These are halcyon days for TV technology. Ultra HD 4K is now
established, 8K TVs are becoming more common. HDR is readily available, and streaming puts a near-infinite supply of content at our fingerprints all day, every day.
But these are also confusing times for TV technology, with new acronyms and marketing terms popping up raining down like confetti at the wedding of the managing director of a confetti company.
One of the ongoing confusions lies in the comparison between the two technologies competing at the premium end of the TV market: OLED and QLED.
So what exactly are they, what’s the difference, and which is in pole position if you want the best possible picture? Allow us to fill you in.
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What is Qled?
QLED stands for Quantum Light-Emitting Diode.
In non-geek-speak, that means a QLED TV is just like a regular LED TV, except it uses tiny nanoparticles called quantum dots to super-charge its brightness and color.
The technology was introduced by Sony in 2013, but shortly after that, Samsung began selling its QLED TVs and established a licensing partnership with other manufacturers, which is why you’ll now find QLED TVs from Sony, Vizio, Hisense, and TCL.
As cool as quantum dots are, a QLED TV still produces light more or less the same way as a regular LED TV: by using a backlight made up of hundreds (or in some cases thousands) of LEDs, which sits behind a traditional LCD panel.
It’s these LEDs that give LED (and QLED) TV its name.
What is Oled?
OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode. Somewhat surprisingly, the “Light Emitting-Diode” part of that name has nothing to do with an LED backlight as it does with QLED and LED TVs.
Instead, it refers to the fact that every single pixel in an OLED TV is also a teeny, tiny LED light — but one that is incredibly thin and
can produce both light and color in a single element.
In other words, OLED TVs don’t need a backlight because each
pixel produces its own light.
If you want to impress your friends, you can use the
industry terms for these kinds of displays: “emissive,” or “self-emissive.”
There are several advantages to this design, but most would
agree that when it comes to OLED TVs, the biggest advantage is the superb black level that can be achieved.
Unlike a QLED or LED TV that must dim its backlight and block what remains for dark scenes, an OLED TV simply turns off the pixel.
When the pixel is off, it emits no light and no color, making it as dark as to when the TV itself is turned off.
With no separate backlight, it’s also a lot easier to make an OLED screen flexible, which is why OLED pioneer LG has developed several OLED TVs that roll up (or down) to disappear entirely.
Qled Vs Oled Tv
Now that you know what all those letters stand for, and what they mean in terms of display technology, let’s compare QLED to OLED in the categories that matter most when buying a TV: Brightness, contrast, viewing
angles, and other notable performance considerations, like response time and lifespan — all important factors when you’re shelling out up to $6,000 for a top-of-the-line TV.
Qled Vs Oled Tv: Brightness
QLED TVs have a considerable advantage when it comes to brightness.
Because they use separate backlights (instead of relying on
each pixel to create its own light) these LED backlights can be made
incredibly, achingly bright.
Add a quantum dot’s ability to maximize that light by producing brighter hues in the color spectrum without losing saturation and you’ve got a display that is more than bright enough to be seen clearly in even the most brightly lit rooms.
OLED panels can’t compete on a pure brightness basis.
Their light-emitting individual pixels simply can’t produce the same amount of light.
In a darkened room, this isn’t a problem.
In fact, we’d argue it’s preferable because OLED can achieve the same contrast with less brightness, making dark-room viewing a less retina-searing experience.
But in well-lit environments, or where lots of daylight streams in through windows, QLED TVs are more visible — especially if you’re playing HDR content under these conditions.
OLED panels have become brighter over the years, but they still can’t match QLED TVs.
Qled Vs Oled Tv: Size
OLEDs have come a long way. When the tech was still nascent, OLED screens maxed out at 55 inches.
Today, screen sizes as large as 88 inches are possible, but only at great expense — the $30,000 price puts it out of reach for almost
QLED technology is easier and less expensive to produce at larger
Samsung’s 85-inch Q900TS 8K QLED TV is only $8,000,
while its largest consumer model currently measures 98 inches.
Qled Vs Oled Tv: Lifespan
LG says you would have to watch its OLED TVs five hours per day
for 54 years before they fell to 50% brightness.
Whether that’s true remains to be seen, as OLED TVs have only been out in the wild since 2013.
QLED is even newer, but its source of backlighting — the LED — has a long and proven track record.
For that reason and that reason only, we’ll award this category to QLED.
Qled Vs Oled Tv: The Verdict
Both of these technologies are impressive in their own ways,
but we’re here to pick a winner, and for the moment, it’s OLED.
With better performance in the categories that most people will
notice while watching TV shows and movies, it’s the best picture quality you
QLED comes out on top of the paper, delivering a higher brightness,
longer lifespan, larger screen sizes, and lower price tags.