Manufacturers of TV sets claim that if a TV has a higher contrast ratio, the picture quality will be better. In fact, some High-Definition TVs (HDTVs) today, boast about using ratios as high as 3,000,000:1. This is a very large number to brandish in reference to picture quality. Due to this, customers can get fooled easily.
Technically speaking, this ratio is the difference in the amount of light between the darkest shade of black and the lightest shade of white, that we can see on the screen. It is actually the degree of difference, or the contrast, between these two extreme shades of darkness and brightness.
Some TV sets show a black rock as a dark-colored lump, while others highlight the details in the rock, like its pores and crevices. The level of the details that we see on the screen is also determined by this feature of the TV set.
Static and Dynamic Ratios
A static ratio is more accurate and is a much smaller number than the dynamic ratio. Also known as the display device native contrast ratio, the static ratio represents the true contrast ratio of the TV set. Thus, it shows the difference between the darkest black and the whitest white that it can support at any given time.
On the other hand, the dynamic ratio simply displays the ratio between these two colors as they appear at separate times, and not together. Hence, the extremely high figures like 3,000,000:1 are advertised, when in reality, a TV screen would be unable to support such colors at the same time.
The main trouble with judging TV sets based on these ratios is that, there are no industry standards for them. Manufacturers are free to issue their own ratios based on their production and engineering.
People who have to suffer due to this are those customers who do not research about this aspect properly, and fall for such sales gimmicks. They end up paying very high amounts for TV sets that have an exaggerated dynamic ratio, when in reality, the static ratio is the same of TV sets that cost half as much.
If you have read or heard about HDTV contrast ratios from a TV manufacturer or salesman, you will know about the merits that a high ratio has. Educate yourself further about the differences between static and dynamic ratios, to avoid being fooled.