You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about a TV’s contrast ratio, and you’re wondering why it is so important? Well, the contrast ratio refers to a TV’s characteristic defined by the difference between the screen’s brightest spot, and its darkest spot.
In this post, we’re going to explain the effects of a TVs contrast ratio, Different types of TVs and their contrast ratios, Native contrast, and local dimming. We will also discuss the negative effects of a TV with a poor contrast ratio. After reading, you should feel confident picking the correct TV for your needs.
What Are The Effects Of Contrast Ratio?
The contrast ratio of your TV plays a massive role when it comes to the immersiveness of your home theater. A TV without a decent contrast ratio means the TV won’t be able to produce high-quality pictures, a higher contrast ratio means deeper blacks; your immersive experience heavily relies on having a decent contrast ratio.
Movie scenes tend to have bright and dark spots which make up the image, and this image could either look spectacular with high details in the dark spots, or horrible with not much depth and detail in the darkest areas. In a nutshell, this is the effect the contrast ratio has on TVs.
A TV’s contrast ratio should be displayed in the specification of most TVs, an example of a TV’s contrast ratio would be 5000:1. This means the TV is able to produce whites 5000 times brighter than its darkest black. Certain TV’s have an infinite contrast ratio (INF:1) which means the TV’s brightest white is infinitely brighter than the TV’s darkest black, however, this is a feature only seen with OLED TV’s as they can turn off pixels when needed.
What Is Native & Dynamic Constast?
Native contrast refers to the contrast ratio without any processing such as local dimming, so essentially, native contrast ratio is the more reliable term you should listen to. With processing enabled such as local dimming, the blacks will appear darker, but with less detail, but the contrast ratio will be increased; this is called Dynamic Contrast.
Is Local Dimming worth it? Local dimming can have its ups and downs, sometimes it can make an image look spectacular on the other hand, it can cause dark zones to lose detail and cause bright zones to bloom. This is due to how the technology works, to increase the contrast ratio, backlight zones will be dimmed to make blacks appear darker, and bright zones appear brighter.
For HDR content, Local Dimming can be a massive improvement compared to the standard native contrast ratio, however, local dimming isn’t perfect, it has its problems. The dynamic contrast ratio will be higher due to local dimming, but you may experience issues such as blooming around bright objects, and blacks losing their detail.
For home theaters, you may want a TV with great FALD (Full Array Local Dimming) capabilities for HDR content as it can vastly improve the viewing experience. Edge lit local dimming isn’t as popular as the full array local dimming, and most users just disable it if possible.
Also Read: Is Local Dimming Worth It?
QLED Vs OLED: Whats Best For Contrast Ratio?
QLED (Quantum Dot LED) according to Samsung is a display technology that uses microscopic dots to emit colors when illuminated with light. QLED shares some similarities with LCD displays as they both use LCD panels. QLED TVs are able to produce better colors that are pure and saturated because of the quantum dot layer.
OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) is another display technology that uses a thin carbon-based film placed between two conductors. The organic-based films will light up when excited by an electrical current. This is how the image is produced.
When it comes to contrast ratios, OLED panels seem to be superior having a nearly infinite contrast ratio. This is possible because OLED panels are able to switch off individual pixels making the brightest part on the screen infinitely brighter compared to the darkest point on the screen. This makes OLED panels much more alluring for home theaters as they seem to provide a superior viewing experience.
QLED TVs seem to get far brighter compared to OLED TVs, and brightness plays a huge role when it comes to contrast ratio. If the screen isn’t able to get bright enough, then HDR content will suffer, and the TV will look washed out in brightly lit conditions. So, QLED TVs have higher peak brightness, and OLED TVs have better control over dark spots creating a higher contrast ratio.
If it’s not possible to get your room dark enough, then QLED TVs would make more sense as they can get much brighter, but OLED TVs make more sense if your room can get dark enough, or you’re setting up a home theater.
IPS VS VA
If you’re currently using or going to buy a LED TV, then it’s worth learning about the technology some of them use. Just like OLED and QLED, there are different types of LED panels, and they have varying effects on the contrast ratio of your panel.
IPS (In Plane Switching) is a type of technology that provides consistent contrast and colors no matter your viewing angle. IPS based panels are known for having low contrast ratios, usually the bright spots can only get 1000 times brighter than the dark spots (1000:1).
VA (Vertical Alignment) is another technology for LED TVs, and they have superior static contrast ratios compared to IPS panels. Their contrast ratios can range between 2000:1 – 3000:1, VA panels have superior blacks and whites, they’re awesome for home theaters and video games.
IPS TVs provide better colors which could be more important in specific circumstances, but for watching shows and movies, VA TVs are probably the best option. They’re able to get bright enough so if you room is particularly bright, it shouldn’t be an issue.
The contrast ratio is extremely important for the viewing experience as it can vastly improve the viewing experience by providing images with better depth and details in dark scenes.
We’ve learnt that there are some technologies used to increase the contrast ratio, this is called Dynamic Ratio by using technology such as Local Dimming. Local dimming is great when it’s implemented correctly, and it’s almost necessary if you’re building a home theater for viewing HDR movies.
There are different technologies that produce different levels of contrast. OLED TVs have much higher contrast ratios as they’re able to turn off certain pixels. This creates an infinite contrast ratio (inf:1). QLED TVs don’t have infinite contrast, but they’re able to get much brighter compared to OLED panels.