This Chrismas day, many people will be turning on their new gadgets: Tablets, smartphones, laptops, and televisions. Granted, many of us don't even really use televisions any more, unless it is to project whatever we're streaming from the Internet. And lots of others just don't bother watching anything unless they do it on a laptop or tablet. But if you're like us, you know and love good televisions, and what it is to plug in and customize your settings just the way you like them.
One problem: In 2012 there are so many different settings -- with different names depending on the manufacturer -- that it can get pretty complicated. That's why we headed down to CNET's TV testing facility in Manhattan, and asked David Katzmaier, senior editor, to help us out. The publication's testing procedures are pretty thorough -- as you might guess from reading Katzmaier's notes. But we wanted to ask him about something specific: The Soap Opera Effect. You know, that thing where your fancy new LED or HDTV makes everything look like As the World Turns?
If you haven't witnessed the soap opera effect yet, you probably will soon. Its other name is motion-smoothing, and it's apparently a process that endeavors to make your hi-def content look even better by taking the 24 frames-per-second standard and refreshing it more quickly for a cleaner, clearer effect. This kind of thing works great for sports, but for movies? Yeeech.
Marketplace Tech producer Ben Johnson says when he headed to the theater recently to watch "The Hobbit"-- a movie that tried to accomplish some more impressive motion-smoothing by shooting at twice the frame rate -- the soap opera effect was in full effect. But he also says some of the scenes, especially darker scenes that didn't have a ton of action in them and were more lanscape oriented, looked kind of fantastic.
The problem with a new television of course is that if you're anything like us, you'll want to change the setting on that new TV as soon as possibe, unless you're an all sports, all the time kind of person. That's what Katzmaier helped us with. Click the audio player above to hear how to go about changing those settings.