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What is a Refresh Rate?

by Product Specialist


When people watch television, they are actually viewing a series of images that move so fast the brain views them as continuous motion. The standard frame rate in the United States is 60 per second. When liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions came on the market, the push was on to increase the frame rate beyond that. Originally, LCD televisions had 120 Hz, but many now have 240 Hz or even more.

One of the early problems with LCDs was motion resolution. This means the entire image blurs while the background remains stationary. This could occasionally cause a poor viewing experience due to the slow response time for the pixels changing from light to dark. Fortunately, this is rarely an issue anymore.

Re-Training the Brain to Interpret Motion

Everyone's brain interprets motion in a different way. While some people might notice and feel annoyed by motion blur, it won't even register for others. The key to an excellent viewing experience is to teach the brain to see things differently and to look for certain features on LCD television sets. One is backlight flashing. This feature enables the light in the program to go dark between each frame refresh. It creates a continual pattern of images and then darkness. Sets with an advanced feature called backlight scanning reduce background lighting to be in exact sequence with the video.

LCD TV sets with 120 Hz or 24 Hz have the ability to create new frames of video in between the ones that already exist. The term for this is frame insertion. It is not noticeable when watching live television, pre-recorded videos, or sporting events but can cause more issues in pre-recorded scripted TV shows and movies. This is why viewer preference and the way the brain interprets images is so important. Most LCD TVs come with the ability to turn this feature off when it doesn't add to the viewing experience.