OLED TVs and QLED TVs: which should you choose?

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OLED TVs and QLED TVs generally occupy the top spot in premium TV comparaisons. Abyssal blacks are characteristic of OLED TVs, while QLED TVs offer very high peak brightness. The two technologies are sometimes confused, but there are fundamental differences between the two that influence the image seen be the viewer: you!

When choosing between an OLED or QLED TV, it is good to know the advantages of each of these display technologies to select the one best suited to your needs.

LG OLED TVs (here the LG OLED65C1) are among the best in terms of picture quality with intense blacks, excellent contrast and accurate colors.

OLED & QLED: how do they work?

OLED

An OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) is an electronic component capable of producing light using an organic compound that lights up when an electric current flows through it. The panel of an OLED TV has several million of them. Each pixel is actually made up of 4 subpixels (one Red, one Green, one Blue and one White) which are each materialized by an OLED that emits its own light. These are called auto-emissive pixels.

A film transistor that transmits an electrical current to turn each individual subpixel on and off covers both sides of the OLED panel (the film on the front is transparent). This design, which does not require any backlighting, makes it possible to produce ultra-thin and very light OLED panels.

LCD LED and QLED TV screens, on the other hand, consist of an LED backlight system, several filters and a monochrome LCD matrix with pixels that can be made opaque to allow more or less light to pass through.

Discover all the potential of OLED TVs

QLED

A QLED television is an LCD TV equipped with a LED backlight system combined with a quantum dot filter that is inserted between the backlight and the LCD panel. This quantum dot filter utilizes the optical properties of cadmium selenide nanocrystals. The nanocrystals emit a light whose wavelength (therefore color) is defined by their shape and size when subjected to a light source.

The quantum box filter of QLED televisions is calibrated to enhance the purity and luminosity of red and green, the Achilles’ heel of LCD TVs with standard backlighting. The colors generated are more intense and higher brightness peaks are possible.

Quantum Dot filter

OLED advantages and disadvantages

True blacks = perfect contrast

Because every pixel in an OLED television generates its own light, a true black dot is created when a pixel is turned off, unlike LCD technology where residual light can pass through an opaque pixel. OLED TVs display true blacks and offer more variations of brightness in the darker areas of the image. The image contrast is the main beneficiary, with stunningly realistic HDR images. This is even more obvious when the room is dark: blacks are actually black and not dark gray or faded.

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The large Panasonic TX-65JZ2000E TV adopts a state-of-the-art 4K Ultra HD OLED display with a diagonal of 164 cm calibrated by professional colorists. The main benefit is a better display quality of HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content, with the added bonus of HDR10+ Adaptive and Dolby Vision IQ compatibility, two processes that adapt the HDR display according to the ambient brightness.

Almost instant response time

Latency is the time that it takes for a pixel to go from black to white and back to black again. High latency can generate artifacts (motion blur, ghosting and jitter). OLED TVs have a response time of 0.1 ms, compared to 2 to 5 ms for the best QLED TVs. Consequently, OLED technology displays smoother images and provides better definition on moving images, without any blurring. This is particularly important when watching sport on TV.

Wide viewing angles

OLED technology allows very wide viewing angles. With an OLED television, it doesn’t matter whether the viewer is seated opposite the screen, to the side, or if they are higher or lower, they benefit from the same image quality, with no loss of brightness or color alteration.

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The highlight of this Sony XR-65A80J (2021) TV is its advanced video processing performed by the Sony Cognitive Processor XR image processor, which is used throughout the Sony XR 2021 TV range.

Lower brightness peaks

Although OLED is capable of providing true blacks, it is more limited than QLED in terms of maximum image brightness. Except for a few very high-end models such as the Panasonic GZ2000s, which can reach almost 1000 nits, most OLED TVs peak somewhere between 700 and 800 nits. QLED TVs on the other hand can reach 2000 nits and even 4000 nits for high-end models. With HDR content, OLED technology is therefore somewhat disadvantaged when it comes to highlights. Ideally, an OLED TV should be installed in a room that isn’t too bright.

Reflections on the screen

To maintain their brightness and contrast, OLED TVs aren’t equipped with an anti-reflective filter and have a shiny screen. This isn’t a problem when watching a movie in a dark or dimly lit room, but it can be an obstacle in bright rooms or if the TV is placed opposite a window, which will be reflected on the screen.

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The shiny coating on OLED TV panels can sometimes cause more unwanted reflections than QLED TVs equipped with an anti-reflection filter.

Now a wide choice of screen sizes

The high cost and technical restrictions of OLED panel production limit the number of different screen sizes available. Until 2019, only OLED televisions with a diameter of 55” (139cm), 65” (164cm) and 77” (195cm) were available. It wasn’t until 2020 that an OLED TV with a diameter of 48” (122cm) was produced by LG (the LG OLED48A1). Very large sizes (2 meters and more) are also gradually being introduced with very large 83″ (2.1m) and 88″ (2.22m) OLED TVs: LG OLED83C1, Sony XR-83A90J and LG OLED88Z1.

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The LG OLED48CX was the first OLED television measuring less than 55” (139cm) to be released. In 2021, it was replaced by the LG OLED48A1 and LG OLED48C1.

QLED advantages/disadvantages

Very high brightness peaks

With brightness peaks typically exceeding 1000 nits, QLED TVs are particularly good at displaying HDR images with high contrast. They offer a lot of variation in brightness, even in the middle of the day in a brightly lit room.

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The large Samsung QE65QN95A Neo QLED TV adopts a high-performance mini-LED backlight system. Evenly distributed across the back of the TV’s LCD panel, these mini LEDs guarantee high brightness (peaks at 2000 nits) and excellent contrast management.

Effective anti-reflective filters

The high brightness of QLED televisions means that they can be equipped with a very effective anti-reflective filter without fear of losing too much luminous intensity. QLED TVs are therefore less affected by glare on the screen when watching a show in the middle of the day in a well-lit room.

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The anti-reflective filter on Samsung OLED TVs (here the Samsung QE65Q95T) is the most powerful on the market.

More choice in screen sizes

As QLED TVs use LCD panels, which are available in many different sizes, there is a lot more choice when it comes to screen dimensions, with models ranging from 43” (108cm) to 85” (214cm).

Colors that can sometimes be too vivid

This is often the drawback to using quantum dot filters and sometimes perfectible screen calibration. Colors are too saturated and can even be garish, with images that don’t look natural. This flaw isn’t as frequent on most high-end models and can be corrected with a custom setting or by using the television’s Cinema mode, which is usually more accurately calibrated than the standard mode. The Filmmaker mode is another solution when watching compatible movies that provides colors and calibration that are true to the director’s vision.

Blacks that aren’t always true blacks

LCD display technology that requires backlighting can sometimes suffer from residual light leakage. The light generated by the LEDs behind the LCD panel can bleed into or be filtered through an opaque pixel. This makes it very difficult if not impossible to achieve true blacks. While the blacks of a QLED TV may seem very deep during the day, as soon as you watch a program in the dark, the blacks are at best a very dark gray.

The importance of backlighting

Like classic LCD LED TVs, QLED TVs require a backlighting system to work. The quality and working principle of this system directly impacts the image quality. The best system remains Direct LED or Full LED backlighting (a multitude of diodes distributed across the back of the display) which provides the possibility of modulating the luminosity (dimming) and controlling the backlighting of individual zones (local dimming).

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Full HD backlighting with local dimming allows you to precisely control the brightness of each area of the image.

QLED TVs with Edge LED backlighting or no local dimming provide inferior contrast and may suffer from blooming around bright objects and subtitles.

Why choose an OLED TV?

Cinematographic atmosphere with movies and series

OLED TVs are sought after by movie lovers because of their true blacks that allow them to produce images with excellent contrast, especially when watching programs in the dark or in a dimly lit room.

Despite a lower peak brightness than QLED TVs, OLED TVs are also recommended for watching HDR content as they provide great legibility during dark scenes. In addition, the moderate brightness peaks of OLED TVs are actually an advantage when watching content in the evening or at night. The experience is more comfortable and the highlights are less dazzling than with a QLED TV.

Sport

Sports fans will be delighted by the responsiveness of OLED TVs, which follow the players’ every movement on the pitch without any jitter and provide realistic colors (grass on football pitches, the clay court at Roland Garros, the color of the jerseys and the landscapes during the Tour de France…).

Video games

Finally, gamers can now consider using a G-Sync/FreeSync compatible OLED TV, as the input lag on some models is as good as that of Samsung QLED televisions. You just have to be careful to avoid screen burn-in by varying the types of games played and by not leaving the OLED screen on 24/7 so that the data of the HUD doesn’t leave marks.

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Most LG 2020/2021 OLED televisions are compatible with G-Sync to match the refresh rate of the graphics card of the console or computer.

Why choose a QLED TV?

Watching TV shows, movies and series during the day

QLED TVs are particularly suitable for watching TV shows, movies and series (including HDR) when the room isn’t dark or dimly lit. Their high peak brightness and the generally very effective anti-reflective filter allow you to enjoy nuanced and highly legible images, even in a room that is bathed in summer sunlight.

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QLED TVs (here the Samsung QE65Q80A) are very versatile and allow you to enjoy a bright and nicely contrasted image in the middle of the day.

Video games

Another advantage of QLED TVs, especially models from Samsung, is their very low input lag which makes them particularly suitable for video games. Gamers should therefore opt for a QLED TV, even though OLED TVs have made a lot of progress in this respect.

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Thanks to their very low input lag, Samsung QLED TVs are perfect for playing video games and boast an almost instant display response.

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