OLED vs QLED: the battle of the TV tech titans

OLED against QLED? Bio or quantum? It's easy to get confused with technical vocabulary, but do not be fooled: The rivalry between OLED and QLED is becoming a key issue for premium TV buyers today – though both OLED and QLED are facing the TV market by their arrival have surprised.

Technically, OLED displays have rapidly gained prominence as a successor to plasma TV in recent years, thanks to the support of LG, Panasonic, Sony and Hisense – and some truly outstanding choices that guarantee their own best OLED TV guide.

By contrast, QLED televisions came out of nowhere in 2017 – technically a trademark of Samsung's SUHD television series – but now account for a large proportion of Samsung televisions.

But is QLED technology the pinnacle of current TV technology, as many claim, or is it just becoming an advertising campaign? Is competing OLED technology, supported by almost all other TV brands, really the real deal?

If you hate acronyms and do not know how to choose between them, you need to know about QLED and OLED TV technologies – what they are, how they differ, and what brands they support.

Sony A1E OLED (Credit: Sony)

What is OLED?

OLED pros and cons

Lighter and thinner (2.57 mm)
Self-luminous pixels
More convincing blacks
Faster update rate (0.001 ms)
Smooth and out of focus

Limited screen sizes: 55, 65, 77 inches (now 88 inches)
Dampened Brightness (1,000 Nits)

The struggle between QLED and OLED can best be summed up in one sentence: QLED is a misnomer of improvements to existing LCD technology, while OLED is a completely different technology.

The key phrase here is "self-emissive". OLED – which stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode – uses a carbon-based film between two conductors that emits its own light when electrical current is passed through.

Since the pixels themselves generate the light, they are completely turned off when they need to be black. This means there's no great LCD backlighting, remarkably realistic blacks, so-called infinite contrast, lightning-fast refresh rates, and subdued brightness that's ideal for movies – when it's bad for LED standards. When you see an OLED TV for the first time, you have the rare feeling of having just experienced something very special.

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In recent years OLED has been limited to a few TV sizes, given that it has a smaller manufacturing footprint compared to LED, although LG has now expanded to include an 88-inch LG 8K OLED and plans to develop 48-inch panels Give viewers a wider choice of OLED sizes.

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Sony has also opted for OLED.

Sony has also opted for OLED.

What is QLED?

QLED pros and cons

Ingenious white
Ultrahigh (2,000 Nits)
Different screen sizes between 49 and 88 inches

Not so slim (25.4 mm)
Overly bright
Less convincing blacks
Slower refresh rate

QLED is not a new TV technology, but a rebranding. Until last year, Samsung named its flagship SUHD, but that did not fly, so it's now QLED. Yes, it sounds very, very similar to OLED, suggesting that it may either cloud the TV buyers' minds or create an inferiority complex. Or both. In fact, QLED – which stands for Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diode – is very different from OLED.

The strangest thing is that QLED TVs are not QLED TVs. A QLED television should be like an OLED TV with a self-emitting panel to turn individual pixels on and off. Samsung's QLED TVs can not do that, and in fact they just put a quantum dot color filter in front of an LCD backlight. It is premature to refer to them as QLEDs, and they should actually be called QLCD LEDs. Luckily, not even the acronymy TV industry could live with it.

The inorganic quantum dot LEDs in a QLED panel do not emit their own light, but are illuminated by a backlight as with any LCD TV. That's why they are not as thin as OLED televisions.

So it's not really a next-generation display technology, it's just an evolution of LCD TV technology. That does not mean it's not impressive – it's really good.

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Samsung Q90 QLED

Samsung launches the Q90 QLED in 2019 (picture credits: Samsung)

Which brands support OLED & QLED?

The fight between OLED and QLED is about branding and a South Korean rivalry. Every single OLED panel in each OLED TV is made by LG Displays, and every single QLED panel is made by Samsung.

Team OLED:

Most TV brands are behind OLED and believe that this is the superior technology for image quality. It's hard to argue, but despite LG, Sony, Panasonic, TP-Vision (under the Philips brand in the UK), Loewe, Bang & Olufsen, Skyworth and ChangHong, who are all now selling OLED TVs, they are usually very expensive. The manufacturer LG Display just can not produce enough OLED panels fast enough to introduce them at a lower cost, which makes OLED TVs look just like premium premium TV technology.

Team QLED:

Samsung ceased its efforts to produce OLED TVs in 2014 due to its low production yield and did not return to QLED until 2017. Now an attempt is being made to publicize the technology by involving other companies.

Although the brands behind QLED are less, they are quickly unionized. Samsung, Hisense and TCL have joined forces in 2017 as part of the QLED Alliance to drive QLED development – and move more QLED devices to the world's largest television market, China.

In OLED displays, Panasonic has doubled in 2019 with four new models.

In OLED displays, Panasonic has doubled in 2019 with four new models.

(Picture credits: Panasonic)

Should I buy a QLED TV or an OLED TV?

If you are looking for a high-quality 55-inch TV, buy an OLED TV because both technologies are the same price at this size. However, if you have something else in mind – a smaller screen size and / or a smaller budget to play with – this is more complicated.

Since LG Displays manufactures all OLEDs and Samsung all QLEDs, one might think that one can draw great conclusions about which technology is better for games, for example, and which is better for films. That's not the case. As with all consumer electronics products, it depends on (a) how much you spend and (b) which brand you choose.

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Samsung's flagship QLED is that Samsung Q900R 8K QLED TVwhile the LG E8 OLED OLEDs best praise virtues. Take a look at our reviews on these two sets if you want to see the best the two technologies have to offer.

Nothing is brighter than a Samsung QLED. (Credit: Samsung)

Nothing is brighter than a Samsung QLED. (Credit: Samsung)

The future for OLED & "real" QLED

If you are looking for the best picture quality, the advice is simple. Buy an OLED TV. However, it is a very tight affair, and moreover, this situation may not last long, as so-called QLED televisions may soon turn off the LCD backlighting to get the actual QLED technology … and thus the connection to OLED create. Keyword & # 39; true & # 39; QLED.

"True QLED sets, like OLED sets, are self-emitting and not yet on the market, but are expected to be in the coming years," said David Tett, Market Analyst Futuresource Consulting, "When it's released, it's likely to be the biggest challenge for OLED because it offers many of the same benefits as OLED with few potential disadvantages."

So-called "real" QLED TVs that emit themselves should be received by Samsung in 2020, if not later. Self-emitting – just like OLED televisions can turn pixels on and off individually – "true" QLED televisions should retain their brightness advantage. Samsung could even compete with an OLED QLED hybrid if recent reports give reason.

If the future for QLED is promising, those who stand behind OLED panels hope that one of the native features of the technology, flexibility, wins the day. "OLEDs can offer new audio solutions that allow the panel to vibrate to produce sound, and they can also provide new form factors, both because of the flexibility of the panel," says Tett. Nowhere is this clearer than LG's incoming OL-R, the LG Signature Series OLED R, which can roll into the base of the TV.

Currently it is OLED that carries the crown for the best and most expensive TV technology in the market. If LG Display can not dramatically increase production rates and create more screen sizes, the immediate future of mainstream TV could continue to be QLED.

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