In many articles with advice and tips we often talk about the contrast ratio, and manufacturers are also only too happy to show impressive figures when it comes to the contrast of an LCD or plasma TV. But, what exactly is the contrast ratio of a TV and do you actually still benefit from all the figures that manufacturers give you?
What is the contrast ratio of a TV?
Simply put, the contrast ratio is the difference between the lightest and darkest elements of the screen, or between white and black. The amount of color tones that are between white and black is used to indicate the ratio. For example, a contrast ratio of 1,000: 1 means that there are 1,000 different color tones between the whitest white and the blackest black. Higher contrast ratios produce whiter whites and deeper blacks and a greater amount of grays in between. In a dark scene in a film, you can see the difference between a low contrast and a high contrast by looking at the details that are visible in a jacket or on a wall. The more details in the dark area, the higher the contrast.
Use contrast ratio by manufacturers
The contrast ratio is one of the most commonly used specifications by manufacturers to distinguish models from each other. Nowadays we see the contrast ratios even grow to impressive numbers like 10,000,000: 1. There is also the problem of the contrast ratio. There are several ways to measure these, which can mislead consumers and make comparing contrast ratios virtually impossible.
Static or dynamic?
A contrast ratio can be measured dynamically or statically and which leads to misalignments. A TV with a ratio of 2,000: 1 can be statically measured while a TV with a ratio of 20,000: 1 can be measured dynamically. It is impossible to say which TV now has a better contrast ratio as the methods used are completely different. As an average consumer, you do not need to know the exact technical differences between a dynamic and a static contrast. All you need to know is whether the contrast that a manufacturer shows is dynamic or static so that you can at least make a (somewhat) fairer comparison between two products.
Yet it can still be misleading
As the title above indicates, you are not finished with this and you can still easily be misled or make a choice based on inaccuracies. The reason for this is that there is no single standard within the TV industry to measure this contrast ratio. Without a standard, we do not know exactly how a manufacturer measures the contrast ratio of a TV and how this process differs from how another manufacturer measures it.
Advice for use contrast ratio
The question now is of course; can you still take a contrast ratio into account and can you compare TVs on that basis? The answer to this is yes, but limited. Most experts agree that a static contrast ratio gives the most reliable results since the measurement method used for this assumes a realistic situation. However, it is not wise to directly compare a TV from manufacturer A with a static contrast ratio and a TV from manufacturer B with a static contrast ratio, precisely for the above reason of using different measurement methods. However, you can compare two models from the same manufacturer; so a Panasonic with a Panasonic and a Sony with a Sony. Make sure you compare static with static and dynamic with dynamic.
It must be said that the contrast ratio is only one of the important elements of a TV on which your choice should be based. And since the measurements are still not reliable and standardized, the contrast ratio shouldn’t be high on your list of important features.