What is a contrast ratio?

KorKor Known to detonate from time to timeRegistered User regular
My wife and I are planning on buying an HDTV with our tax return this year, and we went shopping around for HDTVs at a few electronic stores.

We decided on a size and a few other things, but one thing sorta had me baffeled.


2 LG 47" TVs there were identical in every 1, but two. The contrast ratio and 500 dollars.

1 was 6000:1, and 1450. The other was 10,000:1, and 1900.

Unfortunately, they had on some shitty advertisements, so I couldn't actually see a difference, and was hoping you guys could help me out, and tell me if its worth it.

Honestly, if you know of any other cheaper places for an HDTV, that'd be great, too.

We're looking for anything 47" or larger, with ATLEAST 2 HDMI ports, 2 Component ports, and 2 S-Video ports.

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Posts

  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Contrast ratio is basically saying how bright white appears compared to black. So White is 6000x brighter than black on the first TV, and 10,000 times brighter than black on the second TV. Generally speaking the higher the number the better, same with brightness.

    The next set of numbers are (I assume) brightness values. TV one is not as bright as TV 2.

    However

    Those numbers look so high they're probably referring to Dynamic Contrast where if a dark image is displayed, the backlight is dimmed to make it look even darker, or if a bright image is displayed the backlight is brightened to make it look brighter.

    For reference, a movie at a theatre has a 500:1 contrast ratio.

    Rook on
  • KorKor Known to detonate from time to time Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Sorry no, the 2nd set of numbers was price. :P Forgot my dollar signs.

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  • ApostateApostate Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Don't get too worked up anymore about contrast ratios. There was a time they mattered and were a useful statistic. Almost all displays now are good enough were the differences are much more minor. Combine that with the fact that each manufacturer uses different methods in measuring them so it's a bit useless.

    My advice is read reviews and let your own eye judge what display looks better.

    Ask yourself some questions like:
    Are the colors natural?
    Is the black dark and not a charcoal grey?
    Can you see fine detail?
    Can the TV display a range of colors on screen without the color "banding?"

    Be aware most TVs in stores have contrast and brightness levels up way too high. You may want to fiddle with them, if you are able, to get a better sense of what the TV can do.

    Apostate on
  • AbsoluteZeroAbsoluteZero The new film by Quentin Koopantino Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Contrast Ratios are bullshit numbers. It is not a standardized measurement, and no two companies make their contrast ration measurements the same. It is not uncommon for these companies to fudge the process in order to produce a bigger number. It is marketing bullshit meant to fool the consumer, and not much more. Pay no attention to it.

    AbsoluteZero on
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  • KorKor Known to detonate from time to time Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    thanks guys, I did a bit more shopping around and found this.

    I think its the first TV I don't feel I'm getting screwed on.

    Kor on
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  • ApostateApostate Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Kor wrote: »
    thanks guys, I did a bit more shopping around and found this.

    I think its the first TV I don't feel I'm getting screwed on.

    The Sharp Aquos line is very nice. If you can, make sure you can see that model in a store. The one thing that I have found with Sharp's is there black levels tend to be a little greyer than other manufacturers. Some people could care less but others really like dark, dark blacks. It's main effect is when you have the lights out watching a movie.

    Apostate on
  • maximumzeromaximumzero I...wait, what? New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Apostate wrote: »
    Kor wrote: »
    thanks guys, I did a bit more shopping around and found this.

    I think its the first TV I don't feel I'm getting screwed on.

    The Sharp Aquos line is very nice. If you can, make sure you can see that model in a store. The one thing that I have found with Sharp's is there black levels tend to be a little greyer than other manufacturers. Some people could care less but others really like dark, dark blacks. It's main effect is when you have the lights out watching a movie.

    Excellent TV. We actually just sold the floor model of that yesterday.

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  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2008
    I'll also post to tell you that if you see a Samsung on sale that you might want to at least consider it. Play with the menu settings and see what it can do, because that's how I fell in love with mine.

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  • AbsoluteZeroAbsoluteZero The new film by Quentin Koopantino Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    If you like Samsung, you might consider saving some cash and getting an Emerson. They source their panels from Samsung.

    AbsoluteZero on
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  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2008
    Yes but the store I like to buy expensive things from doesn't have Emerson. See, they're this really great local shop with their own in-town repair depot that's fully licensed by pretty much every manufacturer so you get great turn around on repairs and they have phenomenal customer service and I got an 18 month financing plan with no fees and no interest, a deal on the mounting bracket, and the TV was $300 off.

    I stand by my purchase.

    Although yeah if Emerson sources their LCDs from Samsung then that might be a good thing for the OP to check out.

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  • DigDug2000DigDug2000 Registered User
    edited January 2008
    Contrast Ratios are bullshit numbers. It is not a standardized measurement, and no two companies make their contrast ration measurements the same. It is not uncommon for these companies to fudge the process in order to produce a bigger number. It is marketing bullshit meant to fool the consumer, and not much more. Pay no attention to it.
    This is true, although I don't think people bullshit them. Since CR is basically a ratio, you can make it bigger by increasing the amount of light put out when the screen is white, or by decreasing the amount of light seen when it is black. Both are good things, but making things put out less light is easier that producing more. So most of the high HIGH ratios you will find are from people making the blacks blacker, which at some point is kinda useless. I don't think anyone out there is producing affordable home TV's with really white whites. So most CR numbers you see aren't saying anything really.

    DigDug2000 on
  • GihgehlsGihgehls Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I can't imagine running my TV at full brightness like that. As Rook said, contrast ratio at a movie theatre is only 500:1 or so anyway, and when you adjust your set to a comfortable level, your ratio will probably be even lower.

    Gihgehls on
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  • FaricazyFaricazy Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    You guys are...weird.

    You're telling me that stuff like this:

    http://gizmodo.com/341434/battlemodo-pioneer-super+black-kuro-concept-duels-best-tv-ever-and-wins

    is useless? what?

    Faricazy on
  • ApostateApostate Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Faricazy wrote: »
    You guys are...weird.

    You're telling me that stuff like this:

    http://gizmodo.com/341434/battlemodo-pioneer-super+black-kuro-concept-duels-best-tv-ever-and-wins

    is useless? what?

    That's more of an issue with black level than contrast. As I posted before, lousy black level can make a real difference in a dark environment like when you are watching a movie. While it can effect contrast numbers, the black level is a very different metric.

    Apostate on
  • FaricazyFaricazy Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Manufacturers are all working towards making sets with better black levels, and those sets will have much better contrast. I fail to see how the measurement is useless.

    It shouldn't be taken on its own but it is not useless.

    Faricazy on
  • AbsoluteZeroAbsoluteZero The new film by Quentin Koopantino Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Faricazy wrote: »
    Manufacturers are all working towards making sets with better black levels, and those sets will have much better contrast. I fail to see how the measurement is useless.

    It shouldn't be taken on its own but it is not useless.

    It is useless because it is non standardized, meaning you can not compare the measurements between brands.

    AbsoluteZero on
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  • GihgehlsGihgehls Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Yeah it's like if I measured my dick in inches, but didn't tell you that they were special inches from another dimension.

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  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2008
    "if"?

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  • GihgehlsGihgehls Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    I measure it in centimeters, so I get a larger number.

    Gihgehls on
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  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2008
    I happen to know of a certain individual who is rather impressed with his penis size, particularly the girth. He has measured this. He will walk up to women at the bar and tell them the girth. He will just be all "x inches" and wander off.

    This of course leaves the women puzzled and often certain that they have in some manner been violated, though they're not quite sure how.

    He doesn't go home with women from the bar very often.

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  • The Reverend Dr GalactusThe Reverend Dr Galactus Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    That was a nice story.

    Regarding the technological challenges of black levels:

    While it is easier to make a backlight darker than lighter, the difficulty comes in making the LCD occlude more of that backlight when it is lighter. You can fudge a contrast ratio by using dynamic backlighting, turning it down when there's more black in the picture and turning it up when there's less, but for perhaps the majority of panels, the backlight would need to go dark enough as to gray out any white areas to give the appearance of pure black.

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  • KorKor Known to detonate from time to time Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Okay, can someone explain this to me please?

    1 product, same exact model... yet look at the contrast ratio's on each page.:

    CompUSA - 10,000:1

    vs

    Newegg 2000:1

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  • stigweardstigweard Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    The answer is on the second link:

    "The 16:9 ASV LCD Panel has a native Contrast Ratio of 2000:1 and a Dynamic Contrast Ratio of 10,000:1, with enhanced picture technology for unparalleled picture quality."

    Dynamic contrast ratio uses a technique that is found frequently in lcd monitors. Essentially, it shifts the range of the contrast / black point dynamically in real time by varying the output power of the back light. This way, darker scenes get a darker black point, with a loss in maximum brightness (eg: blown highlights). On the first models, it used to make an annoying flicker, almost like a low refresh rate.

    stigweard on
  • KorKor Known to detonate from time to time Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    But this is still the same TV right?

    I mean, if I bought one from either link, I'm getting the exact same features and everything?

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  • stigweardstigweard Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Yes, exactly. One site decided to be honest, and show both the static and dynamic contrast ratios, while the other only shows the higher value because people are stupid and think bigger is always better.

    stigweard on
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