Vendors want to sell you stuff! There, it's finally been said. Don't believe me? Well, you wouldn't be the first, but thankfully, I have evidence.
Within the last year I've seen a new spec, called dynamic contrast ratio (DCR), tossed around for computer displays. If you didn't know before, contrast ratio is simply the difference between the darkest blacks and the brightest whites a given display can produce.
Typically, computer displays have a contrast ratio of about 1000:1. However with DCR, you'll see numbers like 4000:1, 10,000:1, and higher. Basically, it's just a way for Company A to proclaim, "Don't buy Company B's monitor because it has a much lower DCR than our monitor." Since more and more vendors have been pushing this, I want to delve further into how they're getting these numbers. I also covered this topic in less detail (but with a sexy voice thrown in) in episode 2 of the Inside CNET Labs podcast.
Before a monitor is released to the public it goes through a bunch of testing in the vendor's own lab. These tests produce the specs that the vendor will then publish with the release. Specs like maximum brightness, pixel pitch, pixel response time, contrast ratio, and dynamic contrast ratio are all determined in the vendor's own lab.
When testing normal contrast ratio, vendors use a device that measures light to determine how much light is emanating from a display while it's showing both a completely black and a completely white screen. They then take each number, do a bit of math, and come up with the contrast ratio. … Read more