What Is a Refresh Rate?
You've probably seen the numbers while reading BRAVIA product details - 60Hz, 120Hz and 240Hz. These numbers represent the total number of scans performed on the screen within one second of time. How these scans impact you is in the quality of the on-screen image.
More scans means more detail, less blur on-screen. As a result, moving images should be considerably clearer on a 120Hz TV in comparison to a 60Hz TV.
The downside of a faster refresh rate is a higher purchase price as you can see in the list below, which shows price increases as you move from bottom to top through the BRAVIA product line from 60Hz to 240Hz. Prices and models were taken directly from the Sony Style website for 46" BRAVIA TVs:
- KDL-46S5100 - 60Hz - $1,299.99
- KDL-46V5100 - 120Hz - $1,799.99 (+ $500)
- KDL-46VE5 - 120Hz - $1,999.99 (+ $200)
- KDL-46W5100 - 120Hz - $2,099.99 (+ $100)
- KDL-46Z5100 - 240Hz - $2,599.99 (+ $500)
- KDL-46XBR9 - 240Hz - $2,899.99 (+ $300)
BRAVIA - 240hz, 120hz and 60hz
As you can probably tell from the price comparison above, Sony utilizes three refresh rates within their BRAVIA line of LCD televisions - 60Hz, 120Hz and 240Hz.
Putting price aside for a moment, refresh rate is important if you demand the best picture while watching a lot of action content, like sports, movies or even programming with moving text. Refresh rate isn't as critical if you watch a lot of daytime soaps or older syndicated content that doesn't have a lot of motion.
240Hz - XBR9 and Series Z: We could probably spend hours debating whether or not human eyes can see a difference when doing a side-by-side comparison between a 240Hz BRAVIA and 120Hz BRAVIA. So, since I authored this article I'll end the debate here and suggest that you won’t be able to tell an on-screen difference in picture quality between a 240Hz and 120Hz panel. I know I can't tell a difference.
There are people that have super-human eyes. These are the humans that claim to be able to read a number written on a fastball as it travels to them at over 90 mph. So, if you're one of those people and can see a difference between 240Hz and 120Hz then please share your story with the visually challenged.
So, my final word on 240Hz is that I have no doubt that the 240Hz panel performs better on paper than a 120Hz, but the price hasn't plummeted to the point to where I can see spending the extra $500 for benefits that you most likely won't see.
Instead, consider a 120Hz BRAVIA, use the money you save on the TV purchase and apply it towards an extended warranty. Or, if you're set on 240Hz then you might want to consider the 240Hz LED TVs. Their picture will blow you away in ways even a 240Hz BRAVIA won't do.
120Hz - Series W, Series VE5 and Series V: If my overwhelming endorsement of 120Hz in the 240Hz section didn't answer this question then let me spell it out here - I believe that 120Hz is a better buy than 240Hz when looking at BRAVIA Sony televisions. I might change my opinion in time, but right now the return on the 240Hz investment is not enough to warrant a $500 markup.
Sorry Sony, but an unnamed salesperson at Best Buy agreed with me when I made that point to him yesterday, which is meaningful considering TV salespeople spend hours watching TVs side-by-side.
However, it's reasonable to spend more on a 120Hz BRAVIA when choosing between 120Hz and 60Hz. The improvement of the overall picture is worth the more expensive purchase price in comparison to 60Hz equivalents.
60Hz - Series S: The 60Hz BRAVIA Series S LCD TV is a good value when comparing it to prices for BRAVIA 120Hz and 240Hz models. The reason is because Series S panels have many of the same video processing features built into them as the 120Hz and 240Hz BRAVIA models, only without the super fast refresh rate. So, you're still going to get an exceptional 60Hz television.
Don't forget also that 60Hz is how you've been watching TV for most of your life. In addition, faster refresh rates like 120Hz and 240Hz are relatively new and can look weird if you're not used to the overly sharp picture. In other words, the faster refresh rates can make a real image look fake.
Bottom line when choosing your BRAVIA television is to compare pictures from various models before deciding between 60Hz, 120Hz and 240Hz. Ask questions, and when in doubt, call the manufacturer for clarification.