Why Are Images from My TV Different if I Use Apps on the TV or my Apple TV?

I was watching something I had ripped on Plex recently, and I noticed that it looked a bit faded, muted, even veiled when I streamed it through the Plex app on my Apple TV 4K, compared to streaming it through the Plex app on my TV. I thought that, perhaps, the app itself had some way of rendering the colors and sharpness that was different on the two devices.

Then I tried some other apps, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The output from each source was very different. With Netflix, the TV looks a lot muddier than when I stream from the Apple TV, and with Amazon Prime Video, the colors are very different.

Here’s an example, from the beginning of the first episode of Person of Interest. I took this photo of the image streamed via the Apple TV app:

Apple tv

And here’s the same scene from the Amazon app on my TV:

Tv

Checking my TV’s settings, I made sure that the settings apply to all sources. The Apple TV shouldn’t change much; you can choose whether it plays HDR and either 50 or 60 Hz, but neither of these settings made a difference. There’s also a color gamut setting, but that didn’t make any difference either.

The color cast difference in the two photos above is quite striking, and much more of a difference than what I saw from Plex. The brightness and saturation are also very different.

Does anyone know why I’m seeing such a difference in colors, sharpness, and contrast between the two? Theoretically, these apps should be sending the same data regardless of source.

Yet another reason why I hate TVs.

0 thoughts on “Why Are Images from My TV Different if I Use Apps on the TV or my Apple TV?

  1. You have a cable that fully supports HDMI 2.0a connecting the Apple TV and the TV? Alternatively, is the Apple TV plugged into a HDMI 2.0a port on the TV? Some TVs (and A/V receivers) don’t support HDMI 2.0a/b on all ports.

    • Yes, my TV has three HDMI ports, all 2.0a. My cable is fine; it’s the same one I use on a 4K Blu-Ray drive, and that works fine (Amazon’s high-speed cable).

  2. The BT2020 profile is being triggered in the second picture. I believe it’s my Samsung TV that triggers this but could be device dependent.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.