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:


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.

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