THX has been at the forefront of getting consumers to calibrate their TVs for over a decade now. Starting with the THX Optimizer utility included on THX certified DVDs, the company has focused on simple-to-use tests that will give you a baseline calibration, with instructions so simple even grandma can do it.
With a growing number of people eschewing DVDs for digital media, though, THX has developed a new app called THX tune-up, currently available on iOS platforms, which accomplishes much the same goal.
Now you can tell the app what kind of TV you have, and it adjusts its output and expectations for plasma, projector, or LCD (CCD and LED backed). Sorry DLP fans — no love for you outside of the projector space. If you have one of the applicable display techs, though, the app then guides you through calibration, using elements in attractive photographs instead of test patterns as a baseline (the edge of a white plate on a white background for contrast, guide wires on a rainbow balloon for color). It’s clever, and easy to use and understand. Checking that your speakers are correctly wired and positioned is accomplished with the touch of an in-app, on-screen speaker.
If there’s anything wrong with THX tune-up, it’s that, right now, it’s only really useful if you have an AppleTV or a $30 video cable for your iOS device. The former can mirror an iOS device screen to the television, and the latter, well, is ludicrously pricey.
But if you have the means to get it on your TV, THX tune-up is a great and — for this week only — free way to give your TV a quick and portable calibration, but unless you already have the gear, you’re probably better off with a disc like Disney WOW: World of Wonder. After this week, the app shoots up to a whopping $1.99, so if you think it’ll be useful to you, get it while the getting’s good.