After six months of running the Xbox One X on my old Samsung screen – which was a decade old and bought when 1080p sets were considered “luxury” over the 720p versions – I finally took the plunge and moved up to a 4K set.
So now there’s a nice sparkling new Samsung Q7 taking the place of the old and soon after plugging it all in I quickly realised there’s a whole lot more involved in getting this set up over the old television. Despite best efforts, the Xbox One isn’t going to “just work” perfectly after plugging in… Well, it will be close but needs a bit of help to be at its best.
From this I’ve learned a few things so far that might be useful for anyone else going through a similar process and these are listed below. Please note that the experience is likely to vary for users of different model TVs but I’d imagine there will be plenty of similarities.
1. Upgrade your TV’s firmware immediately
Most modern TVs are of the smart variety and have a raft of software driving them so that they can better support new features and standards as they evolve. In the case of my Q7 it was still running a firmware version that was well before the Xbox One X launch so both the TV and console had trouble identifying each other and the features they supported.
Taking the time early on to get the TV upgraded helped save a lot of unnecessary troubleshooting as it fixed many of my issues in getting the two to recognise each other. For the TV it meant that both my Xbox One X and 360 were automatically identified with settings like game mode (which optimises the display to favour speed over quality) enabled by default. From the Xbox One X side it could now successful identify the capabilities of the TV and allow further tweaking of the output.
I think it ended up taking me about 2-3 hours to get it all working the way I wanted with the majority of time spent trying to download the firmware update but once it was done the rest of the setup was much simpler.
2. HDR may need to be enabled manually
Before the Q7 would even accept an HDR signal, the HDMI connection to the Xbox One X needed to have that feature enabled. With the TV able to identify what was plugged into which connector the process was straightforward enough once you realised what had to be done.
It was a surprise to me that this was even necessary as I’d have thought that it would be an automatic process – switching it off should be the only reason you need to mess around with this not the other way around.
3. Tweak the console’s display settings
By this stage the Xbox should be autodetecting the TV and its feature set so when you go into settings all of the 4K requirements are ticked off. Newer TVs likely support better colour depths for HDR but it looks like the Xbox One will stick with the default (8-bit) even though it identified the Q7’s capabilities as supporting 10-bit colour depth. Some TV models can even go up to 12-bit colour depth.
This change is also a quick one to make and once again I’m questioning why it is even required to do considering the Xbox was more than able to correctly identify the TV.
4. Final adjustments to the TV
After all of that you should now be at the point where it’s all just preferential settings such as adjusting the brightness, backlight, etc. There are some arguments about having the brightness turned right up while avoiding any “eco mode” settings to ensure the picture is consistently the best and brightest you can get from the screen but if you’re regularly watching content in a darkened room that might be overkill.
For me, I found that it was just too bright for the room it was going to be used in so turning it down a fraction was enough to get a satisfying picture without fear of permanent blindness. Results of course may vary depending on your own conditions.
5. Game on!
There’s no shortage of titles now on Xbox One that support the X’s extra horsepower from Forza Horizon 3 to The Witcher 3 to Elite Dangerous to PUBG. Most new releases have some level of 4K support for both Xbox and PlayStation so the games are only going to look better.
Once in a while we even get a few backward compatible titles that push the 4K envelope such as the 360’s Red Dead Redemption and Halo 3. Original Xbox titles aren’t being left out either with Crimson Skies and Panzer Dragoon Orta never looking better. There’s a lot to like and for long time Xbox fans, they may not even need to pay a cent if they still have the discs.
Now that I’ve finally got a TV that’s a match for the console I really can say it’s an impressive combination. I’ve been playing games, watching 4K Blu-ray titles and a lot of Netflix and have not been disappointed with the results.
It still hasn’t helped me get a chicken dinner in PUBG but I think it may have proven that it’s definitely not the technology that’s the problem..