Smart TV Buying Guide - Contrast Ratio
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Contrast Ratio Explained

The Contrast ratio of a TV is the measurement of the difference in brightness between the whitest white and the darkest black seen on the display. As a good example, a TV with a contrast ratio of 4,000:1 would mean that the brightest point in any image seen on screen is 4,000 times as bright as the darkest point you could see.

In TVs you'll get the best results from the sets with higher contrast ratios. Arguably it's one of the most important measurements of any Tv's capability.

The Wikipedia article on contrast ratios covers the subject in much greater technical detail.

CNET cover the explanation of contrast ratio in similarly expert fashion.