LED, OLED, QD-OLED: making sense of the TV display technology alphabet jumble
It’s easy to get lost in the fog of abbreviations when you’re shopping for a TV, so we’re here to unscramble and decipher all those letters to help you find the system to fit your needs. When choosing your new TV, consider how you’re going to use it. If your TV is being used to entertain people in a busy and bright environment — a kitchen, for example — you’ll want a different set than one you’ll primarily use for gaming. Choosing a TV to watch films in your living room presents different priorities than one chosen to play a YouTube video of birds in a garden to entertain your cat while you’re out.
Different display types — the technology powering your model — will give different viewing experiences. Selecting the right one will get you the best experience for your money.
What is an LED TV?
Light Emitting Diode
Probably the most common display technology is the LED TV. Technically, it’s an LCD (liquid crystal display) screen that is backlit by LEDs so you can see the picture. These models provide a good viewing experience without a lot of bulk or weight. They are available at all price points, from basic budget models to high-end sets packed with additional features. Due to their widespread popularity, these displays are often easy to source, and the high image refresh rate makes LED TVs a popular choice with gamers. LED TVs come in a wide variety of sizes, and thanks to their wide availability, can fit most spaces in your home. LEDs offer some of the brightest screens on the market and some offer a wide viewing angle with little colour alteration and aren’t very dependent on their surrounding environment for their more limited, but effective, colour accuracy and contrast. LED TVs do tend to be heavier and thicker than many of the other sets on the market, but are still wall mountable.
What is OLED?
Organic Light Emitting Diode
OLED devices do not have a backlight, but instead use individual light emitting diodes that produce a particular colour of light when met with an electric current. This more precise and exact method of light control allows OLED devices to create deep, immersive blacks by switching pixels off entirely. The lack of a backlight allows OLED televisions to be thinner and lighter than other contemporary technologies. If you are looking for a TV that will be the star of your home cinema, an OLED TV might be the right option for you. Vibrant, accurate colours and true blacks provide a great picture. However, OLEDs don’t tend to get as bright as LED sets. If you’re watching in a room with a lot of light, an LED TV may be the better choice. If you can control the lighting well and you want that extra precision for a premium picture, an OLED TV is a great option. Keep in mind that OLEDs tend to enter on the higher side of the price spectrum compared to similarly sized LED TVs, though mid-priced OLEDs are beginning to enter the market.
What do all those Qs mean? QLED, QNED, and QD-OLED
QLED, QNED, and QD-OLED sets all use quantum dots. Quantum dots enhance the display by emitting more colour. In a QLED or QNED set, an LED backlight shines through the regular pixel layer, and then a layer of quantum dots, which emits more colour than a regular LED set. Think of them as enhanced LED sets. This makes them excellent in environments where you want a bright picture because the surrounding light can’t be controlled, such as a room with lots of windows or with strong lighting.
QNED models use a combination of quantum dot and nanocell technology with mini-LED backlighting. Utilising tens of thousands of LEDs and thousands of dimming zones, QNED models can achieve brighter images than regular LED TVs, reducing reflections on the screen and providing excellent colour contrast. If you’re watching a lot of HDR content in a room that gets some light, a QNED device is a great choice.
A QD-OLED is an enhancement of OLED display technology. It uses quantum dots that emit colour when they receive an electrical signal instead of relying on a backlight. QD-OLED sets can do all the great stuff that OLEDs can – vibrant colours and true, deep blacks – but can also get brighter than OLEDs. This means you have more options of where to place the set and still get a great picture.
Sets with quantum dots really do deliver an improved picture, but they tend to come with higher price tags than regular LED sets. If you’re on a budget or looking for a secondary set, perhaps for your kitchen or bedroom, an LED can still be a good choice. You can still get great pictures regardless of the set you choose, especially if you pick one enabled with Dolby Vision.
What’s the difference between Dolby Vision and HDR10?
Dolby Vision and HDR10 are the two leading HDR formats. HDR means ‘high dynamic range’. The dynamic range is the difference between the darkest part of a picture and the brightest part. The predecessor of HDR was ‘standard dynamic range’, or SDR. HDR improves on SDR by providing greater contrast— allowing a bigger difference between the bright bits and the dark bits in the same scene — higher peak brightness, and a more expansive colour range, creating a more immersive viewing experience. It aims to make bright colours brighter and dark colours darker without losing any detail.
HDR10 is the standard used in all 4K UHD TVs. Its static metadata sets an average HDR value for an entire film or TV episode, altering the display settings based on that average. This static metadata can alter the viewing experience, as the data is drawn from only two points, the brightest frames and the darkest frames. Content which may typically have a darker tone with sudden points of brightness, such as a gritty action film with explosions or a space thriller, may find the HDR settings are too high, losing shadow depth and deep blacks to compensate for brief bright flashes later in the film or episode.
Dolby Vision uses dynamic scene-by-scene metadata to control HDR settings, automatically adjusting your set as each scene changes. Dolby Vision keeps pace with the story on screen and optimises the device’s HDR settings for each view. Dolby Vision lets content creators to explore more of the colour palette HDR has to offer rather than being constrained by static metadata. The result is a stunning range of mind-popping colour.
HDR10+ is another version of HDR that uses dynamic metadata, currently, supported by fewer devices and content. All devices that can support Dolby Vision can also support HDR10, and further support HLG, which adds HDR to content from broadcast television, such as sporting events.
What kind of TV do I need for watching content in Dolby Vision?
Dolby Vision is included in TVs from a range of suppliers and platforms, including Hisense, LG, Panasonic, Philips, Sharp, Sony, TCL, and Toshiba. Whether you’re a cinephile who needs the deep blacks and accurate colour of an OLED model, or you want the adaptability and power of a QLED or QNED model, so long as the model has the Dolby Vision badge you can enjoy content in Dolby Vision’s stunning dynamic contrast and true-to-life detail. If you want to create a full immersive experience, you can pair Dolby Vision with Dolby Atmos immersive audio.
Can Dolby Vision support gaming?
Dolby Vision is the highest-quality HDR format for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S delivering low latency and crystal-clear graphics across enabled titles. Dolby Vision’s higher contrast and mind-popping colour reveals finer details across hundreds of HDR-ready titles including award-winning hits like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Better still, Dolby Vision can improve and refine any game which is HDR-capable, allowing you to revisit old favourites and experience them at the next level.
That clears up a lot, doesn’t it? Now we’ve waved away the fog, and armed with this guide, head over to our interactive home setup guide to learn more, or check out the available models here to make the best choice for your needs.