If you are shopping for high-end 4K TVs, then a single letter can mean a hell and heaven difference between what you see. We are talking about OLED and QLED TVs, which have become popular all over the world from brands like LG and Samsung.
Naturally, there's a lot of confusion and questions about these new TV technologies. For starters, which technology is better? Do they provide the same picture quality? Should you buy an OLED TV or go for a QLED?
For all those confused souls, we have made an effort to summarize both the technologies and provide a breakdown. You will get all your questions answered, and by the end of this post, you will be able to make an informed decision.
So first, let's find out a bit more about both technologies.
What is QLED TV?
QLED is more of a rebranding approach from Samsung. The company suddenly changed the name of its SUHD TVs to QLED after its flagship product failed to take off. QLED stands for Quantum-dot Light Emitting Diode and has a lot of differences from OLED.
In fact, QLED TVs are much closer to LCD TVs in terms of technology. The only thing making it different is the concept of quantum dots. So what are quantum dots?
Quantum dots are a form of nano-crystals that improve brightness and color performance. Samsung has used a quantum dot color filter and placed it in front of a traditional LCD backlight. When light from the LCD hits the quantum dots, they emit colors of a specific bandwidth.
The light emitted from the quantum dot also passes through various layers to reach the screen and produce the image. For this reason, QLED is called "transmissive" technology as the light transmits through various layers to the screen's surface. Unlike OLED, the dots don't emit their own light.
Samsung has used quantum dots on its LCD TVs since 2015. It was only in 2017 that the company started using the QLED branding. Some other companies like Vizio and TCL also use quantum dots in LCD TVs.
What is OLED TV?
Compared to QLED, OLED can be termed as a completely new technology. The key differentiator between the two TV technology is the "self-emissive" pixels or pixels that emit their own light.
OLED refers to Organic Light Emitting Diode and takes the help of a carbon-based film placed between two conductors. When you pass an electric current through the film, it produces its own light. For this reason, blacks appear far more realistic compared to QLED as the pixels get turned off completely.
You don't have any light interfering from the LCD and creating a gray effect like in the case of QLED TVs.
Various brands like Sony, LG, Panasonic, and Philips sell OLED TVs in different countries.
QLED Vs. OLED: Picture Quality
Now let's find out how the two technologies fare when we assess them on various picture quality metrics.
Resolution, Color and Video Processing
Both OLED and QLED are available in 4K resolution and can also support 8K. Apart from resolution, other aspects like color and video processing are almost similar in both technologies.
Contrast and Black Levels
OLED trumps QLED in contrast and black levels. The reason is also quite simple- OLED is able to turn off the pixels completely for optimum black levels. For the same reason, it can also offer literally infinite contrast.
On the other hand, QLED still lets out some of the LED light even in the best models that use full-array local dimming. As a result, you will see a washed-out effect with black portions resembling a gray tinge.
QLED screen is brighter than OLED. The reason is the separate backlights or LEDs that can be made as bright as you wish, just by increasing the light. Add to that the quantum dot's ability to maximize light- and you have a super bright display!
A QLED TV offers more visibility, even in brightly-lit conditions like a room full of sunlight.
OLED was the unbeaten champion in this category for quite some time. But after brands started using quantum dots, QLED has also improved a lot in respect to color volume, color brightness, and color accuracy. Samsung has always claimed that its QLED TVs offer a wide range of enhanced-saturated colors at the highest brightness levels.
But this advantage doesn't really create much difference under normal viewing conditions. So you may find it difficult to spot any differences.
QLED TVs provide the best picture if you sit right in front of the screen, at the center. The picture quality reduces once you move back or left or right from the sweet spot. That's why LCD panels and QLED will have some parts of the screen brighter when viewed from different angles.
OLED TVs are free from this problem. You can view them from any angle you wish (up to 84-degrees) without encountering any luminance degradation.
You will only get four sizes of OLED TV right now- 55-inches, 65-inches, 77-inches and 88-inches. On the other hand, you can get multiple sizes of QLED TVs from brands like Samsung- from 43-inches to staggering 98-inches!
That being said, big-sized QLED TVs can be more affordable than OLED TVs. For instance, Samsung's 75-inch Q70 QLED is priced at $2,200 while the LG 77-inch OLED TV costs $6,500.
Going by the situation, OLED TVs offer a better viewing experience compared to current QLED TVs. But things may change in the future with companies like Samsung working on a new QLED technology that uses the quantum dots as the light source.
Before that, we will get to see the MicroLED TVs, another technology backed by Samsung that uses millions of minuscule LEDs as pixels.