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Friday, January 25, 2019

What Are Nits of Brightness on a TV or Other Display?

The competition between TV and display manufacturers has been heating up rapidly, and everyone is talking about how many “nits” their displays have. But what even is a nit? And why should you care?

Nits Are a Unit of Brightness

No, we’re not talking about head lice here, but rather a piece of terminology used in the tech world. Long story short, a nit is the unit of measurement that describes how bright a television, smartphone, computer monitor, laptop screen, or another type of display is. The higher the number of nits, the brighter the display.

Sounds simple, right? But doesn’t “lumens” describe brightness? And why are nits so important to you as a consumer? Let’s answer some of these questions.

What Exactly Is a “Nit” Anyway?

Interestingly enough, nit (which comes from the Latin word nitere, meaning “to shine”) isn’t an official unit of measurement since it’s not technically a part of the International System of Units or any other measurement system. The official term is actually “candela per square meter.” But we guess “nit” is easier to remember.

So let’s break it down. Since you now know that “nit” is just slang for “candela per square meter,” then you also now know that a nit is measuring two things: Luminous intensity (the candela) and area (the square meter).

As you might have guessed, “candela” is Latin for “candle.” So one candela is equal to the brightness of a single average candle. Two candelas is equal to the brightness of two candles, and so on.

When you add in square meters, you now measure the luminous intensity spread out over a surface. So one candela per square meter (or one nit) is the brightness of one candle shining onto a surface that measures one meter across and one meter down.

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