So you want to know what are the differences between QLED vs OLED. Last year Samsung renamed its quantum dot televisions as QLED. Some may say that QLED is very similar to OLED but the two technologies are completely different. But what are the differences, which one is better and which one should you buy?
This is a difficult question to answer succinctly, especially as Samsung is launching a new range of QLED TVs in 2018 that promise to correct the flaws of last year's models. At first glance they look better than even the best OLED TVs but which one to choose between QLED vs OLED.
Let's start with OLED. Represents an organic light emitting diode. OLED TVs are emissive, which means that each pixel emits its own light. If a pixel is off, it emits no light and is therefore black. This is why OLED TVs can offer their "infinite" contrast ratios and why their blacks are very deep.
So called LED TVs are actually LCD TVs. Years ago, the first flat screens that used LCD technology had fluorescent tubes behind them to provide light. Because they consumed a lot, they were gradually replaced by smaller, cheaper and more energy efficient LEDs.
QLED vs OLED what's the difference and why is it important ...
However, the LCD technology that creates the image you see has remained pretty much the same. The pixels don't emit any light, so the LEDs are lit from behind or from the side so you can see the image, kind of like shining a flashlight through a piece of paper. And that's why some TVs are called "LED backlit" and "edge-lit LED".
Most LCD TVs are edge-lit, and this includes Samsung's QLED TVs from last year. The Q, as you can imagine, stands for Quantum dot. So what is the quantum dot?
It's a bit like OLED, where tiny molecules (quantum dots) emit colored light when light is reflected off them. These quantum dots are contained in a film that forms just one of the many layers that make up a QLED TV. Others include a prism sheet that helps improve viewing angles, diffuser sheets, and polarizers.
In short, a QLED TV is an LCD TV with an added quantum dot level that improves brightness and color over “standard” LED LCD TVs. The current brightest models can go up to around 1400 nits - the average peaks of the LCD TV are 300-400 nits.
Both acronyms - OLED and QLED - are essentially terms that span variations of the technology. Not all OLED TVs are identical in their architecture and neither are QLED TVs, although QLED is more of a marketing term.
Is QLED better than OLED?
Looking at older TVs from 2017, the answer is no. One of the drawbacks of OLED is that it is not as bright as the brighter LED TVs. Manufacturers are chasing higher and higher brightness, so their TVs can produce more contrast and therefore a better image when playing HDR video, but another benefit of Samsung's QLED technology is better colors.
Samsung calls this '100% color volume', but it simply means more saturation (which means more vivid colors).
The problem with using edge lighting when increasing the brightness to 1000 or even 2000 lits is that you end up with unwanted effects like halo. This is where light from bright areas scatters into dark areas rather than a sharp edge.
A good example is a candle flame on a black background. This isn't a problem for OLED TVs, as each pixel creates its own light.
For LED TVs, especially those with side lighting, it is difficult to control the light shining through each pixel. Local dimming is possible with edge-lit displays, but is easier when you have an LED grid behind the entire panel.
For 2018, at least some Samsung QLED TVs will use backlighting and have hundreds of "zones" that can be turned off. They will also have additional layers to control and minimize internal light loss, as well as software support that will determine where the bright areas are and darken that area to avoid the halo.
So which technology should I choose?
This is the hard part. We have yet to test the 2018 models, so we still don't know what we will be offered. And it's not just about the image quality, but also about the price, software features, aesthetics etc.
Both types of TVs are still very expensive, which means you should see the TVs before spending thousands. Suffice it to say that OLED is the technology to go for if you are more concerned about image quality.
But with the latest QLED models released by Samsung, it's possible that the latest OLED TVs are a good deal for the price.
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