QLED and OLED are the two display technologies that dominate the market for contemporary TV displays. While companies like LG, Sony, Panasonic, and others boast about the excellent contrast and dark depths of their OLED TVs, Samsung, TCL, and Hisense extol the great brightness of their QLED TVs.
Are the distinctions between QLED and OLED TVs genuine, or are they just marketing gimmicks used by the electronics industry?
The origins of these rival display technologies, how they vary from one another, and what each one excels at will all be covered in this in-depth overview.
QLED vs. OLED (and not so well). We’ll also say which one we believe will make the majority of people the happiest. Spoiler alert: it’s OLED TV, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
What is LED/LCD?
Since LED and LCD are essentially interchangeable nowadays, we will group them together. However, there used to be a difference since although all LCD TVs are not LED, all LED televisions are LCD, and vice versa.
A liquid crystal display (LCD) is used in LED TVs, a subtype of LCD televisions, to regulate how and where light is shown on a screen.
To operate, LCD technology must block light. Liquid crystals are sandwiched between two pieces of polarised glass to create LCD displays. The crystals align such that light may flow through when electricity goes through them (or not).
However, they need a light source in order to perceive the image that those crystals contribute to. Cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs), which were formerly used to create the backlight for LCD TVs, have now been replaced by light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in all contemporary flatscreen televisions.
Since LEDs are more compact and effective than LCDs these days, you may assume that every LED or LCD television you see on a shelf is using the same technology.
When it comes to edge lighting and backlighting (and how much of each), LED TVs vary from one another.
The LEDs are positioned around the panel’s edge in edge lighting, which is a less expensive method of illuminating a panel.
The placement of those edge lights—top, bottom, or side in various configurations—varies according on the model and company, but the overall idea is the same across all of them.
Although edge lighting solutions tend to be less expensive for manufacturers to build and may result in a reduced profile, they also often produce a “halo”—a glow—around the edge of the screen.
Numerous businesses have discovered methods to reduce this impact to the point that extremely premium edge lighting choices occasionally match the quality of full-array backlighting.
Whole-array backlighting sets a full array of LEDs behind the LCD and allows for “local dimming” based on the content being shown.
Although it is a complex subject, in general the more local dimming “zones,” the greater the contrast and the more precisely an LED television can display brights and darks in an image.
What Mini LED?
The concept of local dimming backlights is advanced by mini LED. A Mini LED technology employs LEDs that are far smaller than standard LEDs to cover the whole panel as opposed to a few zones (generally less than 0.2mm in size).
Additionally capable of independently dimming, mini LEDs result in several dimming zones.
For instance, depending on the manufacturer, most LED TVs may have anywhere from 10 to as many as 450 local dimming zones.
More than 1,000 will be found in a Mini LED television. A Mini LED may provide substantially darker blacks and superb contrast with that many dimming zones.
Additionally, Mini LEDs have a high peak brightness, and some businesses have been able to create TVs with peak brightnesses of up to 1,000 nits. When the darks are controlled to that extent, HDR image quality may be excellent.
Mini LED screens are quite lovely, as you would assume, but they also aren’t inexpensive.
What is OLED?
Organic Light-Emitting Diode is the official name. Unexpectedly, the name’s “Light Emitting-Diode” component has nothing to do with an LED backlight.
Instead, it describes how each and every single pixel on an OLED screen is an exceedingly thin, teeny-tiny LED light that is capable of producing both light and colour in a single element.
In other words, because each OLED pixel generates its own light, OLED TVs do not need a backlight. You might refer to these kind of presentations as emissive or self-emissive in order to impress your peers.
There are a number of benefits to this design, but most people would agree that the outstanding black level that is possible with OLED TVs is the main benefit.
An OLED TV simply shuts off the pixels that make up the dark areas of the screen, as opposed to a QLED or LED TV that must decrease its backlight and block the residual light for gloomy or completely black situations.
When a pixel is off, it doesn’t produce any light or colour, thus the area is as black as when the TV is off.
OLED TV panels are only produced by LG Display. It sells such panels to LG Electronics, a sibling business, which utilises them to create some of the greatest TVs available today.
You will also find OLED TVs from Sony, Vizio, Philips, and Panasonic since LG Display also supplies OLED panels to these businesses.
The image processing done by Sony, LG, and others is proprietary, so even while the panels themselves are largely equal, you’ll still notice variations in picture quality across OLED TVs.
What is QD-OLED?
In 2022, a brand-new form of OLED panel called QD-OLED will be available. As it sounds, it combines the advantages of OLED with Quantum Dots to produce a screen that many are hailing as a significant advancement in television technology.
I spoke to Sony to have a better understanding of this distinction. Sony is qualified to discuss the possibilities from a position of experience since the corporation manufactures a range of TV kinds, including LED, OLED, and, most recently, QD-OLED.
According to Sony, the main distinction between QD-OLED and OLED is that the former does not require colour filters to produce primary colours (RGB), whilst the latter does.
“This one fact explains the differences between QD-OLED and OLED in colour brightness, colour volume, colour gamut, primary colour accuracy, and off-angle colour fidelity.
In actuality, colour filters are used by all OLED and LED TVs, including QLED, making them more similar to one another in terms of colour reproduction than QD-OLED, which is unique in this respect.
Because QD OLEDs better optimise the amount of power being pumped through the organic diodes, they may become substantially brighter than conventional OLED TVs.
The majority of OLEDs begin with a white screen made of blue and yellow OLED material. To produce the colours we see on a TV, this is then put behind the colour filter.
Although this method begins with white, the colours must be divided into the red, green, and blue hues that make up what we see on the screen.
The advantage of this method is that it is more cost-effective for some of the bigger panels that are planned for TVs. This is accomplished by passing the light through the aforementioned colour filter, which lowers brightness.
QD OLEDs start with a blue OLED instead of a white one, using the same principle as QLED TVs.
“QLED is merely one method for producing a display that can handle a wide colour gamut (WCG). WCG LED TVs have a blue LED backlight that must be converted to white before passing through a colour filter.
QLED displays transform blue to white by adding a layer of QD material on the LCD screen, whereas Sony Triluminos Display TVs do it inside the backlight (behind the LCD panel), according to Sony.
Each pixel in OLED TVs has a red, green, and blue component. When combined, these components generate white light that is then transmitted through a colour filter.
White LEDs, which are different from the white light produced by a blue light conversion or RGB combination in OLED, are used in non-WCG LED TVs as their backlight. This results in a smaller colour volume/gamut capacity when the light is passed through a colour filter.
This blue OLED pixel is split into three parts in QD-OLEDs: one part preserves the original blue colour, one part has a red subpixel made of a red-tuned quantum dot, and one more part has a green subpixel made of a green-tuned quantum dot.
We previously spoke about how Quantum Dots improve colour without noticeably losing brightness, and in this instance, it is also true: we obtain a bright but yet color-accurate image.
Although quantum dots are used by both QLEDs and QD OLEDs, their methods of doing so differ.
While QD technology is used by both QD-OLED and QLED, Sony claims that the two display types are not at all connected.
“QD improves colour brightness, colour volume, colour gamut, primary colour accuracy, and off-angle colour fidelity in the case of OLED.
In the case of LED, QD and other WCG technologies are not significantly dissimilar. The brightness, colour volume, colour gamut, and primary colour accuracy of WCG TVs (including QD) are improved.
Overall, though, QD OLED technology has a number of advantages over conventional OLED technology, including the ability to get brighter, greater colour reproduction, and increased energy efficiency.
Additionally, because QD OLEDs utilise less energy to attain greater brightness than a normal OLED, they won’t be as susceptible to burn-in since less energy is being directed through the organic pixels.
QD OLED TVs are now scarce and costly, but because they are less complicated than traditional OLEDs, there is reason to think that they will become more widely available in the future.
QLED versus OLED: Which technology is better?
Now that you are aware of what each of those letters in display technology stands for, let’s compare QLED vs OLED in the areas that are most important when choosing a TV:
brightness, contrast, viewing angles, and other significant performance factors. Each of these matters when you’re spending a lot of money on a new TV.
Black levels and contrast
The distinction between a scene’s darkest and brightest areas is known as contrast. To obtain strong levels of contrast, a TV doesn’t need to make the brilliant areas too bright if it can give a genuinely black dark area.
Because of its capacity to become entirely black when necessary, OLED reigns as the clear champion when it comes to black levels.
Contrarily (oops), QLED TVs are compelled to decrease their LED backlights and block the remaining light, which is incredibly challenging to achieve flawlessly.
When light leaks from a bright spot onto what should be a dark portion of the screen, it might cause phenomenon known as “light bleed.”
But can you see it? Definitely. If you’re viewing a movie with a wider aspect ratio than 16:9 and two actors are sprinting through a parking lot at night, for instance, you can detect a small glow on sections of the picture that are meant to be completely dark or in the letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the screen.
Mini-LED backlights are one strategy used by QLED TV manufacturers to address this issue, as we previously mentioned. Although we’re not quite ready to call it an OLED killer, it has genuine promise.
Right now, OLED is the winner. A non-powered OLED pixel remains completely dark and incapable of producing any light.
The brightness of QLED TVs is a significant benefit. These LED backlights can be made exceedingly, painfully brilliant — more than bright enough to be seen clearly in even the brightest lighted environments — because they employ independent backlights (instead than depending on each pixel to provide its own light).
On the basis of pure brightness, OLED screens are incomparable. Simply put, each individual light-emitting pixels can’t generate the same quantity of light.
This is not an issue in a dark space. In fact, we’d say it’s better since OLED can provide the same contrast with less brightness, which makes viewing in a dark environment less jarring to the retina.
(That’s in addition to the fact that your electricity bill will be much simpler.) However, QLED TVs are more noticeable in well-lit areas or when a lot of sunshine enters via windows – particularly if HDR material is being played in these settings.
OLED panels have improved in brightness over the years, but they still fall short of QLED TVs in brightness.
The use of quantum dots in QLED TVs has reportedly allowed it to edge ahead in terms of colour accuracy, colour brightness, and colour volume, according to Samsung, which asserts that a wider range of better-saturated colours at extreme brightness levels is an advantage. OLED previously blew all the competition in this category out of the water.
It’s undeniable that these quantum dot TVs produce amazing colours, but for now, we’re going to call it a draw since we haven’t seen better-saturated colours at high brightness levels really provide a genuine benefit in everyday viewing settings. To deem QLED the winner, we’ll need to see some observable proof.
Response time, input lag, and refresh rate
The amount of time it takes for a pixel to change from one state to another is referred to as response time. The sharper the visual, particularly in situations of rapid-fire action, the quicker the reaction time.
OLED TVs are orders of magnitude quicker than QLED TVs, despite the fact that there may be a speed of reaction time beyond which the human eye cannot distinguish between differences.
When compared to OLED’s reaction time of roughly 0.1 milliseconds, which is typically 2 to 8 milliseconds, typical QLED response times seem very excellent. Yes, there is no contest.
The difference between performing an action (such pushing a button on a gaming controller) and seeing the outcome onscreen is known as input lag.
As a result, input latency is basically primarily a problem for games; it has no discernible impact on passively watching information.
Additionally, the degree of input lag you encounter has less to do with the kind of display technology used than it does with how much picture processing is taking on on your TV in the background.
If you disable all further visual processing or only utilise the TV’s Game Mode, which does the same thing, both QLED and OLED TVs may achieve extremely low levels of input latency.
Another category that will naturally matter more to gamers than to non-gamers is refresh rate. The refresh rate is the frequency at which a television changes what is shown on the screen.
It is closely connected to frame rate, which refers to how often your TV programme, movie, or video game updates the TV.
You won’t have any issues as long as these two rates are near multiples of one another, such as a frame rate of 30 frames per second and a refresh rate of twice that (60 Hz).
This is seldom ever a worry since ordinary TV material, such movies and TV series, is always transmitted at stable frame rates.
However, certain PC and console games will alter their frame rate from one scene to the next. TVs need a function known as VRR, or variable refresh rate, to maintain everything appearing as it should.
This enables your TV to adjust its native refresh rate to keep up with these frame rate fluctuations. When utilised with the sorts of games that need VRR, a TV that doesn’t support VRR may have certain undesirable side effects, such as screen tearing.
VRR was previously exclusively available on OLED TVs, but as of 2022, it is now also accessible on certain QLED TVs, demonstrating how fiercely this competition is still being fought.
Even though most people would never notice the difference, we’re awarding the victory to OLED because to its unrivalled supremacy in reaction speed.
The ideal viewing angle for QLED panels is dead centre, and as you go farther side to side or up and down, the image quality declines in brightness, colour, and contrast.
Despite the TV manufacturers’ best attempts to fix the problem, it is always apparent, even if the intensity varies across models.
OLED panels, in contrast, may be seen at extreme viewing angles (up to 84 degrees) without any brightness reduction.
Anti-reflective coatings have helped certain QLED TVs’ viewing angles, but OLED still has a distinct edge.
Therefore, an OLED TV is excellent for you if you like to organise family screenings of your favourite movies and want to ensure that there isn’t a terrible seat in the house.
OLEDs have advanced considerably. OLED panels may be as large as 55 inches while the technology was in its infancy.
Today, you can get QLED TVs up to 98 inches in size and OLED TVs up to 97 inches. Although OLED prices continue to rise as panel sizes increase, QLED is no longer the only option for really big screens.
QLED versus OLED: The verdict
Although each of these technologies is spectacular in its own right, we’re here to choose a winner, and at the moment, that victor is OLED.
It still offers the greatest image quality you can get, with improved performance in the areas that the majority of viewers would notice when watching TV episodes and movies.
On paper, QLED wins because it offers more brightness, a longer lifespan, cheaper prices, and less danger of burn-in.
On the other hand, OLED is better for gaming, has a wider viewing angle, deeper black depths, consumes less electricity, and may be healthier for your health.
However, it is difficult to choose between the two since they are both excellent. Although OLED technology shines when you can regulate the lighting in your space, QLED is the best all-around option.
One more thing: QD-OLED
After highlighting the distinctions between QLED and OLED, we have one more option for you to think about: QD-OLED, or quantum dot-OLED.
QD-OLED, as the name indicates, combines quantum dots with OLED display technologies. Here’s the 101 on QD-OLED before we get into all the (very amazing) details:
All of the aforementioned advantages of OLED are retained with QD-OLED, which also offers even greater brightness and colour accuracy.
Really, is it that good? In our opinion, yes. We’ve examined the only two QD-OLED TVs currently on the market, the excellent S95B from Samsung and the A95K from Sony (both available in 55- and 65-inch sizes), and we believe the A95K has the greatest display we’ve ever seen.
With the Dell Alienware 34-inch QD-OLED display, gamers can also join in on the QD-OLED action.
On an inch-by-inch basis, QD-OLED is still more costly than both OLED and QLED, and we anticipate that to remain the case in the foreseeable future. But there’s no denying that QD-OLED is now the gold standard for those who just want the finest.