Understanding a Display's Contrast Ratio
The contrast ratio of a display measures how well a display can show both bright brights and nuanced darks. The contrast ratio may not be evident on TVs on a showroom floor (because the displays have their brightness cranked up), but displays should be capable of showing both dark and light scenes.
For example, with a good contrast ratio, you'll be able to see the flash of the artillery in Saving Private Ryan — as well as the soldiers seeking cover in the shadows.
Keep the following tips (regarding contrast ratio) in mind when shopping for a display:
You’ll see the contrast ratio listed as a numeric ratio, something like 1000:1, representing the whitest white compared to the blackest black.
Typically, direct-view (tube) displays and projector systems that use CRTs have the highest contrast ratios, whereas systems that use plasma or LCD technologies have the lowest.
When it comes to contrast ratio, a higher ratio is better.
There isn’t a standardized, approved way of measuring contrast ratios, so one manufacturer’s 800:1 may not be the same as another’s. You need to rely on magazine and online reviews and use your own eyes in a thorough test drive at a dealer’s showroom. You might want to look for reviews that include a professional calibration of the display, because that shows the display’s true capabilities. When you do a test drive, use some of your own DVDs that you know well.