From the Magazine

How to Easily Upgrade Your TV, Computer, and Tablet for Free

With technology advancing at lightning speed, it can feel overwhelming (and pricey!) to keep up with the latest and greatest. Luckily, we’ve rounded up a few pro DIY tricks can make your current electronics work better than ever!  

Smart TVs: Get the best picture

New televisions now come with endless picture-quality options beyond the factory default, which is often dim and muted. But paying professional calibration services can cost hundreds. Luckily, you can fine-tune it yourself via the TV’s settings menu and exploring “Picture Options.” For a brighter picture, experts recommend selecting Sports or Vivid mode. For the most realistic picture, select Movie or Cinema mode. (Be sure to select “Overscan” so you see the full intended image without the edges cropped off.)

Also smart: When displaying a new flat-screen TV, think about the viewers’ average height when seated, says home builder Jim Burnside: “The best picture quality occurs when the center third of the screen hovers at eye level.”

Computers: Automate updates

Nowadays, gadgets can upgrade while we sleep. “But 99 percent of laptop owners don’t take easy steps to keep their computers running optimally,” says Jamie Cambell, Ph.D., a cyber security expert for GoBestVPN. “In terms of security, it’s like plugging a leak. If you don’t update your devices, the security hole remains open. And bugs can often drain your power more quickly because the code isn’t optimized.” To stay secure, turn on “Auto update” in the Control Panel or Settings menu.

Also smart: Remove all the junk software (aka “bloatware”) preinstalled by manufacturers. It’ll save operating power and make the device run faster. Launch the Control Panel on your computer desktop, view the list of programs, and delete any you don’t need.

Tablets: Clear digital clutter

To give a sluggish tablet new life, clear the app cache — the collections of unneeded data files apps download and store on your tablet over time. “You’ll immediately notice it’s faster and much more responsive,” says Andrew Moore-Crispin of Ting Mobile Service. And rest assured, this will not clear other data like logins or saved games. 

On an iPad: Browser apps are an ideal place to declutter. (Imagine all those open browser windows stacking up like a pile of pancakes.) To clear, select Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data. 

On an Android: Go to Settings > Applications. Tap on any apps taking up a lot of space, then select Storage > Clear Cache.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.  

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