The differences between LED, OLED and QLED: the comparison of the characteristics of TV screens

When preparing to purchase a new television, many people are confused by the apparently incomprehensible technical data sheets that concern this type of device. There are many, for example, who ignore it characteristics and differences between LED, OLED and QLED screens and this leads them to make purchases that are not very careful or, in any case, not fully aware. In this article we will illustrate the difference between TV panels made with these three different technologies.

How OLED screens work

As can be guessed from their acronym, LED, OLED and QLED are similar but different technologies. Starting from the basics, LEDs (Light-Emitting Diode) and the light-emitting diode technology and refers to the way in which the panel backlight of a screen (of a TV, but by extension of any other device equipped with a screen made with this technology). In LED panels, backlighting is used to reproduce colors on the screen.

Televisions with “standard” LED screens, compared to the much more advanced OLED and QLED, present substantial differences both in the number of LEDs available and in the quality of each of the light-emitting diodes present in the panel itself and this affects the final rendering of the image reproduced on the screen and perceived by the user (but we will return to this shortly).

LEDs, as you might imagine, are present in both OLED and QLED technology, but with some differences in the way they are used. To go into more detail, the screens OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode), which in Italian stands for organic light-emitting diode, they manage to reproduce not only colors (like LED panels), but also the backlight itself. In essence, each pixel is equipped with an autonomous source of lightwhich makes it possible to turn it off completely when it is necessary to reproduce the black color, as there is no separate backlight source.

Detail of the pixels of an OLED screen. Credits: TECH EDU, CC BY–SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

How QLED screens work

THE QLED (Quantum Light-Emitting Diode), which in Italian stands for quantum light-emitting diode), are part of a patent filed by the manufacturer Samsung way back in 2013 and exploit the so-called high luminance “quantum dot”.. What are quantum dots (or, in Italian, quantum dots)? Essentially they are extremely small particles capable of emitting intense fluorescence, which gives greater brilliance to the images reproduced on screens based on this technology. In essence, therefore, QLED panels are “evolved” LCD panels that have LED backlighting. This is placed along the panel or, in some cases, along the edges of the screen (usually to obtain ultra-thin screens). Quantum dots have been added to the LED backlight. When one of these is hit by light, it lights up, reproducing more realistic colors.

The differences between LED, OLED and QLED

In light of the characteristics of LED, OLED and QLED panels, therefore, we try to answer the “question of questions”: Which technology is better? The answer is “it depends”. The best approach to finding an answer that is comprehensive for your needs is to examine the aspects that you consider most important when purchasing a TV and make a decision based on these. Below we list some of them.

  1. Color: OLED and QLED displays guarantee much better color accuracy than “basic” LED panels. In particular, QLED panels excel in faithful color reproduction, due to quantum dot LED backlighting.
  2. Brightness: LED panels, by entrusting the main backlighting to large and powerful LEDs, manage to emit a very intense brightness. This also applies to QLED panels, the brightness improves further as the size of the individual quantum dots decreases. Even if OLEDs do not boast similar characteristics, we must not conclude that they are less “valuable” than LED and QLED panels given that, being able to count on deep and absolute black intensities (due to the physical switching off of the individual pixels), they are still capable to generate more marked contrasts between light and dark.
  3. Black: as just mentioned in the previous point, OLEDs are the masters here, managing to reproduce absolute blacks. LED and QLED screens, not being able to turn off individual pixels, produce more “gray” blacks, which could present a sort of “haze” and a reduction in the quality of the image reproduced on the screen.
  4. Viewing Angle: the OLED panel is the one that offers better image quality even when you watch the TV from the side, unlike other technologies which are characterized by a loss in the final image rendering when you move away from the center of the panel and you move to a side viewing angle.