We don’t blame you if you think that QLED and OLED TVs are almost the same things. After all, it is only a letter of the difference! But don’t be fooled: that letter represents a considerable gap. What do they mean? And why should you care when buying a TV? Next, we will explain all the differences between QLED and OLED TVs.
The first thing: OLED is similar to QLED in that it is based on an LED screen, although the internal composition is somewhat different: QLED TVs work with quantum dots illuminated by a bright LED behind them, in circumstances that OLEDs are made up of millions of individual organic and light-emitting diodes. That said, both technologies deliver fantastic results, although the QLED sticks out a bit more.
Table of Contents
1. What is QLED TVs?
QLED stands for Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diode, for its acronym in English. In non-geeky parlance, that means a QLED TV is just like a regular LED, except it uses tiny nanoparticles called quantum dots for brightness and color.
Sony initially introduced the technology in 2013. Still, soon after, Samsung started selling its QLED TVs and established a licensing partnership with other manufacturers, so now we see various brands offering them.
Despite how cool quantum dots are, a QLED TV still produces light in much the same way as a regular LED, using a backlight made up of hundreds (or in some cases thousands) of LED lights, which are behind an LCD panel.
The is essentially made up of millions of small shutters that open and close quickly, and that, together with the color filters, create the image you see, letting just the right amount of light and color reach your eyes.
It’s a smart system, but it relies on a combination of dimming the LED backlights and using the shutters to block out the remaining light to produce blacks on the screen.
There are QLED TVs made by Sony, Samsung, Hisense, Vizio, and TCL.
2. What is OLED TVs?
OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode, for its acronym in English. Surprisingly, the “light-emitting diode” part has nothing to do with an LED backlight like QLED and LED TVs. Instead, it means that each pixel on an OLED TV is also a tiny little LED light, but incredibly thin and capable of producing color and light in the single element.
The OLED TVs don’t need a backlight because each pixel produces its light. There are more advantages to this design, but most will agree that the most significant benefit is the excellent black level when it comes to OLED TVs. Unlike QLEDs or LEDs that dim your backlight and block out what’s left for dark scenes, an OLED turns off the pixel.
When the pixel is off, it doesn’t emit light or color, making it dark enough. It is also easier to create a flexible OLED screen, which is why LG, one of the pioneers, has developed several televisions that roll up to disappear completely.
Currently, only one company makes OLED TV panels: LG Display. It sells them to its sister company, LG Electronics, which uses them to build some of the best televisions you can buy.
But LG Display also markets them to Sony, Philips, and Panasonic, so you’ll see OLED TVs from these brands too. Although the panels are nearly identical, image processing varies by company so that you will notice significant image quality differences.
3. What About Mini-LEDs?
In late 2019, TCL began selling Series 8, the first QLED televisions powered by a mini-LED backlight system . Mini-LEDs are small compared to regular LEDs.
This means that a QLED TV that can typically only accommodate hundreds of LEDs can now accommodate tens of thousands of mini-LEDs. The result? More control over the backlight leads to black levels that are much closer to OLED than any other screen.
Mini-LED technology is still in its infancy, but if TCL and other companies continue to improve (which they will undoubtedly do), the technology has the potential to enhance QLED image quality at a price point that should be considerably less than OLEDs.
4. QLED vs. OLED
The QLED and OLED technologies compete in terms of contrast, viewing angle, brightness, and other performance considerations.
a. Black levels
A screen’s ability to produce deep, dark blacks is possibly the most critical factor in achieving superior image quality. Deeper blacks color allows for a higher level of contrast and richer colors and produces more realistic images. When it comes to deeper black levels, OLED reigns as the undisputed champion.
QLED TVs improve the LED screen’s black-level performance but still rely on backlights shining behind an LCD panel. Even with advanced dimming technology – which selectively dims LEDs that don’t need to be on at full power – QLED TVs still suffer from an effect called “light bleed”: the backlight is filtered it’s supposed to be—a black section of the display.
An OLED pixel does not receive electricity; it does not produce any light and is, therefore, totally black. It seems like a clear choice for users.
The QLED TVs have an advantage when it comes to brightness capability. LED TVs were already good at getting too bright, but quantum dots’ addition allows them to be even more brilliant.
The QLED TVs claim superior “color volume,” meaning they can make all colors in the available spectrum without losing color saturation.
The QLED TV manufacturers also claim that they are better for HDR content because spectral reflections in images – like the glare of light reflecting off a lake or a shiny car – are more powerful and visible.
However, when it comes to the HDR TVs, a lot can be said about the overall contrast offered by the black levels of an OLED TV. When you start from perfect black, the difference requires less intense brightness in the highlighted areas for HDR programming, and the result for the viewer is similar to that of a much brighter QLED TV, at least in a dark room.
In rooms with high ambient light, the brightness advantage of a QLED can go a long way in delivering that big visual punch that HDR (High Dynamic Range) content should offer.
Samsung’s flagship TV models in 2018, the Q9 and Q8, added full-array local dimming, which only adds to the company’s advantage in terms of peak luminance.
A new anti-reflective coating and other panel improvements have also reduced the complaint of halo or blooming effect TVs. Brightness without some of the downsides of LEDs? Excellent idea.
3. Color Space
OLED used to dominate this category, but quantum dots, by improving the backlight’s purity, have enabled QLED TVs to increase color accuracy, brightness, and color volume.
Samsung has implemented expanded color volume on its 2018 QLED models, improving saturation at higher brightness levels, but we don’t have enough evidence to declare it as the winner.
4. Response Time
The response time refers to the period it takes for each diode to change from “on” to “off.” There are less movement and fewer artifacts.
5. Late Entry
In terms of input lag, LG has dramatically improved its OLED TVs in this area, making them a real choice for gamers playing competitive multiplayer titles. Sony’s are not far behind. We already know that OLEDs are not the wrong choice for gamers, but it is still difficult to define which models will have the least input lag.
It’s also challenging to rank OLED against its QLED competition because the input lag on QLED TVs varies significantly from model to model.
6. View From Angles
OLED, again, is the winner here. With QLED displays, the best viewing angle is at dead center, and image quality decreases – in both color and contrast – the more you move from side to side, or up and down views.
OLED displays can be viewed without luminance degradation at extreme viewing up to 84 degrees. Some QLED TVs are highly improved in viewing angles, but OLED still holds a more advantage.
7. TV Size
The OLED technology was still nascent, OLED displays maxed out at 55, 65, 88 inches, and more are available. There are fewer limitations on LCD sizes, with QLEDs reaching more than 100 inches. Technically, QLED is a clear winner.
8. Life Expectancy
LG says that you would have to watch OLED TVs five hours a day for 54 years before they drop to 50 percent in brightness. We still cannot know if that is true, since we remember that OLED TVs only came on the market in 2013. For that reason, and for that reason alone, we will award this category to QLED, since they are the only ones with a proven track record.
9. Screen Burned
First, you must know that screen burn is caused by television exposure to static images for an extended period.
The effect we have come to know as burned outcomes from the days of a square CRT television when prolonged viewing of a static image causes that image to appear “burned” on the screen.
What was happening was that the matches that covered the back of the TV screen would glow for long periods without any break, causing them to wear off and create the appearance of a burned-out image.
10. QLED TVs are not susceptible to screen burn
The same problem is at play with OLED TVs because the compounds that light up degrade over time. If you burn a pixel long and robust enough, it will fade prematurely and ahead of the pixels’ rest, creating a dark impression.
However, this is unlikely to cause a problem for most viewers in reality, as you would have to abuse TV to achieve this result intentionally.
Even the “bug” (the graphic with the logo) that specific channels use disappears often enough to avoid causing burn-in problems. It must be accounted for. In particular, gamers who leave their television on while a static image remains on the screen, or who play games for 10 hours a day for many weeks at a time, could cause some “burnout” on an OLED television.
The QLED TVs are not capable of screening burn, and for that reason, they win the contest in this area.
11. Energy Consumption
OLED panels are fragile and do not require backlighting. As such, OLED TVs are thinner and lighter than QLED TVs. They also need less energy, making them more efficient.
As you’ve likely figured out already, LG makes OLED TV panels, but other manufacturers take those panels and put them on their TVs. As a result, different OLED TVs have very different operating systems and features, so we can’t comment on accessibility or usability without going one by one.
However, we can assure you that Samsung has made its televisions, including, of course, the QLED family, relatively easy to set up and use. As long as you have Samsung’s SmartThings app, newer models will automatically get information from your smartphone, allowing them to download all of your streaming apps and sign up with a single tap (they’ll do the same with Wi-Fi).
That’s not all: Samsung’s seamless mounting system and Invisible One Connect box make mounting a QLED and hiding cables surprisingly simple. Samsung’s Tizen operating system is also handy and easy to manage feature.
The OLED TVs have come down in price, and since we are talking about high a superior quality, comparable QLED TVs come to cost more or less the same. Between OLED and QLED, the price category – is not a consideration in this dispute.
Still, for the time being, QLED TVs enjoy a slight price advantage, which may be why Samsung sold twice as many QLED TVs as the OLEDs that LG did in 2019.
Both technologies are impressive in their way, but since we’re here to pick a winner, for the moment, it’s OLED. Performing better in the categories most will notice while watching TV shows and movies, you can buy the best picture quality.
On paper, QLED appears at the top, delivering higher brightness, longer lifespan, larger screen sizes, and lower prices. On the other hand, OLED has a better viewing angle, deeper black levels, uses less power, and could be better for your health.
However, both technologies are fantastic, so choosing between them can be a bit more subjective: QLED is the best in all respects, but OLED excels if you can control your room’s lighting.
Still, you can’t go wrong either… until the next generation of display technology arrives. The Mini-LED, for example, seems a promising way for QLED TVs offers better black levels.