TV Contrast Ratio

The TV Contrast ratio in High Definition TVs is the amount of screen details that you would see in dark color, especially blacks. TV contrast ratio is a measure of the difference between the brightest of whites and the darkest of blacks that are shown on any display being viewed, and displays may show a lot of details in darker images or present it as a uniform dark color. The image that shows greater detail has a better contrast ratio and this is the sort of image that a discerning viewer must look for when examining displays on HD TVs that he or she is proposing to buy.

Contrast Ratios Explained

A TV contrast ratio of 2,500:1 indicates that the brightest white is 2,500 times brighter than the darkest black. TV manufacturers also indicate two types of contrast ratios; static or dynamic. In a static contrast ratio, the ratio of the brightest to the darkest is measured for a single image displayed on the screen. A dynamic contrast ratio, on the other hand, would measure these for several different images. Thus, the dynamic contrast ratio can be quite different and is a much higher value than a static contrast ratio. The reason for the difference is obvious. Images that are taken would generally have an ambient light condition that can vary from bright sunlight to dark night images taken in artificial or reflected light. The bright sunlight images would show very bright whites, whereas the blacks in that image would still have part of the ambient light and therefore not be so contrasting. So when the comparison is made between whites and blacks taken from different images where the ambient light may be almost non-existent, the contrast would be much higher.

Problems In Contrast Ratio Measurements

Unfortunately, no standard method of measurement in the industry and each HDTV manufacturer has their own way of arriving at these ratios. So for a consumer comparing contrast ratios, whether static or dynamic, for different manufacturers could lead to error in judgment. It is more correct to compare these ratios for different models of the same manufacturer if such ratios are to be considered as indicators for buying an HDTV. And one must be clear on whether the ratios mentioned are static or dynamic, as there is always a vast difference between these two.

So what does a prospective buyer do when he or she walks into the showroom of a well known manufacturer? There would be thousands of models that this particular manufacturer makes which could include a whole range of HDTVs. The customer can always ask for the contrast ratios which would usually be displayed in the literature of each model. The customer may be window shopping and would visit the showrooms of other makers of HDTVs. In that case, making direct comparisons can only add to the confusion.

The best thing to do would be to directly compare the images on the displays of each model and see which makes the most visual impact. You should check to verify whether the model concerned fits his or her budget and proceed with the purchase. Also check on the service facilities and other advice that you receive as these could become vital in the future. Use the contrast ratios only as a guide and not for arriving at the final decision. More information on this, and other HDTV topics, can be found on our learning center.