What is a refresh rate in the TV and does higher refresh rate really matter?
As I wrote in my last post, I am currently researching Televisions (TVs) for a possible purchase in few weeks. TV prices have decreased drastically in last few years and new technologies are introduced into new TVs at an affordable price.
The first question to answer while TV shopping is the size. Which size TV to buy? Usually the bigger is better as long as it’s in your price range. Please refer to my previous post to get an answer to the first question.
The second question that came to my mind is the display refresh rate. I remember few years back 120Hz TV was extremely expensive. Then comes the flood of refresh rate advances at least in terms of Marketing by all the major manufacturers. Today 120Hz TV is fairly affordable and sold for not so much more compared to the 60Hz TV.
What is a refresh rate?
It is a number of frames per second the television can display. Theoretically, a regular LCD or LED TVs has 60Hz refresh rate that corresponds to the 60 images per second. In the U.S., electricity runs at 60Hz, so the TVs run at the same rate usually. A 120Hz TV is theoretically capable of drawing 120 images per second.
Does higher refresh rate really matter in TV?
In simple practical term: It does not matter.
In a bit advanced theoretical term: It does matter, although only little and indirectly.
Now let me explain my logic on my answers.
The refresh rate was initially meant to reduce the motion blur problem in LCD/LEDs. Although a screen can theoretically refresh or produce more frames per second, there is no content to show for that extra frame! So far the maximum frame rate for the recent movie has been 48 frames per second as of writing this article (That is not even native for 60Hz TV, forget a 120Hz TV). Even for the latest games and consoles (XBOX or PS4) are capped at 60 frames per second. So the extra frame that the LCD will produce will still have duplicate content anyway without any new information in it. So, in all practical terms, higher refresh rate does not matter.
However, while TV shopping, I would like to buy 120Hz native refresh rate TV (Provided my budget permits). I believe (not scientifically) that a display that can refresh faster is more capable. Since it has better ability to produce new frames faster, I consider that it has an ability to get rid of the last frame from the screen to produce a new frame! Exact problem that TV manufacturer’s trying to solve using higher refresh rate. This will result into better user experience while watching TV and better picture quality. Therefore, higher refresh rate does matter, although only little and indirectly.
What about high-speed games? TV manufacturer claims that it is better on higher refresh rate TVs
It does not matter what content you are playing on the TV as long as it has less than 120 frames per second original content. As I said before, there is no content that has native 120 frames per second so it doesn’t matter what you watch, it will not selectively benefit by higher frame rate TVs.
What should I do? This is very confusing
As I said, I am TV shopping and will buy a TV that supports 120Hz native. The only reason for this decision is that it’s not much more expensive from comparable 60Hz TV that I like, as well my budget permits it.
You should choose not to buy 120Hz or higher refresh rate TV if your budget does not permit the different between comparable TVs. You will not lose anything by not buying 60Hz TV. Practically, you would still enjoy that high-speed games, console games and movies equally well on 60Hz TV as you would on 120Hz.
Focus on the TV factor of the TV- Display reliability, Picture quality, and Colors.