Contrast ratio

Contrast ratio© 2023 Shutterstock

What is contrast ratio?

Contrast ratio is an often overlooked, but extremely relevant aspect to consider when looking for a new monitor or TV. The value indicates how significant the difference between the brightest and darkest colors that a display can reproduce is. With this in mind, high contrast ratios (e.g., 5,000:1) are more desirable, and images seen on panels with low contrast ratios may seem washed out and lacking in color.

When researching, you may come across different values for the same product: one for static contrast ratio and another one for dynamic contrast ratio. The value that you see on Versus refers to the former, also known as the native contrast ratio. This measure represents the difference between whites and blacks reproduced by the panel itself, without the impact of LED illumination that is sometimes placed behind screens to increase contrast.

Note that this measure is not standardized, and each manufacturer may have a different approach to testing. The typically favored method examines the isolated product; the most accurate results, however, derive from tests that take the surrounding environment into account. When this is considered, the contrast ratio generally decreases, which explains most manufacturers' preference, in the absence of industry-wide standards. As one might expect, a room's particularities impact the actual contrast ratio experienced by the viewer.


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