV‌'s Color Calibration debuted in tvOS 14.5 and iOS 14.5, giving users the ability to hold an iPhone with Face ID near their TV and, after tapping a notification, the ‌iPhone‌'s front-facing camera and ambient light sensor will begin color measurements and automatically tailor the ‌Apple TV‌'s video output to deliver supposedly more accurate colors and improved contrast. Apple says this process will result in improved picture quality without adjusting the TV's settings.

apple tv color balanceApple's demonstration image showing what the Color Balance feature can achieve.

Teoh found that in a number of cases Apple's calibration feature actually made color accuracy worse, even going as far as to incorrectly shift the color output of a high-end Sony mastering monitor.

When set to their most accurate out-of-the-box color presets, two of the three TVs Teoh tested had their color accuracy made worse. On a Samsung QLED TV, the overall color accuracy improved, but the image was incorrectly shifted to a cooler blue tone. On a Sony LED TV, the feature made the color accuracy worse and similarly made the image too blue. On an LG OLED TV, the calibration feature did manage to improve color accuracy without making the image too blue.

When the tests were re-run with the TV's default color presets, the ‌Apple TV‌'s calibration feature improved color accuracy on all three models. Even so, Teoh found that when color accuracy was improved, image quality was degraded in other ways. Since the ‌Apple TV‌ had to shift the color output so much in these instances, the resulting image suffered from unwanted color banding lines, known as posterization.

Teoh's tests indicate that the ‌Apple TV‌'s color calibration is certainly not a replacement for professional color calibration using specialized tools, and should be used with caution. AFTVnews suggests that users may be better off using the Color Balance feature to see how drastically it changes the TV's image, and then attempting to match the result using the TV's built-in color options.

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Top Rated Comments

69Mustang Avatar
20 months ago

Just to be clear his job is to professionally calibrate displays for money. I’m not saying he’s wrong just an important consideration.
It's not really a consideration at all. Anyone who is familiar with Vincent knows the integrity of his analysis. Vincent, with a razor sharp dry wit and copious double entendre, tells it like it is. He praises and criticizes with equal fervor. Well, as with as much fervor as his deadpan delivery will allow. Dude is well worth the sub for anyone looking for straight-shooting TV analysis.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
twennywonn Avatar
20 months ago
Just to be clear his job is to professionally calibrate displays for money. I’m not saying he’s wrong just an important consideration.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Maclver Avatar
20 months ago
Good thing Apple didn't say 100% of the TVs it's used on would show improvement... I feel that is why Apple gives you a comparison on your TV so you can make the decision for yourself.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
StrongArmmed Avatar
20 months ago
FTA: "When the tests were re-run with the TV's default color presets, the Apple TV's calibration feature improved color accuracy on all three models."

Wellll....the on-screen directions accompanying the feature advise that you should measure your TV in its base, default configuration. So, if one follows that simple yet important direction, there's a good chance that the color accuracy of your display will be improved.

Following directions. Go figure.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thadoggfather Avatar
20 months ago

Knew it. A gimmicky, flawed feature.
it cant be so ! people said blindly with total conviction it would put professional calibrators out of work and render tv picture settings menus futile
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BarredOwl Avatar
20 months ago
Knew it. A gimmicky, flawed feature.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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