Contrast Ratio: The contrast ratio should tell you how the brightest whites compares to the darkest darks. The greater the contrast ratio, the brighter the bright will be and the darker the darks will be. Sounds simple enough right? Wrong. TV manufacturers know that when we look at two TVs with two different numbers, we will buy the bigger number. For that reason, manufacturers have employed various means to cheat the system and produce elaborated numbers. It’s usually best to ignore the numbers, or if you really want them, find a third party review that ran their own tests. I like CNET and Home Theater Magazine. They give honest reviews and perform a battery of tests.
Refresh Rate: The refresh rate determines how many times a picture refreshes (or puts up a new image) in a second. For example, a 120hz TV refreshes the image 120 times per second. This is a really important feature for LED and LCD TVs. It’s meant to minimize jutter, and to make a smoother picture. It works very well. The reason behind it is pretty technical and has to do with the number of frames per second that are sent to your TV from a cable box or DVD player matching up with the number of times the TV refreshes in a second. Don’t worry about that too much. It’s just important to know that 120hz does the job. Some will argue that refresh rates are getting too high and are making the picture look too soft. When you start getting into 240hz and 600hz, it’s going into the “bigger numbers sell more TVs” type of thinking.