There are so many different abbreviations you’ll see when shopping for an LED TV. It can make shopping confusing, but the good news is as soon as you understand the terminology, you’ll have an easy time narrowing down your choice of LED TV.
What’s the difference between LED and LCD?
All LED TVs are LCD, but not all LCD are LED TVs. Sound confusing? It’s actually a pretty simple concept once you know what these terms stand for.
What is LCD?
LCD stands for liquid crystal display. A liquid crystal is a molecule that can be both a solid and a liquid. These liquid crystals sit in a layer on your TV that’s placed between a layer of pixels and a layer of subpixels. Pixels are small dots that have the power to emit coloured lights.
Most of the time the liquid crystals are in liquid form, but when they are exposed to electricity via pixels, the liquid crystal will expand, become solid, and form a specific shape so light can pass through them.
What is LED?
LED stands for Light Emitting Diodes. You can think of these diodes as small lamps that produce light inside the TV.
Technically LED and LCD are one and the same because both types use liquid crystals within the display, but if the TV you buy is just LCD, the lights inside the display are fluorescent. These lights are placed in locations behind the screen so every area of the display will have the same level of brightness.
If the TV you buy is LED, the lights will be Light Emitting Diodes. These lights are smaller than the fluorescent lights used in an LCD so there are a lot more of them. There are two types of LED backlights – edge and full array. In an edge TV, the LEDs are placed along the edge of the screen and in a full array TV, the LEDs span the entire back of the screen.
What is local dimming?
When you’re looking at Full Array and Edge you’ll also see the term local dimming. Local dimming is a way for your LED TV to improve the contrast between light and dark scenes. TVs with local dimming divide your screen into different sections so they can dim certain areas when the content calls for black, and that dimming makes the blacks deeper. It also works for colour, and if you’re watching HDR content it can brighten what you see on the screen.
Now that we’ve defined LED vs LCD, here’s a look at the types of LED TVs, how they work, and how they measure up against each other.
What is OLED?
When you understand that LED stands for light emitting diode, it’s very easy to understand OLED. OLED stands for organic light emitting diode, and that just means that the diodes in the TV are made of organic materials like carbon. OLEDs are very tiny, much smaller than standard LEDs, but they also light up when each pixel has electricity applied. Unlike a standard LED TV that works with a backlight, an OLED TV is self-illuminating. Each pixel can emit its own light.
Because OLEDs are self illuminating, they have the power to turn off and on all on their own like a light switch. The easiest way to understand this is to imagine you are standing in a dark room at night. In an OLED room, there is no light source other than those diodes, so when you flick the switch and turn them off, the room will go pitch black.
In contrast, if you were standing in that same room and all of your lights were LED, you’d also notice there was a lamp or a bunch of lamps running in different areas of the room. You can never those lamps completely off, so when you flip the switch and turn off the LEDs the room will go dark but you’ll still see a bit of light too. That’s why an LED TV can never project true black.
Should you choose an OLED TV?
An OLED display has a superior picture over a standard LED TV. The contrast, colour, and brightness will outshine every other type of display, and if you want a TV with true black, an OLED is your best choice.
One thing you’ll want to keep in mind is that OLED is made up of organic material, and as such, the pixels may degrade over time. That’s why OLED TVs may have an issue called ‘burn in,’ also known as a ghostly image that stays on the screen when you turn it off. As technology has developed, burn in has become less of a problem on OLED TVs.
OLED is also one of the most expensive types of displays available, but their price point has been dropping as new models become available.
What is QLED?
QLED stands for quantum dot light emitting diodes. A QLED TV is still an LED TV, but that TV has a layer of quantum dots added over the diodes. These dots are microscopic in size, and each one produces a different colour depending on their size. Adding that layer of quantum dots over the LEDs results in a TV that can produce significantly brighter colours, better contrast, and deeper blacks. The picture quality is sharp, clear, and more vivid than a standard LED TV can produce.
QLED technology was invented by Samsung, but there are many other manufacturers who are on board with QLED TVs including TCL and Hisense. A QLED TV is more expensive than an LED TV, but if you looked at the two side by side when you’re choosing between a 4K LED and a 4K QLED, it will be very plain to see that the QLED is worth spending extra on.
What is Mini-LED TV?
A Mini-LED TV is a type of LED TV, but the diodes are a fifth of the size of a standard LED. Because they are so small, thousands of these Mini-LEDs can be packed into a display. The result is better image quality, brighter colours, and darker blacks for everything you watch.
Because a Mini-LED is the light source for the TV, you can find this technology in QLED TVs. With that additional layer of quantum dots, a QLED Mini-LED TV runs a close second to OLED TV. They have vivid colour, real-to-life picture quality, and sharp contrast in the same way an OLED does.
If you stood in front of a 4K QLED Mini-LED TV and a 4K OLED TV, you would probably notice that the OLED can project pitch black and the colours would be slightly brighter than the QLED Mini-LED. That will matter if you’re a gamer or you want to watch movies at home that are theatre-level quality. If you’re a casual TV and movie watcher, it’s something you have to really focus on to see. That’s why QLED Mini-LED TVs are flying off the shelves – they are less expensive than an OLED and the picture quality is almost, but not quite, as perfect.
What is MicroLED?
MicroLED is a technology you’ll be hearing about a lot more over the next year. MicroLED is similar to OLED in that they are self-illuminating, but instead of organic light emitting diodes a MicroLED is a tiny non-organic LED that’s used at 3 per pixel. Each pixel can turn off, on, or display a completely different colour than the pixel beside it.
MicroLED will stand shoulder to shoulder with OLED because they have spectacular picture quality, increased brightness, are very power-efficient, and because they non-organic LEDS, have a longer lifespan. Given how the technology works, a MicroLED TV should also be less expensive than OLED in the long run.
We’ll get a better idea of when MicroLED TVs will be released over the next year, but it’s safe to say that this technology will soon be extremely important to the future of home theatres.
Which LED TV should you buy?
Now that you’re an expert on all types of LED TV, it will be easy to choose the right TV for you. Shop Best Buy right now for all makes, models, and sizes of LED TV.