Technology labelling Technology labelling explained

Good, clear labelling should tell you about useful new features and help you to compare products, but Which? has found that some technology tags don’t do what they should. 

Labelling on electrical items, such as TVs, often contain confusing claims and is not consistent across brands. 

This makes it hard to make an informed choice.

Confusing numbers

TVs in shops are often labelled with contrast ratio and motion-processing information (see TV labelling), which you’d assume would be comparable between brands. 

In reality, this information can mean different things depending on the manufacturer. 

Long numbers can imply some models are better than they actually are – but bigger numbers don’t always equal better quality.

Which? experts test product claims and often find that they are not supported by our tests results. See TV labelling and digital camera labelling for the truth behind the labels.

Buying a TV

Don't be put off by sales assistants' jargon

Unhelpful sales assistants

Which? has found that shop staff often repeat these claims without scrutinising them and we have raised the labelling issues we found with the Advertising Standards Authority

We conducted a snapshot survey (we visited one branch each of John Lewis, Richer Sounds, Currys and Comet in Cambridge on 15 April 2010) to see how different shops handled labelling questions.

Richer Sounds 

The adviser was great, correctly identifying contrast ratio as something that couldn’t usually be compared between brands. 

He reckoned 600Hz ‘was a bit of cheeky advertising’ and not ‘six times better than 100Hz’ and added: ‘You wouldn’t want to use 100Hz all the time, it’s generally for sports’, and demonstrated some unnatural looking side effects.

John Lewis

Their staff member proved to be knowledgeable, calling contrast ratio a ‘nonsense thing’ adding that the store was wary about reprinting 600Hz claims. 

It is John Lewis policy not to reprint 400Hz or 600Hz logos on its tickets as it ‘would be just confusing to customers’. 

They have dumped contrast ratio figures for the same reason.


The adviser claimed that ‘600Hz is the fastest movement you can get’ with ‘less flicker’ and that the higher the contrast ratio the better the picture, with no mention of the difficulty in comparing contrast ratio between brands. 

The Currys’ adviser did, however, say that it was difficult for the human eye to tell the difference between 100Hz and 200Hz, and correctly identified 600Hz as being unique to plasma TVs – but there was no mention of any of the potential picture side effects.