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Does Contrast Ratio Alone Make a Television Senior-Friendly?

Black White Contrast Ratio Illustration

After our post on the Top Five Sets for the Elderly, we received several questions about the importance of contrast ratio in choosing a TV.

Simply put, contrast ratio is the ratio between the brightest whites and darkest black colors of an image or, in this case, a television picture. In theory, the higher the contrast ratio the better. This is especially true for a person with impaired vision because higher contrast makes it easier to see.

Technology experts are reluctant to put too much emphasis on contrast ratios, however, not only because there are many other factors to consider, but also because these numbers can be calculated in a somewhat subjective manner. In addition to contrast ratio, one’s ultimate viewing experience will be influenced by room lighting, the design features of the room the TV resides in, the distance between the set and the viewer, and the manufacturer’s measurement method and terminology.

 

Experts believe it is these last two elements that make contrast ratio figures difficult to consider, as measurement methods and terminology can vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Read Geoffrey Morrison’s Home Theater blog for more about why you shouldn’t let contrast ratio weigh too heavily on you when you’re purchasing a TV:Home Theatre Contrast Ratio – the Useless Statistic.

Based on just contrast ratio alone, we find it difficult to make an accurate assessment of which television will be best for you. Generally, all things being equal, a Sony is usually a better television set. If at all possible, however, you should compare the picture quality of the TVs you’re interested in by looking at them side by side (some stores may be willing to do this if you ask their clerks).

You can gain an even more accurate comparison by turning the sets to the same channel or popping in the same movie. Consider any and all differences in features, including service plans. You should also read the reviews written by both professional product reviewers and by consumers like yourself who have purchased these same sets. And, of course, don’t forget about your budget.

Need even more help? Review the criteria that ElderGadget used to form our opinions, as well as the TVs we considered to be the most elder friendly.

We hope this post answers all your questions on contrast ratio and the role it plays when purchasing a television, but feel free to check out a series of external articles that discuss this feature as well:

http://www.practical-home-theater-guide.com/contrast-ratio.html
http://blog.hometheatermag.com/geoffreymorrison/111705contrast/
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10148015-1.html
http://www.cnet.com/8301-17914_1-9985085-89.html
http://www.pcworld.com/article/125816/how_to_buy_an_hdtv.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contrast_ratio

 

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