I threw this term around lightly in the last section, and some manufacturers will throw this term around lightly, as well. Many companies determine the contrast ratio of their TVs very differently. The contrast ratio is simply the difference in brightness between the darkest black and whitest white the TV can produce. With a low contrast ratio, black areas of an image might appear more like a washed-out gray, or bright areas may lack vibrance. You’ll often see numbers like 2,000:1 or 5,000:1 to indicate the contrast ratio, and the bigger that ratio, the better — in theory.
Because manufacturers measure and report the ratios differently, you might come across a TV with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio that still won’t create as pretty an image as a TV which the manufacturers reported as having only a 5,000:1 contrast ratio. Your best bet is to check out an external review site that tests contrast ratios. Otherwise, be sure to view the TV in a dark place, as ambient light will make it hard to tell how dark the TV’s blacks can get. If you know you might not have time to do all that while browsing, just pay attention to when a contrast ratio is advertised as “true” or “native” as opposed to “dynamic.” The true or native contrast ratios are more likely to give you numbers within reason, which means you’ll be able to compare the figure to that of other TVs.
Color reproduction and color depth
This isn’t very likely to come up, as most TV manufacturers will keep their color depth at a level that won’t frustrate consumers. But if you’re shopping for a real bargain-priced TV, you may want to make sure that you get one with a bit depth of “8 bits per channel” or more, with particular emphasis on “per channel.” This will ensure that the TV is able to create enough colors to satisfy the human eye and present photo-realistic images.