The TV world is loaded with acronyms and abbreviations: 4K, LED, OLED, QLED, 8K and HDR. Shopping for a new set can be confusing until you know what all those letters mean. Read on to learn about the latest TV terms to help you in your search for the perfect home theatre for your needs.

What is LED?

An LED TV is a general type of TV display technology that exists on the majority of flatscreen TVs you see today. Unless you’re talking about an OLED, plasma, or older LCD TV, it’s probably an LED TV.

So what makes up an LED TV? LED stands for Light Emitting Diode, and it’s the technology that generates light for the screen. That light passes through the LCD (liquid crystal display) panel technology in the screen to create the images you see.

Because LED lights are able to produce superior brightness, TVs are able to be much thinner than the old days.

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LED vs LCD: the difference is backlight

Part of what separates LED TVs from from older LCD TVs is how they’re backlit. Way back when, TV screens were lit with something called cathode fluorescent lights. Essentially big bulbs that are not unlike neon lights. Today, LED lights are in charge of lighting up TVs, and because of their small size, they have individual lighting capabilities so each pixel provides its own illumination.

Takeaway: LED refers to the way the TV is lit.

What is OLED?

To understand OLED, we need to back up thorough a few iterations of TV technology and the specifics of how screens are lit. While this is very complex technology, we’ll simplify it here substantially.

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OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. Light Emitting Diodes are actually tiny electrically-conductive bits made up of crystals suspended in liquid between two two sheets of glass or bendy plastic. OLED is the newest version of LED technology: in this case, organic materials like carbon are used to make up the screen.

An electric current passes through the liquid crystals, and that gets the crystals to line up so light either does—or does not— filter through.

Takeaway: OLED uses organic materials like carbon to make up the screen.

What is QLED?

Now that we know what LED is, let’s move on down the road to QLED. Not surprisingly, the “LED” portion of this acronym still stands for Light Emitting Diode, so you know we’re still talking about light to some extent.

So what’s with the Q? It stands for Quantum Dot.

What’s Quantum Dot?

Quantum Dots are simply a different way for TV screens to produce colour, which appears more saturated. The ‘dots’ are microscopic in size, and each one produces different colors depending on their individual size. As an example, the tiniest dots may kick out blue, the larger ones, red.

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It’s important to note that QLED technology was invented by Samsung. Even so, others like Vizio and Philips also build QLED TV’s.

Takeaway: QLED is Samsung’s technology which uses Quantum Dots to improve colour

What is HDR?

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.

HDR or High Dynamic Range is a new technology that promises a wider and more expansive range of brightness and shadow detail. essentially, HDR technology is about both colour, and light. It allows brighter brights without glare, and deeper blacks without losing detail in the shadows.

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HDR in a nutshell provides better colour overall, more colours and more vibrant colour. You’ll notice an improved contrast ratio with deeper blacks, brighter whites, and a starker delineation between the two. The video picture is more detailed and more realistic.

Takeaway: HDR improved colour & light replication

Which brands to consider?

When it comes to LED TVs, and HDR technology, you can find them from all brands, including Samsung, LG, Sony, Toshiba, and Sharp.

With QLED, as it’s proprietary, that you’ll only find from Samsung.

What is 8K TV?

More and more, you’ll be hearing about 8K TV. 8K is the newest TV technology that’s got twice the resolution of 4K.

To explain what 8K is, let’s back up a bit and start with 4K and HDTV.

Resolution is made up of pixels, or microscopic squares. In a 1080p Full HDTV, there are 1,920 horizontal by 1,080 vertical pixels. When TV technology improved to 4K, more pixels were added in the same space, making for a much sharper and more detailed video picture. The resolution on a 4K TV is technically 3,840 x 2,160 and the term “4K” comes by rounding the horizontal pixel count up to 4,000, or 4K. Why? It’s just easier to say and abbreviate, but you will also hear this called Ultra HD.

8K makes that leap again, cramming more pixels into the same size and shape of TV. (Remember old SD TVs and how square they were? The we got wider “letterbox” with HD?) 8K crams twice as many pixels in, now offering total image dimensions of 7680×4320. Round that 7680 up and you get 8,000 or 8K. Want to read more about this emerging technology? Click here, and if you want to be among the first in Canada to get ahold of an 8K TV for your home, you can shop this Sony 8K TV, or this Samsung 8K QLED TV.

So what TV should I buy?

When you’re shopping for a new TV, it’s possible to get many of these TV acronyms all in one amazing TV. You can find a 4K resolution set (4K TVs have millions more pixels and a higher resolution) that has HDR technology, with an LED lighting array, and from Samsung in QLED form, just as one example. 8K TVs are still a ways off, but you’ll start to hear more about them, and they’ll hit the consumer market in no time.

It makes sense to get a new TV with as much of this dynamic and realistic new technology as you can. Prices for all this goodness have dropped significantly in recent years, so you can now get a lot of technology and an extraordinarily high quality TV in a very affordable package.

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  1. The question that I would have in regards to content for higher resolution TVs is what are the speed requirements for streaming in 8K? Do we have that capability in Canada on a high scale yet? I know that in many small towns in the prairies it is tough to even get the internet speeds required for 4K streaming.

    When I was in a town north of Saskatoon a year ago the best internet speed I could get was 10 Mbps. 4K streaming recommends at least 25 Mbps, and I would assume that since 8K would quadruple the amount of pixels that it would probably require a speed somewhere in the 50 – 100 Mbps range.

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