TV Reaction Time: Why Is It Important?

When buying a television set, most people look at the obvious specifications such as screen size, display resolution, etc. The reaction time is an extremely important spec that not a lot of consumers consider – so much so that some manufacturers don’t even mention it in the brochure. But if it’s not explicitly mentioned, it shouldn’t be that important, right? Wrong!

The time it takes for a pixel to go from an active state (black) to an inactive state (white) and back to black again is the display’s reaction time. A low time value means that the TV is able to cope well with pixels changing colors quickly which helps avoid artefacts, motion lag, etc.

Also read our latest LED/LCD TV reviews if you like this article about TV reaction time:

What exactly is motion lag?

Motion lag happens when the fast moving images are shown on a screen with a high reaction time – a sort of blurring in which the picture almost looks like it is constantly trying to catch up with the original feed. The problem is common in LCD displays – and not CRTs and Plasma screens – because of the difference in technology. In fact, even LED TV’s can develop blurring because they are just an LCD screen with LED backlighting. No matter how expensive or feature-rich a TV is, a high response time will ruin your overall experience.

Is there a recommended reaction time value I should look for?

Generally, a response rate less than 14 milliseconds is considered average and anything lower is good. When two images are more than 14 ms apart, the human eye is able to detect that there is a slight difference, causing motion lag. Nowadays, most reputed television manufacturers are trying to keep reaction time as low as possible because more and more people are becoming aware of it. But, TV’s made by some low-tier manufacturers have response times ranging between 14 – 25ms which they try to hide either by not mentioning it or by using a lenient measuring system to get a more acceptable value.

What is the best way to make sure that my new TV has a good response time?

A simple option is to make sure that you choose a TV made by a reputed manufacturer. Big companies like Samsung, LG, Sharp, Sony, etc. constantly improve their models because of intense competition. To get a lower response time, some manufacturers have even increased their refresh rate from the standard 60Hz to 120Hz or 240Hz. Higher refresh rates reduce response rate considerably. Using this techniques, some LCD models have managed to lower the time to as low as 4ms.

Will I face any issues if my TV has a high response time?

It depends on how high the reaction rate, and the consequent motion lag, is. In some cases, the lag can be more of a minor annoyance than a serious problem, but detracts from overall viewing experience nonetheless. Moreover, different people have different reactions even when watching the same television – some people learn to ignore the lag while some others may develop painful headaches.