How important is contrast ratio?

hey guys,
So im thinking about buying this budget model LCD (vizio 42" 1080p) Here is the costco link:"&Mo=0&cm_re=1_en--Top_Left_Nav--Top_search&lang=en-US&Nr=P_CatalogName:BC&Sp=S&N=5000043&whse=BC&Dx=mode+matchallpartial&Ntk=Text_Search&Dr=P_CatalogName:BC&Ne=4000000&D=vizio%2042%22&Ntt=vizio%2042%22&No=0&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Nty=1&topnav=&s=1

How important though is contrast ratio? this tv has only 1000:1 and i always thought the rule of thumb is to get nothing less than 10,000: 1. This tv is relatively cheap so if anyone has any experience with it please share. I’m surprise a 1080p lcd is so cheap but am thinking that this is so because of the low contrast ratio.

Thanks for the help!

There is no “Standard” for contrast ratio measurements. In short, the numbers mean nothing. “Brightness: 500 cd/m2” might have more value for comparisons, but it’s still just another manufacturer’s hype. Best option is to go look at it and see if it might be alright for you.

FWIF, for the same money you can have a number of different top-brand Plasma 720p monitors that may very well out-perform this LCD.

A higher contrast ration will allow you to see it in a bright room without dimming or closing the blinds. Most Vizio’s have a 8ms. latency rate and that is more important. I personally think 8ms is too high and is noticeable in high action moviesLatency is the time it takes to turn o and off the pixel, the bigger the screen the longer it takes for the voltage to change). The Sony and LG higher end units are down to 4ms, which is excellent. LCD Projectors panels are so small that the latency is not an issue.

Even 4ms for LCD is slow compared to Plasma’s <0.002ms (in most modern Plasma panels) and that is the biggest problem i have with LCD, that and viewing angle.

My nEC Plasme lasted 4 years. I still have a laptop that ran windows 95 with an LCD screen. LCD’s last far longer. I opted for an LCD Projector so I got thee best of both worlds and watch movies at 100" diagonal. Plasma’s have beter black also. I still would buy an LCD over a plasma but only when the top line LG’s or SONY’s come down in price. The fact that Sony doesn’t make plasma’s anymore makes me think their days are numbered. People looking at lower end units should check out some of the CRT’s that are still out there. There are a few left that have excellent pictures.

Anything under 16ms Response time, should be suitable for High Definition TV @ 60FPS, except that manufacturers response time isn’t specified as White to Black, but as grey to grey.

God knows what the real response times are for the full range.

6ms response time should be more than enough for anything except First Person Shooters.

My 2 month old Sony Bravia is only 8ms and looks fabulous,
Brightness is 500cd/m^2, and REAL contrast ratio is 2200:1 (dynamic 12000:1),

I would suggest that the low contrast ratio may give you eyestrain.

The other difference between cheap & good brands is the upscaling from SD sources to HD. You may be able to get a cheap TV, and buy an expensive receiver, but I’m guessing that if you are considering a cheap TV, you probably don’t own an expensive receiver.

16 ms wold probably give me a seizure… You 8ms Sony is a great TV but the new 4ms ones are far superior. I opted for a projector because at the time there was nothing less than 8ms. A low contrast ration would give you eyestrain in a lighted room. You would have to dim it to enjoy it. There certainly is no viewing angle problem on front projectors. Vizio’s are really cheap TV’s. I’d rather own a CRT Trinitron WEGA 40" behemoth. It had better picture quality, you cold probably get a used one for next to nothing and with the digital comb filter it came with it almost had a 3d picture.

If you do a Google search for contrast ratios you will find that it mostly marketing hype like CDan mentioned. Here is one. Playing with numbers

Yes , it is marketing hype. Most manufacturers set the contrast to very high if not the highest setting to make their TV’s appear brighter in the showroom. Sony was notorious for this. Most people (exception is videofiles, probably everyone in this thread) never touch the color and contrast/picture settings. It is amazing how many homes I go into and watch peoples TV’s, LCD or Plasma and see the color RED bleeding past the borers of what ever it is on. I try to make my TV appear as though I am looking out of a window for the given scenario. Sony used to call their contrast “Picture”, whatever that meant.

Agreed … I tried playing quake3 on 16ms monitor once … urgh … nasty.
The 4ms Sony’s aren’t in Oz yet, and aren’t even listed on the website … apparently 6ms Samsungs are though.

The really important thing with these large TV’s is: The scaling engine.
While everything is in transition from Standard Definition to High Definition the scaling engine inside the TV has to be really good quality.

If it’s got a crap video scaler, the picture will be quite poor.

And on the manufacturer Hype, the Retail stores pull all sorts of nasty tricks to sell their TV’s.
I know that Sony & Bang & Olufsen (I think) have their own showrooms in the TV areas of the department stores, and the ambient lighting is only approx 75lx, whereas the bulk TV areas with the other brands, the lighting levels are upto 250lx.

The Sears in Danbury Ct. has a 4ms Sony Bravia. The Picture is outstanding. The only problem is with movies like “Pirates of the Caribean” the post production artifacts are readily visible. I for one will stick with LCD front projectors. I like the 100" screen I have and I really get the movie feel. My Sanyo projector has served me well these last 4 years and I hope within a year to get the newer Sanyo PLV-Z2000. For everyday viewing I have a Toshiba 36 in. CRT which looks really good with the YPrB connection or S-Video for Satellite viewing. One thing a lot of people forget is the stores want to sell what they have in their inventory.

[quote=Zathros;2069885]The Sears in Danbury Ct. has a 4ms Sony Bravia.[/quote] Which country is that? USA?
I’m still laughing at the Service Station incident in Utah, when the gas attendant was trying to give us a Fuel Discount card because she thought we were gonna [I]drive[/I] home to Australia.

Err … ok.

Bigger numbers sell better in the eyes of the manufacturer. It’s hype.

Understand the difference between dynamic contrast ratio and static contrast ratio.

The dynamic contrast ratio is a measurement of the brightest white the HDTV can produce as compared to the blackest black — not necessarily at the same time or in the same scene. For example, some LCD HDTVs use technology that brightens the overall picture in well-lit scenes to achieve very bright whites, and dims the overall picture in low-lit scenes to achieve truer, darker blacks. A measurement of the whitest white in the brightly lit scene compared to the darkest dark in the low-lit scene results in the dynamic contrast ratio specification.

The static contrast ratio measures dark and light in a static shot, or the highest contrast ratio achievable within the same scene at the same time. This is a smaller number but a truer measurement in terms of overall picture quality. It’s the measurement a shopper should take into account more so, perhaps, than the dynamic contrast ratio. But because the dynamic contrast ratio is a higher number, it’s often the number used on the specification card of the HDTV, especially if the static number is poor or average.

While the best judge of a good picture remains your own two eyes, specifications come in handy for comparing products that aren’t side by side (or when buying online). Many experts generally recommend a dynamic contrast ratio of at least 10,000:1. Some HDTVs today list contrast ratios as high as 15,000:1 or even 18,000:1. However, as stated previously, the static contrast ratio is more important.

A good starting point for the static contrast ratio is a minimum of 1,000:1. Some HDTVs list specifications as high as 1,500:1, 1,800:1 or 2,000:1. A contrast ratio of 5,000:1 is likely referring to the dynamic specification, though time will bring improvements to static specifications so be sure to check which type of contrast ratio is being advertised.

Knowing the difference between these two measurements takes the confusion out of seeing an HDTV with a contrast ratio of 1800:1 (for example), and noting it looks better than ‘the HDTV with 10000:1’ listed. In reality 1800:1 is a very high static contrast ratio, while 10000:1 is an average dynamic ratio.


@Platinumsword, That was a great summation. Too bad the manufacturrs don’t print this stuff on their box’s or with their adverts.

@Debro, Sears, Danbury, Connecticut, U.S.A., someone has to live there.

[quote=Zathros;2069498]My nEC Plasme lasted 4 years. I still have a laptop that ran windows 95 with an LCD screen. LCD’s last far longer.[/quote]4 years is too short or you might be unlucky. I’m looking at a 2002 receipt of Panasonic 42" Plasma, that’s 6 years old and it’s non HDTV (480p) still working fine.

New LCD and Plasma are rated about 60,000 hour panel life. If that’s a hype, lets say only 30,000 hours. With an average 8 hours watching per day (maybe to much for some households), that’s about 3,750 days or about 10 years.

Back to topic, very good explanation [B]platinumsword[/B].

But how do we determine static contrast ratio if specs only states dynamic contrast ratio?

I had a TV repair shop back in the olden days. I actually fixed a couple of plasma’s before they were readily available to the general public. The Plasma screen tubes are very fragile. That is why the frames much be so sturdy. If you pop one of the glass nipples on the tube it is blown. The main weakness of plasma TV’s is that they require high voltage. High Voltage/current (not the same, I know) is the enemy of longevity. The blacks (shades!!) on Plasma’s are not yet matched by LCD’s however and the Latency rate is virtually non-existent. I hope LCD’s catch up to Plasma’s in this regard. If they do, I predict the end of Plasma TV’s.

There lies the problem, there is no industry standard and for the average consumer it’s a major inconvenience. Spending a lot of time researching the particular product will be required.

Let your eyes be the judge.

Picked this up from another web site.
[B]HDTV Tips - Improve Your HDTV’s Contrast Ratio[/B][/U]

The key is to “trick” your eyes a little bit. Your eye’s iris (the “aperture” of your eye) will constrict in bright light and dilate in darker light, right? If your TV room is completely dark, your eyes will be dilated and sensitive to low amounts of light, so you will have to turn the brightness down on your screen to make the dark areas appear totally black. This also reduces the brightness of the bright scenes, thus reducing the apparent contrast ratio.

If you place a dim light source, like a small lamp, behind the TV in your otherwise dark room, your iris will contract a bit and allow you to turn up the brightness a little. You will still see black as completely black, and will have more brightness in the bright scenes, thus increasing the apparent contrast ratio and making the picture look better. Constricting your iris also increases the sharpness of your vision, just as stopping down the aperture of a camera lens increases sharpness and depth of field. And the dim, diffuse light will not cause glare on the screen like a direct or overhead light would.

[B]Some more reading.[/B]

[B][U]The Contrast Ratio Game[/U]



Sony and Bang & Olufsen use Dimmable Cove Lighting (which is a fluorescent tube in a small trough on the wall close to the roof. The Light shoots up to the roof and bounces back down again, but very scattered.

It’s not useless for normal lighting, but not far from it. Indirect lighting is very inefficient but is great for applications like home theatres.

[quote=debro;2070642]Sony and Bang & Olufsen use Dimmable Cove Lighting (which is a fluorescent tube in a small trough on the wall close to the roof. The Light shoots up to the roof and bounces back down again, but very scattered.

It’s not useless for normal lighting, but not far from it. Indirect lighting is very inefficient but is great for applications like home theaters.[/quote]

Yup I agree. :iagree:


I like to use the THX setup to adjust my projector. I have found that it is not applicable for all movies but gives a good reference point. When watching the extended “Lord of the Rings” there is a definite difference when the projector warms up and my eye “warm” up. Sometimes it is worth watching all of the intro credit to give your ye times to adjust.
@Platinumsword, that was a great link!!