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What Does Hz On a TV Mean?

Q. I’m shopping for a new TV but I am very confused about the Hz rating on some sets. I see 60Hz, 120Hz and even 240Hz. What does it mean? Do you really get a better picture if the Hz number is higher? — Snoop, Santa Monica, California.

The Hz number refers to the Hertz level of the set. And what that means in laymen’s terms is the Hz number tells you how quickly the set ‘refreshes’ the picture.

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That’s an important feature when reducing the amount of motion blur during fast-moving scenes, particularly when displayed on LCD and LED sets. (Think sports.)  In theory, if your set ‘refreshes’ more often, it will keep your picture more stable and less likely to show any blur.

However, before you assume that a higher number guarantees a better picture — and therefore, a higher price for the set — some display experts differ on the importance of the Hz level. While most agree that a 60Hz set can have blur issues and that a 120Hz set will look significantly better, some believe that the jump to 240Hz will have a smaller impact. Better, yes, but not dramatic.

So when shopping for a new set, keep the Hz level in mind, but don’t buy a set just because one has a higher number than another.

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About TV Answer Man (703 Articles)
The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than two decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television.

1 Comment on What Does Hz On a TV Mean?

  1. Kind of a sparse explanation, Swanni. For instance, you could have mentioned that 120 Hz indicates that the picture refreshes 120 times per second, or that some manufacturers fudge this spec if their set’s refresh rate is accompanied by picture-doubling (sending the same picture to the screen TWICE). With this doubling, the deceptive set maker can call a 60 Hz set a 120 Hz set, when it actually is not. The real takeaway here is that the consumer should avoid buying an HDTV with a refresh-rate of only 60hz, whether or not it has picture-doubling.

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