OLED vs QLED vs LED TV – What are The Differences and Which is The Best Choice?
When we shopping for a TV, there are three major panel technologies we found, OLED, QLED and LED. Usually, we found OLED TV on premium model of LG TVs, Sony, and some others, QLED TV on premium model of Samsung TVs, and LED on most TVs which available in the market. OLED and QLED TV usually has an expensive price while the price of LED TV depends on the features and technology that offered. Before we determine which is better between them it will be better if we know first about each of these panel technologies.
The display technology that used by LED TVs is actually almost the same to what used by a traditional LCD TV. LED stands for “Light Emitting Diode while LCD stands for “Liquid Crystal Diode”. When LED TV is first launched, most people are often fooled with this term. Most people thought that this is a concept competition. Actually, LED TVs and LCD TVs use the same concept. They both use the same display technologies. The difference is about the light source that used for illuminating the display. LCD TVs are illuminated by a fluorescent lamp while LED TVs are illuminated by LEDs (Light Emitting Diode). In addition to require a bigger energy, all pixels are illuminated by one piece lamp source where it is usually installed at the edge of the panel. This makes brightness produced are uniform and contrast of images produced are relatively low.
Instead of fluorescent lamp, LED TVs use an array of LED as the light source. One of the major advantage of LED than fluorescent lamp, it requires much smaller energy. There are two concepts that used for installing LEDs on the display. The first, like on LCD TV, array of LEDs are installed on the edge of the panel and this concept is called “Edge-Lit LED” backlight. This concept is more common and mostly found in middle to lower class TV. Like on LCD TV, the brightness produced by LED TV with Edge-Lit backlight usually is uniform and native contrast ratio produced is low. But on its development, a piece of an array LEDS are divided in to some parts where each of parts can switch on/off individually. This concept is called Edge Lit with local dimming. The second concept, array of LEDs is directly installed behind the display and this concept is called Direct LED backlight. On its development, this is divided into some cluster where each cluster can switch on/off individually. And this concept is called “Full Array Local Dimming” where each of their cluster is called dimming zones. A LED TV with full array local dimming usually has stronger contrast ratio than others and the more dimming zones it has, the contrast ratio produced usually is higher that certainly makes black level produced is deeper.
QLED is the marketing language that used by Samsung to rival OLED TV. It is actually based on conventional LED panel. The difference than conventional LED TV, it uses a quantum dot filter color technology that allows it can produce outstanding color gamut. Just like a conventional LED TVs, there is QLED TVs which use Edge Light with local dimming and also Full Array Local Dimming. Actually, this technology is not owned by Samsung. LG and some other manufacturers also have some models which use quantum dot panel technology. But unlike Samsung that named their TVs that use quantum dot panel with QLED TV, LG only names their color technology with Nano Cell Display.
OLED TV stands for “Organic Light Emitting Diode”. The concept that use by OLED TV is much different to LED TV. Simply, if on LED TV, the LED TV is only functioned as the light source to illuminate all pixels LCD display, in an OLED TV, they also act as the pixels. This means, each pixel of OLED TVs can switch on/off or dim individually without affected by the light condition of other pixel surrounding. The result, it can produce infinite contrast ratio and perfect black. When they are showing black, there is not light emitted at all. OLED TV may be able to produce much deeper black level than LED TVs, but it cannot produce the luminosity as bright as LED TV.
OLED vs QLED vs LED TV Performance
Black Level and Contrast
Since OLED TVs has self-lighting pixel, this makes all models of OLED TVs has infinite contrast and black level that certainly also makes them have excellent black uniformity. When showing black, there is no light emit at all in black parts of images. This certainly makes its performance in a dark room is really excellent. On the other hand, since QLED panel is based on VA panel, all models of QLED TV like Samsung Q6FN, Q7FN, Q8FN, Q9FN, and others also have high native contrast ratio that certainly makes them can produce deep black. Nevertheless, this also depends on the performance of the local dimming behind them. The better performance of their local dimming, black level produced usually will be deeper. Meanwhile, about performance of LED TVs in producing black level, this depends on the panel technology that used. For an LED TV with VA panel like Sony X900F, Samsung NU8000, or others, their performance is not far different to QLED TVs that also uses VA panel. While for an LED TV with IPS panel like LG SK9000, SK9500, Sony x850F and others, they usually have low native contrast ratio that certainly makes it cannot produce deep black. Keep in mind, since it cannot produce deep black, a TV with IPS panel is not suitable when used in a dark room.
Side Viewing Angle
In addition they can produce perfect black level, all models of OLED TVs also has excellent side viewing angle coverage. This certainly makes the picture displayed on their screen still look accurate even though viewed from the side. Meanwhile, since QLED TVs are based on VA panel technology and as is typical of VA panel, the side viewing angle of QLED TVs is also poor that certainly makes the picture displayed on its screen looks less accurate when viewed from the side. And for LED TV, this also depends on the panel technology that used. For LED TVs with VA panel, it also has poor side viewing angle coverage. While for LED TVs with IPS panel, it usually has better viewing angle coverage than VA TVs but is still worse than OLED TV. If you often watch TV with a group of your family who sit on the wide seating, QLED TV or LED TV with VA panel may be not suitable for you.
Winner: OLED TV
Color Gamut and Color Volume
The most major improvement that offered by QLED TV is about its color performance. This makes them can produce excellent color gamut and color volume. And for this now, there are no TVs that can match the color saturation level produced by QLED TV. Nevertheless, although not as good as QLED TVs, color gamut and color volume produced by OLED TVs is only a bit worse than QLED TVs. While on LED TVs, this depends on each of their class. Some mid-upper model of LED TVs like Sony X9000, LG SK9500, or Samsung NU8000, they also can produce wide color gamut. Nevertheless, of course, their color gamut and volume is not as good as QLED TV or OLED TVs.
Winner: QLED TV
When we discuss about the luminosity of the TV, this has to do with the limitation of power. The brighter luminosity a TV reaches, this will consume more power. And for this case, the manufactures design their TVs in such away in order to they can reach the brightest luminosity while a reasonable draw of electricity is still maintained. So, for maintaining the draw of electricity in order to still reasonable, a TV usually reduces their brightness level when they have to show bright large window sizes or bright scene. As the example, OLED TV has a featured called ABL (Automatic Bright Limiter) that reduce their peak brightness when they are showing all screen is bright. This certainly makes its peak brightness when showing an entirely bright scene is dimmer than when showing small highlight.
And discussing about each of their performance, for this case, LED TV or QLED TV is winner. At this now, there is no OLED TV that can reach peak brightness more than 1000 nits while you will find some LED TVs that able to reach peak brightness more than 1000 nits like Samsung Q8FN, Q9FN, or Sony Z9D.
Performance of a TV in handling motion blur is highly dependent on the pixel response time of their display. The lower pixel response time of the panel, the motion blur will be more minimized. And as the comparison, the pixel response time of all models of OLED TVs is about 0.1 ms while on LED or QLED TV, their pixel response time is higher than 1 ms or even higher than 10 ms. This certainly makes motion looks very much smoother on the screen of OLED TV than LED TV or QLED TV. Nevertheless, motion blur is not caused by pixel response time only. There is also blur that caused by 60 fps persistence. And for this case, this also depends on the BFI (black frame insertion) feature of each TV.
Winner: OLED TV
Image retention (called burn-in if it is permanent) is a static images that still visible or retained on the screen after it is displaying an image for an extended period. Once the image retention occurs, this will be noticeable especially after change of content. On the new content, you will see imprinted image as faint remnant of old content. For this case, OLED TV still has a risk to temporary image retention or even permanent burn-in. To overcome this issue, OLED TV usually has feature called “Pixel Refresher” for eliminating image retention once it occurs. Nevertheless, to avoid this problem occurs, you should not use it to watch static images for extended period like play the same game over longtime. Meanwhile, QLED or LED TV doesn’t have a risk of temporarily image retention or permanent burn-in.
Winner: LED/QLED TV
As we have discussed a lot above, OLED TV trumps LED/QLED TVs in almost aspects. It has infinite contrast ratio and perfect black level that makes it is perfect when used in a dark room. Additionally, it also superior in viewing angle coverage, makes it is also better when used in a wide room with a lot of viewers watch TV from multiple angles. Not only that, its better pixel response time also makes motion looks smoother on its screen than on LED or QLED TVs. On the other hand, QLED TVs trumps TVs with other panel technology in color performance. And QLED/LED TV is also superior in brightness level and image retention.
So, which is better between OLED, QLED, or LED TV? This certainly depends on your needs and budget. If you have extra budget, OLED TV may be a better choice due it trumps other models in almost every aspects. But as we know, its price is relatively more expensive than LED/QLED TV. Meanwhile, if you want a TV with excellent color performance, QLED TV is the best for you. In addition it has excellent color performance, some models like Samsung Q9FN and Q8FN also has excellent peak brightness. But even so, if your budget is limited, LED TVs is also not a bad choice. Sony X900F, Samsung NU8000, or other models also has great performance for each of their price range.