Why Does My TV Look Blurry? (11 Surprising Fixes)

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Why Does My TV Look Blurry? (11 Surprising Fixes)

Why Does My TV Look Blurry

Your TV looks blurry because of either an incorrect aspect ratio, a lower default resolution setting, a lower bitrate or sharpness setting, an older HDMI cable that isn’t high speed, a blur reduction/motion setting that should/shouldn’t be toggled on, electrical interference, or the TV’s panel itself could be failing.


Issues can sometimes arise out of nowhere with a TV’s picture quality.

Maybe you even got a new TV, but suddenly experienced a lack of image clarity.

There’s many potential reasons why — ranging from a low sharpness setting, to a defective HDMI port.

A fuzzy image could even be caused by a faulty outlet from my experience over the years.

So lets go over why your picture quality might not be looking the way it should, and ways to potentially fix it!


Reasons Why Your TV Might Appear Blurry & How To Fix Your Image

1). The Aspect Ratio Somehow Changed

The first thing that could have potentially happened is the aspect ratio was changed somehow.

If the aspect ratio was changed in your settings, you may have to change it to a more suitable one.

To give a little context beforehand so you understand how, aspect ratio is basically a comparison between the height and width of the TV’s picture, represented as a ratio.

This ratio between the 2 on screen dimensions helps to standardize content creation for those screens.

Modern televisions have an aspect ratio of 16:9 inches whereas movies are often filmed at a 21:9 ratio.

So for that movie to fit the screen, there needs to be black boxes at the top and bottom (known as letter boxes)

Older shows however were created through a 4:3 aspect ratio.

In order for those shows to work on a modern screen, vertical black bars are placed on each side of the screen (called pillar boxes.)

The reason I’m explaining this is because some cable boxes and even TVs allow you to adjust the image by using a number of different aspect ratios.

However if it somehow got changed, or your current aspect ratio wasn’t compatible with the content you were watching, then it could have an unwanted effect on your picture quality.

This come in the form of the content itself looking stretched out or the opposite; the content appearing too small for your display.

So try changing it to a 16:9 ratio to see if that help your image quality to not look blurry or stretched since that’s the standard one used on modern TVs.

However if it still looks off, then using a different aspect ratio may help with this.

If not, it could be another issue entirely.



2). The Resolution Might Be Set Low

Another potential reason why your picture quality looks soft is there’s an incorrect resolution setting that’s causing the image to look bad.

To preface what I mean by that so you have an idea of how to fix this, we have to understand what resolution is.

An HD television has a maximum resolution of 1080×1920 pixels, meaning there’s 1080 pixels in height and 1920 pixels in width.

A modern 4K TV meanwhile, has a larger amount of pixels with a maximum native resolution of 2160×3840 height and width wise.

While this increase in pixels results in better clarity, if the devices you connect to your TV aren’t set to the correct resolution, you won’t see it.

In that case, your TV and/or those devices connected will internally upscale the image to fit the display.

So that upscaled image itself might appear blurry when forced to fit your screen.

This is especially if the original resolution is set below the TVs full capability.

For example if the TV or device is set to 480p in the resolution settings, the upscaled image is going to look blurry on a larger display up close.

So to fix this, make sure that the highest resolution settings are always applied with whatever device you’re using.

That goes for both the TV and the device so that you get the best clarity that they’re capable of.

Keep in mind this applies to streaming too, as some services may launch with a default visual setting that’s lower than what your TV can actually do.

So if you’re wondering why your movie streaming quality almost looks out of focus, good chance that could be why.

Keep in mind too that the quality of the upscaling technology itself plays a sizeable factor in the picture quality you experience.

That’s because the upscaling quality can vary from each device.

Of course it’s also possible that a fuzzy TV screen/picture could be the result of a faulty HDMI cable, the display being set on the wrong input, or even a failing panel too.



3). The Birate Might Be Too Low If You’re Streaming

Something else you’ll also want to be sure of is that you’re using the highest bitrate that your internet can handle while streaming content.

The higher the bitrate, the more clarity your screen might seem to show, even at the same resolution.

So if you notice that your content doesn’t look as clear as you think it should, a lower bitrate setting could be a potential reason why the screen appears grainy.

This becomes especially apparent if you have a bigger display or are seated closer to the display.

To fix this, try raising the bitrate setting to the maximum your internet can handle, so that the streamed image appears as crisp as possible.

Also keep in mind that different apps have different bitrate settings — so one streaming app could by default, be set on a lower setting compared to another.


4). Your Sharpness Setting Could Be Set Too Low

Something I’ve previously talked about that has a pretty big effect on your picture quality is the sharpness setting.

The proper sharpness setting can definitely add to the depth of an image.

However if it’s set too low or too high, this can diminish image fidelity by making it either too sharp or the opposite.

In fact, it’s often recommended that setting this to 0 is best.

From my experience though, this isn’t always the case.

Occasionally some TVs will actually introduce some element of blurring to the image when sharpness is turned off.

So my recommendation is setting it at 20 percent of the sharpness range and going 1 click above or below that point.

For example, if the sharpness on your TV goes to 20, setting it at 4 and turning the sharpness up to 5 or down to 3 would likely provide the best result.

I’ll caveat that by saying every TV is different so that setting could be different in your case.

But I’ve personally found that starting at a click above or below 20 percent of the sharpness range always gave me a good balance between granularity and clarity in my TV’s picture quality.

Also if there are any settings specifically tied to sharpness like edge enhancement, try disabling it in the settings since this may be altering the picture in an undesirable way.



5). Too Close Of A Seating Position

Another thing that can affect your perception of how sharp the image looks is sitting too close to the screen.

If your home theater seating is too close, then things might also seem a little fuzzy, (especially if sat too close to a larger screen)

Getting your seating placement right is important for not only experiencing the best sound, but getting the best picture quality as well.

Furthermore, the size of the screen plays a factor into this too as a bigger screen is going to likely require you sitting a little further back so things don’t look out of focus.

So you could also try by moving your seating back a bit to see if that helps with how it looks to your eyes.

But if you’re unsure what distance you should sit, don’t fret.

To figure out the best seating position for the right amount of screen clarity, this awesome seating calculator can help you determine exactly that.




6). Using An Older Cable Type

If you’re using an older cable like an analog, composite, or even component cable in your setup, you could be limiting your resolution capabilities.

HDMI will give the best clarity due to its much higher bandwidth.

Using an older cable will likely result in a less clear image since they can’t transfer as much digital information as an HDMI cable could.

An older cable would only be capable of a lower resolution, which wouldn’t look as good on a larger display especially since there’s more area within your view.

So upgrading to HDMI may be helpful in that regard.



7). The Wrong Type Of HDMI Is Being Used

The HDMI itself also matters because if you use a lower bandwidth HDMI cable on a 4K TV, you’re going to be limited to a lower resolution (1080P at the max)

This will obviously limit the potential of what your TV is actually capable of, and may

A cable labeled high speed will have a 18 gigabytes per second bandwidth.

That means it can do 4k resolution at 60 frames per second at its maximum in content.

Ultra high speed, or HDMI 2.1, allows for 48 gigabytes per second.

This allows for 8K resolutions at 60 frames which is a lot more information comparatively.

To put it simply, using a high speed HDMI cable is an awesome option since you’ll get the highest resolution for your TV, and they’re backwards compatible.

That means they can still be used with lower resolution displays.

Check Availability Of Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable



8) .The HDMI Cable Could Be Faulty Or Damaged

There’s also the possibility that the HDMI cable could be faulty, which could result in your picture quality not looking so great.

This could come in the way of frayed wire strands, or bends in the wire that may have caused the wiring inside to break.

So check the wire to make sure there aren’t any tears or bends in it.

Seeing as how this is the component directly responsible for properly carrying the video signal, any damage to the wire can disrupt the signal and affect image quality.


9). A Faulty HDMI Port Could Be The Issue

Following on from that last point, it’s possible that the HDMI port is faulty which would be the reason your content doesn’t look the way it should.

A faulty port could cause the signal to be interrupted if it’s damaged, or it could cause the screen it to glitch in some way.

In this case, try switching the port and even the cable to see if that helps.



10). Check If Any Motion Or Specialized Image Settings Are Enabled

TVs will often come enabled with all sorts of settings for image quality, however sometimes they can have the opposite effect.

Check if any settings with motion, film grain, noise reduction, blur reduction, or something similar in the name are enabled/disabled — and try toggling them on or off.

Some of these settings may make a TV’s picture look realistic and might be something some prefer.

In other instances it may even make things look worse.

I keep saying every display is different but it’s something I’ve certainly found to be true over the years especially when it comes to settings.

I’ve seen displays where these settings sometimes help, and others where they don’t.

So try toggling them on or off to see if they help with your image clarity.

Also, using a different color temperature mode could help the image’s overall fidelity.


11). The TV Display Could Be Experiencing Interference Somehow

Something that may be causing that degradation in your picture quality is your TV could be experiencing electrical interference from a device that’s close to it.

This could be causing your television’s picture to distort or lose clarity.

This could be caused by any number of things including the outlet it’s plugged into.

So to fix this, change where the TV is plugged in to see if that helps the issue.

If changing where the TV is plugged in helps, then you’ll know there was some element of interference happening.

Or it’s also possible that whatever it was plugged into could have been faulty.

To add to that, a surge protector in particular can help with this as its specialized circuitry can help mitigate any extraneous electricity.

I know I’ve had this happen before, and in my case a surge protector did actually help.

Also, If you’re using satellite TV, then make sure that the dish itself doesn’t have debris or stuff on it.

That can directly impact the image quality of your content due to the signal possibly not being as strong.

Check Availability Of Surge Protector Power Strip




Additional Potential Reason: The TV Itself Could Be Failing

Depending on the television’s age, it could be possible that the TV itself is failing meaning it could be time to replace the panel.

How long a TV lasts depends on a number of factors including usage, humidity, quality, etc.

However I’ve found picture quality start to diminish after year 8 typically.

This time period could always be longer or shorter, but if you notice things aren’t looking how they use to, this could be a reason.

It also depends on the backlighting approach the TV uses itself too.

This is known as local dimming, and there’s various types of local dimming.

This basically allows the panel to adjust parts of the image based on what’s on screen.

The more dimming zones it has, the more accurate it tends to be.

If you find yourself asking why does my TV picture look cloudy and unclear, it’s always possible that the TV’s local dimming zones aren’t functioning properly or have become more pronounced over time.

This can even present itself in the form of blooming with fewer dimming zones making this more pronounced.

Though blooming can be prevented and minimized, this only applies to LED TVs since they have light bulbs inside.

Other TVs like OLEDs don’t experience this since they don’t have a backlight.

If you do think it might be time to replace your display though, these two are awesome TVs in my opinion.

Check Availability Of LG B2 Series 55 inch OLED TV


Check Availability Of Samsung Q60A Series QLED TV


They do a great job with color vibrancy, picture quality, and have some pretty amazing HDR too.

Here are other TVs I’ve found to be pretty incredible with regard to image clarity too.

The Best TVs



Final Thoughts

Those are some the reasons why things might not be looking they way they should.

But hopefully the information talked about here helps remedy the issue.

I know how important getting a good picture quality is, however there’s things we unknowingly do that can dramatically affect the clarity we ultimately experience.

Luckily, unless the TV panel itself is degrading, there’s usually a way to improve the way your content looks.

That’s about it for this one though.

Until next time, make it easy, keep it simple!

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