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Contrast Ratio - How important is it really?

Discussion in 'Plasma TVs' started by mcav, Jan 6, 2005.

  1. mcav

    mcav
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    Just having a look at AV sales just now (other providers are available)

    Searching plasma by size.

    The Panasonic PW7 is what I have my eye on (notwithstanding this whole HDMI debacle)

    What I noticed is this can be bought for 1745 incl delivery, terminal board and desk stand/wall mount which seems not bad.

    All the other 42" panels are considerably more expensive, and yes some of them are higher resolution but fujitsu, Hitatchi, Samsung Philips and Sony have plasmas which cost more by quite a way on avsales.

    Thing is - a lot of them have a much lower contrast ratio. Am I being suckered into a "it's more expensive so it must be better" trap, or what? Also why is it that the higher def panels all have the lower contrast ratios? Like I was saying - is this really an important spec???

    I'm now looking at the following panels on avsales.co.uk

    Fujitsu P42VCA30 ES Plasma Screen £2626

    Hitachi 42PMA500E Plasma Screen £2354

    Hitachi 42PD5200 Plasma TV £2782

    Hitachi 42PD5300 Plasma Screen £2988

    Panasonic TH-42PW7B Plasma Screen £1745 (of course)

    Pioneer PDP-43MXE1 Plasma Screen £2446

    Now of course these all come with somethign or other to make the offers special, but they all vary greatly in contrast ratio, as well as screen resoltuion.

    Ultimately, I'll be plugging Sky+, a DVD player and games console into it, would like a good RGB scart, component and or DVI and VGA connection as well. sound and tuner not required at all.

    Sorry I know that was all a bit of a rant, but I'm having serious trouble here.

    Any straightening out would be very appreciated.

    Thanks
     
  2. Sulis

    Sulis
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    I would check out the NEC VR5 (or XR3) as well. Av-sales do 'em, too. Lots of built-in connectivity, potential to do 720@50, etc... I see a lot of them around as display panels, and they do look good.
     
  3. JonStatt

    JonStatt
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    Contrast ratio is not a simple topic. There are many ways to measure it for TVs but I believe it is normally measured in a pitch black room to give the maximum reading (and not normally a realistic one)

    For LCD, black is not black, its grey. The contrast ratio really only considers the difference between the darkest black that can be produced, to the brightest white. So if an LCD set, say has a 800:1 contrast ratio, it may still have a terrible black level and the contrast ratio alone tells you nothing about black level.

    Plasmas do better on the black level with the exception of some of the lower end models. So what you really care about, is how much contrast is enough for the room you are using it in. The more light you have in the room, the more of the darker greys will appear black. This means the gap from the perceived blackest black to the whitest white is reduced, and the apparent contrast ratio is also thus reduced.

    I have a Panasonic PWD6. It has a 4000:1 contrast ratio. I have the contrast turned right down otherwise it is painful to watch, and the set is capable of producing probably more than double from the blackest black to the whitest white than I allow it to do or would ever want.

    As a feeling, I reckon that once you get over 2000:1 contrast ratio, unless you are watching in environments with the sun pouring in over the screen from a window, I can't see this being much of a consideration.

    Jonathan
     
  4. mcav

    mcav
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    Thanks for the explanation of contrast ratio.

    Very helpful :thumbsup:
     
  5. Nick_UK

    Nick_UK
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    When LCD became a serious competitor to plasma, many manufacturers published their plasma contrast ratios, because for black levels plasma blows LCD out of the water. Since plasma screens all use the same basic technology, there isn't going to be much to choose between them for contrast ratio, only the way they were measured. You should choose a plasma screen for best all-round performance, with a proper audition, not just by comparing specs.
     
  6. mcav

    mcav
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    It's the audition of plasmas that seems to be very difficult to do.

    The Panasonic sho in Dundee and Perth are both heavily plugging the Vierra. John Ross Hi-Fi in Dundee is owned by the same guy that owns the Panasonic Shop in Perth!!! and they stock only the Vierra because "why would I stock any other panel?"

    Comet and Hydro etc... never have the panels I am after - they have the LG which I have considered, but it's awlays getting demo'd with crappy shared composite.

    Dixons are plugging the Techwood!!!

    'Tis a puzzle.
     
  7. Nick_UK

    Nick_UK
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    Well the problem you'll have here on this forum is that everyone will plug their own plasma screen, because they obviously made the right choice :)

    I know it's difficult. I couldn't find a store which could demo the Hitachi 42PD5300 for me - I had to base my opinions on a 37" version of the 5200. What swung it for me for the Hitachi were the good reviews, and the clutch of "Best Buy" awards that the Hitachi won.
     

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