pick up either the Avia or Video Essentials DVD. On either of these DVDs you will get to see and hear why contrast and almost every other detail and tuning is so important. Its worth the 40 or 50 bucks. You may find it online cheaper.
IS THAT A REMOTE CONTROL IN YOUR POCKET OR ARE YOU JUST HAPPY TO SEE HDTV?
Contrast ratio is the "brightness range" of a display device. A contrast ratio of 400:1 means that the brightest point on the display can be 400 times brighter than the darkest point. A higher contrast ratio (400:1 is higher than 250:1) means a snappier-looking, more natural picture. A low contrast ratio means that dark scenes will look "muddy" or "washed out". In general CRTs have the best contrast ratio and LCDs have the worst.
Not to get too technical but Contrast is the "consumer" adjustment for the WHITE level while Brightness is the adjustment for BLACK level.
As far as the ratio, as correctly described, the CR is the difference between the whitest white and the blackest black. The CR is very important because the higher the CR the more the image will have a 3D look to it.
The human eye is fooled into seeing a 3D image on a 2D surface (screen) by a high CR. This usually happens when the CR approaches 1000 to 1.
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