Difference Between 60 Hz & 120 Hz Refresh on LED TVs

By Luke Arthur

The refresh rate of an LED TV is one statistic customers get to consider when making a decision about which television to buy. Advertisers and retailers may focus on a higher refresh rate it as a benefit, but while the difference between a 60 Hz refresh rate and a 120 Hz refresh rate may seem substantial, in practice it may not create a noticeable difference to the viewer.

LED Technology

This is how LED televisions work: an LED TV is a variation of a liquid crystal display or LCD TV. It works by using light on the back of the display to illuminate the picture on the screen. Regular LCD screens use cold cathode fluorescent bulbs to do this, while LED TVs use thinner light emitting diodes to accomplish the same thing. Some LED TV manufacturers put the lights on the edge of the display so that they can make the TVs thinner.

Refresh Rate Explained

When you see a 60Hz or 120Hz figure displayed on television, it refers to its refresh rate, which tells you how quickly a television can refresh an image on the screen. While this is not noticeable to the average person, a television does not actually show movement; it shows a series of images that are flashed up on the screen at a very rapid speed. With a 60Hz TV the image is flashed on the screen 60 times per second. 120Hz televisions refresh the image 120 times each second.

Motion Blur

High refresh rates are reduce motion blur when watching fast motion content. For example, when watching a football game, the players on the field are moving at a fast rate. This means that the television has to refresh quickly to show you what is going on in the game. If the image is not refreshed fast enough, you may be able to notice a small blur behind the moving objects on the screen. The blur is simply what you see when the fast moving item is not refreshed as quickly as it is moving across the screen. You see traces of the image remaining.

Importance of Refresh Rate

The importance of refresh rate on an LED TV is debatable. According to Will Greenwald of PCMag.com in an article published in February 2011, most people cannot tell the difference between 60 Hz and 120 Hz refresh rates when watching television. although it is perceptible in laboratory tests. Because of this, paying extra for a higher refresh rate alone may not make sense for the consumer. Instead, other factors should weigh into the decision of which TV to buy. Consider factors with more direct effect on your viewing, such as contrast ratio, screen resolution and whether the LED is back-lit or edge-lit.