How to Avoid Overscan On Your TV

Few people realise it, but most TVs are cutting off the edge of the picture by default which distorts the picture and can soften the image. This is known as Overscan, but it can be easily avoided. In fact, the good news is, that it is actually very easy to deal with overscan in just a few easy steps.




What is Overscan?

Overscan is when the edges of the television picture are cut off. It stems from years ago when there was little to no consistency in terms of image sizes. Often broadcasters would have information stamped along the edges of film and no-one wanted viewers to see this. The solution was to make sure that this was cut off by zooming in or overscanning the picture. The usually only trims the outer edges, but on occasion you might notice something important being chopped off.

Avoid Overscan On Your TV
Avoid Overscan On Your TV

Now that we are in the digital era of high definition and the like, there is really no reason for any television to need overscan enable. However, it has pretty much become so much of a habit that it is the default setting on most screens.

How Can You Fix Overscan?

Each different television manufacturer will have a different name and location for the overscan settings, but if you know the general process then you should be able to figure out how to change the settings on your own television. Some of the most common names for the setting include:

  • Size
  • Wide
  • Screen Fit
  • Screen Fill
  • Aspect Ratio
  • Format

Once you find the appropriate settings menu, you will want to change the setting to ‘1×1 Pixel Mapping. Once again, the name this is under may vary from on manufacturer to the next. It could be called something like ‘full’, ‘fit’ or even ‘dot by dot’. If you cannot see any of these and you are unsure of which one is 1×1, then you should use trial and error to see which setting shows the most of the picture! With a handful of televisions (definitely on Sony and Panasonic models), once you find the correct setting you may also have to choose from a number of different size options within that setting.

Is It Really a Big Deal?

So, now that you know roughly how to go about fixing overscan, you might be asking yourself whether or not it is actually that big of a deal! There is no cut and dried answer to that question. On the one hand, shutting off the overscan mode is going to offer a very slight improvement in the picture you are seeing. However, for many consumers this is a matter of principle. If you are paying for a particular resolution then overscan will reduce that slightly which does not seem right, does it? If you check out the information for your directv or cable package, for example like the information at http://satellitepackages.net/directv-packages.html, then you should be able to see whether your subscription is for HD content or not.

In rare occasions, overscan can have the effect of chopping off something important, usually this will be subtitles or a menu bar. If you happen to be using you television as a computer monitor, then overscan is probably going to be much more of an issue as it could cut of section of the web page that is being viewed.
Overscan can be frustrating, but it is also very easy to over ride if you choose to do so.
Image Source: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/lcd-plasma-screen-watch-door-red-television-presentation-photo-1526643
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