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What does TV refresh rate and frame rate mean?

Are you a fan of video games, action movies and sports looking for a new TV? If so, you should pay close attention to one feature on the devices you want: the refresh rate.

In this article, our expert advisors explain what a TV refresh rate is and how it affects the fluidity of the images on display.

Understanding what TV refresh rate is

To create the illusion of a moving image, a television set displays a sequence of still images at a very high speed. The number of images it displays per second is its refresh rate. It is measured in Hertz (Hz).

The refresh rate is often confused with the frame rate (fps or frames per second). They are indeed very similar and both refer to the number of times a static image is generated per second. However, the frame rate usually refers to the content itself, while the refresh rate refers to the device used to display that content.

Compare TVs based on their refresh rate

If you understood the notions in the previous paragraph properly, then you know that the higher a TV’s refresh rate, the smoother its broadcasted image will be.

The two standards frequencies on the TV market today are 60Hz et 120Hz.

It should be noted that these rates refer to the device's native refresh rate and most manufacturers will artificially increase this frequency by using digital processing. You may therefore come across TVs with an even higher refresh rate advertised.

Each manufacturer has its own image fluidity processing software for higher refresh rates. Some brands have even adopted their own rates.

Different technologies to improve a TV's native refresh rate

As mentioned above, each TV manufacturer has developed its own image processing mechanism to improve sharpness and smoothness. However, these are generally based on one or more of the three following techniques:

Video processing

Video processing consists of inserting one or more images between each original image sent by the input (Blu-Ray player, game console, etc.). Each original image is simply reproduced to double or quadruple the initial frame rate.

This type of processing is relatively simple to set up since it does not require a lot of computing power. However, it is not the most efficient way to make an image more fluid.

Motion interpolation

In a way, motion interpolation is an improved version of video processing. It also involves inserting intermediate images between the original images, but without using simple clones. Instead, intermediate images are created by a video processor that continuously analyzes the image sent by the source to identify moving elements and make unique intermediate images. These are then interspersed between the original images, which effectively smoothes the display while maintaining a high level of detail in the moving images.

The Motionflow technology that some Sony brand TVs rely on use this kind of image processing.

Backlight Flashing and Backlight Scanning

As its name suggests, Backlight Flashing is a very fast backlight flashing system that further increases the refresh rate already obtained by image processing or interpolation. It is mainly used in OLED and QLED TVs.

This video processing method uses two consecutive backlights for each native, inserted or interpolated image. The brain then interprets this image alternation as a doubling of the display frequency.

Backlight Scanning is a more advanced version of Backlight Flashing. It includes a real time backlight intensity adjustment based on the brightness of the image transmitted by the source.

TV frame rate

TV frame rate is an indicative value. This means that the higher its value, the more clearly and precisely the device is able to display moving images.

Just remember that the frame rate is a combination of the native refresh rate of the TV and image processing (insertion, interpolation and backlight flashing) that artificially increases the number of images displayed per second.

However, this rate is difficult to use to compare different TV brands because it usually varies by manufacturer. For example, Samsung uses Motion Rate and LG uses TruMotion Rate. On the other hand, it can be used to compare devices from the same brand.

Expert advice to choose the best TV

In short, refresh rate and frame rate are two different concepts, but they both affect a TV's ability to display clear and accurate moving images.

It is no surprise that many consumers struggle to compare different devices when shopping for a TV. You have to take into account both the native refresh rate and the image processing modes used to enhance it to achieve the desired frame rate.

Between two devices with a similar frame rate, it is generally preferable to choose the one with the highest native refresh rate. The main reason is that image processing technologies use a lot of computing power, which can sometimes lead to a lag between the signal and the display. This is why several models offer the possibility to disable these technologies when watching sports or playing video games.

If you want to make sure you choose the best TV, why not stop by and ask our in-store representatives for advice? They will be able to suggest devices adapted to your needs while also taking into account elements such as the room where you will place it, the devices you want to connect to it and the content you enjoy watching.

See you soon!

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