If you’re out in the market looking to buy a new TV, it’s easy to get confused by the plethora of options. There are not just different brands and their various skews; you’ve got choices with almost every individual aspect of a TV.
For example, there are multiple display sizes to choose from. If you’ve got a reasonably spacious abode, 65 inches would seem ideal. But then 75 or 80-inch TVs could be tempting too.
And if you dig into the technicalities of the device, the display type would pose several questions of its own.
Is OLED the right choice—the reigning king of displays? Or should you opt for a QLED—a more cost-efficient alternative to OLED? And what about LED-LCD TVs?
OLEDs are pretty popular. They don’t need much introduction. But QLED is the new kid on the block that needs to be looked at.
This article will, therefore, discuss in detail QLED panels, how they compare to OLED and LED displays, and whether QLED lives up to its hype.
Read on for a primer on QLED and related TV display technologies.
QLED vs. OLED, LED
Below we’ll talk about QLED and how it compares to OLED and LED screens:
QLED vs. OLED
Although the names are similar, QLED and OLED are two completely different display technologies.
What is QLED? QLED is quantum dots display technology. The “Q” in QLED denotes “quantum dots,” tiny crystals that glow with their own light in response to another light source (LED light).
A QLED TV has a layer of quantum dot nanoparticles between the LCD and the LED backlight.
Fundamentally, a QLED TV is an LCD TV. The quantum dots are the differentiating element, helping the display eke out improved performance–for instance, better brightness performance and colors–compared to a regular LCD TV.
Compared to OLEDs, QLEDs are brighter and come very close to creating those deep blacks. But how can QLED TVs develop those inky blacks if they are LCD TVs at their core?
The secret sauce lies in the tiny crystals placed over the LED lights, which break down the LED light and create light that comprises all hues or makes a broader color spectrum. The quantum dot layer produces pure monochromatic RGB light.
Although OLEDs perform better at creating those deep blacks, QLEDs perform better at delineating the subtle differences between light and dark areas. Those are details OLEDs could miss.
For instance, dark grays and other close-to-black shades on an OLED panel disappear into an inky, ambiguous mass—the phenomenon referred to as “crushed blacks.”
QLEDs, however, trail OLEDs in the color reproduction department.
By the way, who creates sharper images: QLED or OLED?
Although picture clarity and sharpness have more to do with resolution than the type of display, the panel can make a difference.
Between OLED and QLED, OLEDs tend to be sharper (at least on paper), as the pixels can turn off individually. With QLEDs, there’s light leaking behind the LCD and an afterglow that could blur the edges of bright objects.
Although local or active dimming comes to the rescue of the QLED, there is still some light leaking.
To learn more about how OLEDs and QLEDs stack up, watch this video:
QLED vs. LED
The term “LED” is short for “light-emitting diode.” It’s a microdiode that employs little semiconductor chips to produce colored light. LED is known for its low price, low power consumption, and bright visuals.
The term “LED TVs” denote LCDs backlit by LED lights. Before using LED lights, LCDs used CCFL (fluorescent tube) light, which, besides generating increased heat and using more power, was not space-efficient too.
LEDs trail OLEDs in overall picture quality—particularly color reproduction, contrasts, and viewing angles.
QLEDs help narrow the divide between OLED and LCD, making LCD technology not look very inferior to OLED. Since QLED is an improvement over LED-LCDs, it is a better display.
LED-LCDs can get very bright, much brighter than OLEDs. QLEDs retain those peak brightness levels and come very close to producing those inky blacks of OLEDs.
On the other hand, the blacks on LED TVs look darker grey. To address the same, most LED TVs use the local dimming feature to achieve deeper blacks.
QLED vs. UHD
The term “QLED” denotes the display type. On the other hand, UHD (another word for 4K) is screen resolution (3840×2160 or greater). The CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) coined the UHD term in October 2012.
The UHD terminology denotes picture sharpness and clarity. QLED focuses on brightness, color reproduction, and vividness.
Since the two display terminologies serve different purposes, they can co-exist or work separately. In other words, a QLED panel can be UHD. An OLED panel could also be a UHD panel.
Most QLED and OLED TVs are UHD TVs—QLED TVs, in particular, are almost always UHDs. Kindly note that 8K panels are also referred to as UHD.
Are QLED TVs Worth It?
Yes, QLED TVs are worth it, particularly if you don’t like LED-LCDs and are put off by the possible screen burn issues of an OLED. But QLEDs are not without their flaws.
QLED is the best of both worlds. It can get extremely bright, like an LED-LCD, and churn out blacks that are almost OLED-like, which is way better than traditional LCDs.
But the rub with QLEDs is the price. Although not as expensive as OLED, QLED TVs are pricy enough to dissuade a buyer with a budget for an LED-LCD TV.
QLED is relatively nascent and is costly to produce. More TV manufacturers making QLEDs can decrease prices, but that could take some time.
Currently, Samsung is the QLED champion, holding a monopoly over the segment.
And as a result of the market advantage and because the South Korean giant has no OLED TVs to offer, Samsung positions its QLED TVs as premium offerings, which include the Samsung Q90T and Samsung The Frame .
They directly compete against the best Sony and LG offer with their OLED TVs.
Are All QLED TVs Samsung?
No, other manufacturers such as TCL, Hisense, and Vizio also offer QLED TVs. Samsung, however, makes some of the best QLED TVs, like the Samsung QN90A .
The more established TV companies, such as LG and Sony, don’t do QLED TVs because they’re more focused on OLED for their high-end TV line-up. LG, however, showcased a QLED television at CES 2015. That was the same year Samsung launched its QLED TVs.
In 2021, LG came up with QNED, its version of quantum dot-equipped televisions. Besides incorporating LG’s proprietary NanoCELL technology and mini-LED backlights instead of traditional LED strips, QNEDs use IPS-LCD panels, not the VA-style panels that Samsung uses.
QNEDs have better viewing angles than a QLED, but the latter’s VA displays mean improved dark shadow tones.
Did Samsung invent QLED technology?
No, it was Bell Labs who devised QLED back in 1982. Samsung, however, popularized the display technology, leading to the misconception.
What is ULED?
ULED is Hisense proprietary terminology that denotes a set of Hisense hardware and software working as a team to optimize color, brightness, motion, and other aspects.
Although the Chinese multinational had planned to use the term ULED to denote its quantum-dot TVs, the abbreviation now has a broader meaning. It doesn’t denote QLED display technology only.
Some popular Hisense ULED TVs include the Hisense ULED Premium 55U8G QLED TV and Hisense ULED Premium 4K 65U6G Quantum Dot TV .
What are Mini-LEDs and Micro-LEDs?
Mini-LED is a TV display tech that uses smaller LEDs to light up LCD pixels. It’s pretty much a QLED, using smaller backlights. Mini-LED facilitates brighter images and more precise backlighting. The contrasts are more robust, and the backlight bleed is minimal.
Micro-LED is a display technology consisting of multiple microscopic LEDs shaping individual pixel elements. Micro-LEDs are self-emissive or can light themselves up like OLEDs, offering light control at the pixel level.
Mini-LEDs won’t replace LCD TVs lighting technology and requires an LCD. But micro-LED is more revolutionary since it can light up pixels on its own.
QLED is an emerging display technology knocking at the doors of OLED. Traditional LED trails the two by a reasonably long margin, but it’s not going anywhere as it’s the technology underpinning QLED.
The competition is currently between QLED and OLED. If we had to pick a winner, OLED edges out. Although QLED is not too far behind and performs better than OLED in peak brightness, it doesn’t trump OLED holistically.
And because OLEDs are self-emissive or don’t need a discrete light source, OLED TVs can afford to be extremely thin. QLEDs are thicker as they are transmissive or need an LED light strip to turn on the lights.
Whether you choose OLED over QLED or vice versa depends on your personal preferences and viewing space. If you like to watch your TV during the day or with bright lights on, a QLED will serve your purpose better.
Otherwise, look at an OLED. In dark rooms, QLED brightness could be a bit too intense.
Catherine Tramell has been covering technology as a freelance writer for over a decade. She has been writing for Pointer Clicker for over a year, further expanding her expertise as a tech columnist. Catherine likes spending time with her family and friends and her pastimes are reading books and news articles.