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Edge-Lit vs. Full-Array vs. Direct-Lit

Edge-Lit vs. Full-Array vs. Direct-Lit

The terms edge-lit, full-array, and direct-lit get thrown around in the display industry quite often. These names can sound pretty confusing for those who’ve just been introduced to the products. 

Luckily, we’re here to give you a thorough guide on the differences and similarities of each display type. Here’s everything you need to know about edge-lit vs. full-array vs. direct-lit displays. 

What Is an Edge-Lit Display?

TV in sunlight

For years, edge-lit LEDs have been the gold standard for video and image displays. As the name suggests, it uses LED lights along the edges of the screen to illuminate pictures that show up. They made images appear clearer and brighter to viewers. 

While edge-lit displays are still the most common displays you see, technology has allowed better displays to enter the market. These are Full-Array and Direct-Lit displays.

What Is a Full-Array Display? 

Full-array displays have small LED lights spread across the entire screen area. Hence the name “fully array.” This design improves image quality by making images look brighter, more vibrant, and more realistic. 

They’re an amazing choice for anyone wanting to upgrade their viewing experience at home. 

What Is a Direct-Lit Display?

Direct-lit displays have several rows of LED lights lining the back of the screen. It produces brighter images and vivid colors. The only difference is that it doesn’t use local dimming

Local dimming enhances the contrast ratio in dark scenes on your LED display. It makes the blacks of images look deeper, so other colors are more visible. 

TV turns on by itself

Edge-Lit vs. Full-Array vs. Direct-Lit: What’s The Difference? 

Now that we’ve discussed edge-lit, full-array, and direct-lit displays, let’s look at what makes them different and the same. 

Here’s the order of our comparisons: 

  • Edge-Lit vs. Full-Array
  • Edge-Lit vs. Direct-Lit
  • Full-Array vs. Direct-Lit

Feel free to skip forward to the specific sections you want to check out. 

Edge-Lit vs. Full-Array

Sony X9500G Full Array Backlight

Local-Dimming

Edge-lit and full-array displays both use local dimming. Both also use LED lights to support clear and vivid images.

The only difference is that one uses LED lights solely on the sides of its screen while the other has entire rows of LEDs across its back. 

Edge-lit LEDs have relatively good local dimming features. What we don’t like – and what most other users don’t like – is that edge-lit LEDs tend to bleed into the brightest parts of an image on-screen. 

You may notice streaks of light flowing into an image during night scenes in movies. There just aren’t enough LED lights to support proper local dimming. 

Luckily, manufacturers managed to solve this issue of local dimming with full-array displays. 

Full-array displays have grids of LED lights behind the LCD screen, which helps boost image quality, vividness, and color accuracy. It also has better local dimming properties, preventing light from bleeding into images. 

Size

In terms of size, edge-lit displays tend to be lighter and thinner than full-array displays. The discrepancy is due to the differences in their components and features. Full-array displays also tend to be heavier than edge-lit ones. 

Price

Full-array display prices can get pretty steep. So, they aren’t always the best choice, especially if you’re on a tight budget. 

The lower price is why edge-lit displays are still quite popular with users – they’re far more affordable compared to other options. 

Edge-Lit vs. Direct-Lit

EDGE LED vs DIRECT LED: LCD BACKLIGHT COMPARISON

Local Dimming

Direct-lit displays have ZERO local dimming. So, when compared to edge-lit displays, the latter already has the advantage in this sense. 

However, since direct-lit displays use several rows of LED lights to support image quality (similar to full-array displays), the images that direct-lit displays produce can look more vivid and clear compared to edge-lit displays. 

Size

When it comes to size, direct-lit displays are much bulkier than edge-lit displays. They also take more time and resources to reproduce. 

Edge-lit displays are thinner and much lighter than direct-lit displays. Since they require fewer resources, they’re also easier to reproduce. 

Price

Edge-lit displays prove to be the most affordable choice when it comes to LED displays. Their easier to manufacture and require fewer raw materials. 

Full-Array vs. Direct-Lit

What is Full Array in Sony LED X950G and X900F TV Series? | Sony

Local Dimming

You can look at full-array displays as the updated version of direct-lit displays. They use the same number of LED panels behind the screen. The only difference is that full-array displays have local dimming qualities while direct-lit displays have none. 

This difference makes it possible for full-array displays to produce deeper blacks and more contrast in dark scenes. So users get a more realistic viewing experience at home.

Size

Both display types are relatively the same in terms of size. They’re both thicker and much heavier compared to edge-lit displays. They also use up much more resources to reproduce. 

Price 

Due to the technology used in full-array displays, they are much more expensive than direct-lit displays. So, if you’re conflicted about buying a full-array or direct-lit display and are on a tight budget, we suggest purchasing the latter. Image quality is still great, and color vibrance and brightness are also fantastic. 

Comparison Table

  Edge-Lit Full-Array Direct-Lit
Local Dimming Average Excellent N/A
Size Light and thin Heavy and bulky Heavy and bulky
Price Budget-friendly Expensive Mid-Range

FAQs About Edge-Lit vs Full-Array vs Direct-Lit Displays

What Is Local Dimming?

Introducing Full Array Local Dimming by Hisense

Local dimming allows LED backlights on an LED TV to be individually (locally) dimmed. This technology divides the screen into “zones” programmed to improve contrast by deepening shadows in dark scenes. Although local dimming can significantly improve the contrast ratio on any display, the effect is much more noticeable when watching in a dark room. 

Besides improving black contrast, local dimming can also increase the brightness of highlights. The contrast makes HDR content look much better and life-like.

Is Local Dimming Worth It?

A couple watching 4K contents on their TV

Considering that full-array and edge-lit displays can get pretty expensive – depending on the manufacturer – it’s not uncommon for buyers to ask themselves: 

Is local dimming worth the extra hundred dollars? 

We can’t speak for everyone out there using any type of display. Yet, spending a few extra dollars to get a better display is definitely worth it if it were up to us. 

After all, what you’re getting is not another ordinary display. You’re buying better images, better colors, better light quality, and so much more. 

If your budget stops you from indulging in your local dimming fantasies, holding off from buying a new product until you have enough money is a great idea. That way, you’re still buying something you want and aren’t just settling for what’s the cheapest. 

Are Full-Array Displays Better Than OLED?

OLED vs Full Array LED: What's The Difference?

Full-array displays are great intermediate alternatives to OLED displays. Yet, it still has a long way before it can compete with OLED. 

OLED displays can dim individual pixels in images, making them more effective at controlling contrast. Meaning they don’t require local dimming like full-array and edge-lit displays. 

Are Edge-Lit Displays Better Than OLED?

OLED vs LED Edge lit - Samsung Ks-8000 vs LG OLED C6P 3D TV

Edge-lit displays perform fine in terms of local dimming and image quality. However, it still doesn’t come anywhere near the quality of full-array displays. 

That distance is twice multiplied when compared to OLED displays. 

OLED displays use diodes in place of individual LED lights. You can get deeper blacks and whiter whites in images. 

That said, OLED displays are quite susceptible to burn-in. So, you should also consider that when you’re deciding between an edge-lit LED or OLED display. 

Do Full-Array Displays Experience Burn-In?

Full-array displays aren’t as vulnerable to burn-in compared to OLED displays. They use two completely different technologies: One being LED backlights and the other being organic light-emitting diodes. 

The Bottom Line

A group of friends watching soccer on 4K TV

Edge-lit displays have LED panels installed on each side of the screen. The results are good local dimming; however, light may still bleed into images now and then. 

To avoid experiencing this issue, investing in a full-array display might be better. 

They’re more expensive and much bulkier than edge-lit displays. However, since they use multiple rows of LED lights across the entire back of the screen, it can produce better-looking images. 

Full-array displays also have better local dimming properties compared to other LED displays. 

Direct-lit displays are similar to full-array displays because they use just as many LED lights behind the screen. However, they don’t have local dimming.

With that said, it doesn’t make them any less capable of creating beautiful and clear images. Some users even claim they produce more vivid colors and sharper images than edge-lit displays. 

Ultimately, buying an edge-lit, full-array, or direct-lit display will be up to you. Consider your needs and preferences when it comes to watching movies and videos. Make a list of features that you want your new display to have. 

It’s also advisable to create a list of dealbreakers so you know what features to avoid when you’re shopping around.

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