QLED vs. OLED TV: What’s the distinction, and why does it matter?

There’s a brand new(ish) form of TV on the town, and it’s known as QLED. Samsung coined and trademarked the time period, asserting the primary QLED TVs at CES 2017, however it isn’t protecting that acronym solely for itself. Sources at Samsung inform Digital Tendencies they wish to see different corporations undertake the QLED moniker for his or her quantum-dot infused LED TVs, too. To show it, the South Korean electronics big solid a partnership with Chinese language producers Hisense and TCL, asserting a QLED Alliance in late April 2017, and TCL now has a QLED line of TVs.

As you will have surmised, an alliance implies there may be an enemy, and on this case, that might be OLED. Sounds prefer it’s time for a QLED vs. OLED TV battle!

QLED refers to an LED TV utilizing quantum dots to reinforce its efficiency.

OLED TVs have obtained excessive reward from tech journalists and reviewers throughout the board, together with Digital Tendencies; LG’s C8 OLED received our reward because the finest TV in 2018, for instance. However till not too long ago, LG was the one title within the OLED recreation, and premium value tags lengthy put them out of attain of most shoppers. Now that Sony is bringing competitors to the market with its personal amazing-looking OLED TVs and LG’s OLED lineup has expanded to incorporate extra reasonably priced fashions, the warmth is on QLED know-how. Samsung appears poised to satisfy the problem, although, updating the know-how in subsequent QLED strains to try to shut the hole.

For these causes – to not point out the phrase QLED appears to be like and sounds quite a bit like OLED — it’s necessary to match the deserves of those dueling show applied sciences. First, we’ll focus on what every know-how is — and isn’t — earlier than pitting them in opposition to one another in a point-by-point battle for supremacy.

What’s QLED?

Typically talking, QLED TVs are simply LED TVs that use quantum dots to reinforce efficiency in key image high quality areas. Samsung, nevertheless, claims its QLED TVs are particular, providing brightness ranges that exceed any competing TV know-how, higher black ranges than different LED TVs, and extra colours than LED TVs with out quantum dots can reproduce.

How? Quantum dots act virtually like a filter that produces purer gentle than LEDs alone can present. It’s sophisticated, however you possibly can study all of the science behind QLED right here.

Quantum dots emit sensible colour in a slender wavelength when uncovered to the appropriate gentle, making them very best for TVs. (Credit score: Samsung)

To fulfill the Extremely HD Alliance’s requirements for an Extremely HD Premium TV, most LED TVs should use quantum dots in some style. Since quantum dots at the moment are deployed so extensively throughout premium TVs, Samsung thinks it will scale back confusion if each producer simply began calling them QLED TVs. The objective is to distinguish them from mere LED TVs and push again in opposition to OLED, as Samsung has no plans to supply an OLED TV right now. Nonetheless, the corporate does have one other OLED competitor within the works known as MicroLED. It is a separate know-how from QLED TVs, so it received’t think about right here, however based mostly on what we noticed at CES 2019, MicroLED has the potential to deliver some severe competitors to OLED, particularly almost about brightness and black ranges.

What QLED isn’t

QLED isn’t an emissive show know-how, like plasma, OLED, or MicroLED. Quantum dots don’t straight emit the colours you see; they’re unfold on a bit of movie that acts virtually like a filter inside an LED TV panel. LED backlights beam by way of this movie, the sunshine is refined to a really perfect colour temperature, and from there, brightness and colour are considerably enhanced.

If quantum dots produced gentle on their very own, QLED could possibly be known as an emissive show — however they don’t … but.

However TV fanatics have been hoping for a special form of QLED TV, one through which particular person quantum dots might be turned on and off with electrical energy like an OLED — no want for a backlight system, and no LCD panel concerned. If the quantum dots have been producing gentle on their very own, then we might name QLED an emissive show know-how – at current, nevertheless, it’s not.

What’s OLED?

OLED stands for natural light-emitting diode. Merely put, OLEDs are made with natural compounds that may gentle up individually when fed electrical energy — therefore the time period emissive show. A single OLED is the scale of 1 pixel, so it takes tens of millions of them lighting up and shutting off independently to fill your TV display screen. Due to this flexibility, when an OLED TV’s pixels are shut off, they’re utterly off and seem utterly black. Whereas QLED TVs might be made very skinny, OLED TVs might be made even thinner, and may even be versatile.


Now we’ll pit the 2 applied sciences in opposition to each other to see how they stack up by way of distinction, viewing angle, brightness, and different efficiency concerns.

Black stage

A show’s capacity to supply deep, darkish blacks is arguably an important think about attaining a wonderful image high quality. Deeper blacks permit for greater distinction and richer colours (amongst different issues) and, thus, a extra life like and dazzling picture. In terms of black ranges, OLED reigns because the undisputed champion.

Wealthy Shibley/Digital Tendencies

Wealthy Shibley/Digital Tendencies

QLED TVs enhance on LED show black stage efficiency, however they nonetheless depend on backlights shining behind an LCD panel. Even with superior dimming know-how, which selectively dims LEDs that don’t must be on at full blast, QLED TVs nonetheless undergo from an impact known as “gentle bleed,” because the backlight spills by way of on what is meant to be a black part of the display screen. This impact is noticeable in scenes with vibrant stars on an evening sky, or within the letterbox bars on the prime and backside of a film. The result’s a slight haze or halo round vibrant objects which blurs strains that must be sharp.

These points have been round since lengthy earlier than the appearance of QLED, and so they’re inherent to the character of the panels, however Samsung made a quantum leap in 2018 (get it?), bettering black ranges and off-angle image efficiency to near-OLED ranges, due to the addition of a brand new anti-reflective layer within the panels. We count on the hole to proceed shrinking in 2019 as QLED tech grows.

OLED TVs undergo from none of those issues. If an OLED pixel isn’t getting electrical energy, it doesn’t produce any gentle and is, subsequently, completely black. Feels like an apparent option to us.

Winner: OLED


In terms of succesful brightness, QLED TVs have a substantial benefit. LED TVs have been already good at getting extraordinarily vibrant, however the addition of quantum dots permits them to get even brighter. Due to this, QLED TVs declare superior “colour quantity,” which means they can make all colours within the out there spectrum brighter with out shedding saturation. QLED TV makers additionally declare they’re higher for HDR content material as a result of spectral highlights in photos – the glint of sunshine reflecting off a lake or a shiny automobile, as an illustration – are extra highly effective and extra simply seen.

In rooms with a variety of ambient gentle, a QLED’s brightness benefit might be very useful.

samsung hisense tcl qled alliance announcement

In terms of that HDR argument, although, a lot might be stated for the whole distinction afforded by an OLED TV’s good black ranges. Whenever you begin from good black, perceived distinction requires much less intense brightness in these highlighted areas for HDR programming, and the tip outcome for the viewer is much like that of a a lot brighter QLED TV — at the very least in a darkish room, anyway. In rooms with a variety of ambient gentle, a QLED’s brightness benefit might be very useful for delivering that large visible punch HDR content material ought to ship.

Samsung’s 2018 flagship fashions — the Q9 and Q8 — added full array native dimming, which solely provides to the corporate’s benefit by way of peak luminance. A brand new anti-reflective coating, together with different panel enhancements, has additionally decreased the halo — or, blooming — impact TV reviewers complain about. Brightness with out a few of the LED disadvantages? That’s trying very interesting, certainly.

Winner: QLED

Shade area

OLED used to rule this class, however quantum dots, by bettering the purity of the backlight, have allowed QLED TVs to surge ahead in colour accuracy, colour brightness, and colour quantity, placing them in a lifeless warmth with OLED TVs. Once more, QLED makers declare better-saturated colours at excessive brightness ranges to be a bonus, however we have now but to witness this technical declare leading to an actual benefit in regular viewing conditions.

Samsung has applied expanded colour quantity in its 2018 QLED fashions, which might enhance saturation at greater brightness ranges, however we don’t actually have sufficient proof to declare it a hit.

Winner: Draw

Response time

Response time refers back to the time it takes for every particular person diode to alter from “on” to “off.” With quicker response time comes much less movement blur and fewer artifacts (supply materials however).

OLED, with its smaller diodes working as single pixels, merely blows QLED out of the water by way of response time. The diodes in QLED TVs will not be solely slower, however in addition they sit behind the LCD panel and illuminate clusters of pixels, not particular person ones. This causes an total slower change between “on” and “off” states. In actual fact, OLED presently presents the quickest response time of any TV know-how in use right now, making it a transparent winner on this regard.

That stated, Samsung outfitted all its 2018 QLED televisions with assist for variable refresh fee, which ought to drastically enhance efficiency for these taking part in multiplayer video games with unreliable body charges.

Winner: OLED

Enter lag

As for enter lag, LG has significantly improved its OLED TVs on this space, making them an actual possibility for players who play aggressive multiplayer titles, and Sony’s aren’t far behind (hovering round 30 milliseconds). We do know that OLEDs aren’t an inherently unhealthy alternative for players, however which fashions may have the least enter lag stays to be seen.

It’s additionally onerous to rank OLED in opposition to its QLED competitors as a result of the enter lag on QLED TVs varies so tremendously from mannequin to mannequin. Suffice it to say that OLED is actually an possibility for players, and we’re to see how they carry out transferring ahead.

Winner: Draw

Viewing angles

OLED, once more, is the winner right here. With QLED screens, the perfect viewing angle is lifeless middle, and the image high quality diminishes in each colour and distinction the additional you progress aspect to aspect, or up and down. Whereas the severity differs between fashions, it’s at all times noticeable. LG produces a kind of LCD panel generally known as IPS which has higher off-angle efficiency than VA-type LCD panels, however it’s nonetheless no competitors for OLED know-how, and normally suffers relating to black ranges. Samsung’s highest-end QLED TVs characteristic up to date panel design and anti-reflective coating, which make off-angle viewing a lot much less of a difficulty. Whereas OLED nonetheless beats these fashions out ultimately, the hole is closing rapidly.

QLED vs. OLED Wealthy Shibley

Sony XBR-A1E 4K HDR OLED TV (Picture: Wealthy Shibley/Digital Tendencies)

OLED screens might be considered with no luminance degradation at drastic viewing angles — as much as 84 levels. Some QLED TVs have improved by way of viewing angle, and (as talked about) Samsung’s anti-reflective layer helps a ton right here, however OLED maintains a bonus.

Winner: OLED


OLEDs have come a great distance on this class. When the tech was nonetheless nascent, OLED screens maxed out at 55 inches. At the moment, an 88-inch OLED is offered. With that stated, there are fewer limitations on LCD show sizes, with QLED rising as massive as 100 inches and past. At CES 2019, LG confirmed off an 88-inch 8K OLED which is predicted to come back to market this yr, whereas Samsung has an 85-inch 8K QLED TV on the market now. For most folk (and budgets), this isn’t a big benefit, however technically talking, QLED has a slight edge at current.

Winner: QLED


LG says you’d have to observe its OLED TVs 5 hours per day for 54 years earlier than they fell to 50 p.c brightness. Whether or not that’s true stays to be seen, as OLED TVs have solely been out within the wild since 2013. For that motive — and that motive solely — we’ll award this class to QLED. It pays to have a confirmed observe report.

Winner (for now): QLED

Display screen burn-in

We embody this part begrudgingly, each as a result of burn-in is a misnomer (that’s simply an aggravation) and, for most folk, the impact won’t be a difficulty.

The impact we’ve come to know as burn-in stems from the times of the boxy CRT TV, when the extended show of a static picture would trigger that picture to seem to “burn” into the display screen. What was really happening was the phosphors that coated the again of the TV display screen would glow for prolonged intervals of time with none relaxation, inflicting them to wear down and create the looks of a burned-in picture. We predict this must be known as “burn out,” however we digress.

QLED TVs aren’t prone to burn-in.

The identical subject is at play with OLED TVs as a result of the compounds that gentle up do degrade over time. For those who burn a pixel lengthy and onerous sufficient, you’ll trigger it to dim prematurely and forward of the remainder of the pixels, making a darkish impression. Nonetheless, in actuality, this isn’t very prone to trigger an issue for many viewers — you could basically abuse the TV deliberately to be able to obtain this outcome. Even the “bug” (brand graphic) that sure channels use disappears usually sufficient or is made clear in order to keep away from inflicting burn-in points. You’d have to observe ESPN all day each day (for a lot of days) on the brightest potential setting to trigger an issue, and even then it nonetheless isn’t very seemingly.

That stated, the potential is there, and it must be famous. Players particularly who depart their TV on whereas a static picture stays on-screen, or who play for 10 hours a day for a lot of weeks at a time might probably trigger some “burn-in” on an OLED TV. We might advocate for a shift in habits (perhaps go exterior every now and then and switch off that TV if you do?). However, since QLED TVs aren’t prone to burn-in, they win this combat by technicality.

Winner: QLED

Energy consumption

OLED panels are extraordinarily skinny and require no backlight. As such, OLED TV’s are usually lighter in weight than QLED TVs and thinner. Additionally they require much less energy, making them extra environment friendly.

Winner: OLED


As you’ve in all probability ascertained by now, LG makes OLED TV panels, however different producers take these panels and put them of their televisions. Because of this, completely different OLED TVs have vastly completely different working programs and options, so we will’t actually touch upon accessibility or usability with out going one-by-one.

Nonetheless, we can say and not using a shadow of a doubt that Samsung has made its TVs — together with, in fact, the QLED household — fairly easy to arrange and use. As long as you’ve bought Samsung’s SmartThings app, newer fashions will robotically draw info out of your smartphone, permitting them to obtain all of your streaming apps and log you in with a single faucet (they’ll do the identical for Wi-Fi).

That’s not all — Samsung’s gapless mount system and Invisible One Join field make mounting a QLED and hiding cables shockingly easy. Samsung’s Tizen OS is snappy and straightforward to handle, too.

Winner: QLED


As soon as upon a time, this class can be handily received by QLED TVs, however OLED TVs have come down in value, and since we’re speaking all-premium right here, comparable QLED TVs value about the identical (or extra). The worth class merely isn’t a consideration on this specific combat.

Winner: Draw


We’ve got a winner!

QLED comes out on prime by only a hair due to a number of benefits together with brightness functionality, accessibility, dimension, and lifespan, and with latest tweaks, black ranges and off-angle viewing have additionally improved. For a lot of, a QLED TV will make extra sense than OLED since QLED shows will supply a punchier image throughout daylight.

When pitting QLED vs. OLED by way of straight-up image high quality, nevertheless, OLED is the clear winner, despite the fact that QLED represents a big development over the LED TVs of previous. OLED presents the perfect viewing angle, the perfect black ranges, higher distinction, and can also be lighter, thinner, and makes use of much less vitality. Particularly when the lights go down, OLED is a extra engaging alternative.

As such, you’ll need to determine which TV is best for you, and both of those applied sciences are prone to be main steps up in image high quality and total efficiency for many of us.

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