Both the staff and forum members here at OCC know the importance of specifications when making hardware purchasing decisions, but knowing how to interpret the specifications manufacturers quote is just as important as the numbers themselves. For example, we know very well that processor speed in raw megahertz isn't always a reliable indicator of performance. In the case of displays, how manufacturers arrive at the numbers they choose to publish can essentially mean they provide no meaningful insight whatsoever. In an article for Maximum PC, Dr. Raymond Soneira (president of DisplayMate Technologies Corporation) sets out in clear and thorough terms just how manufacturers artificially inflate specifications such as contrast ratios or response times in order to claim an advantage over the competition.
All of this leads to confusion amongst consumers (higher numbers must be better right?), with marketing winning out over providing standardised specifications that can actually be used to compare products. Dr. Soneira's call for the creation of an independent organization that could provide the framework for a standardised way of measuring and advertising display specs seems to be an eminently sensible one.