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Whether you are celebrating Black Friday this week or not, the competition in the TV market is greater than ever, with quite a few manufacturers competing for a place in your living room with a large and rather confusing variety of more advanced and less or less expensive TV screens. So a second before you click on “Add to cart”, let us give you some order, so you know which screen is more suitable for you among all the different marketing names and technologies.
What is LED?
In the bloody battle between the plasma screens and the LED screens, the latter won. The technology that is based on LCD technology consists – at the tip of the fork – of small lamps, which are controlled by a number of illumination areas. The more illumination areas you have, the more accurate and rich the image should be. If you haven’t upgraded your TV in the last few years, you probably have an LED screen in the living room, so you pretty much know what you’re getting into.
The significant advantage of LEDs (and its appendices, which we will get to) is mainly in brightness. LED screens can reach very high brightness levels throughout the screen, which may lead to a not-so-accurate image, but one that can also be seen at noon in a sunny Israeli living room. And of course we can not forget the fact that this is a relatively cheap technology – and as such it has managed to bring the 4K screens more or less to the living room of us all.
If you are looking to save and want to purchase a new LED screen, there is one question you need to ask the sellers or check the specifications. Where does the lighting system of this screen come from? In this case the screens are divided into two: side array, or rear. In the case of the side lighting array, you will often get a halo effect around bright objects, as the lighting is simply not accurate enough. In the case of a backlight array, the image will be much cleaner and more accurate.
Advantages: brightness, durability, price
Disadvantages: limited number of illumination areas, limited contrast, effects of data loss and other distortions
So what is QLED?
Okay, here we go into the world of the laundry of the tech giants, who really like to give blown up and attractive names, so that you think it’s the top and best technology money can buy right now – when in fact it’s a pretty similar technology. QLED screens are first and foremost LED screens for all intents and purposes, no matter how much the sales rep or banners eat away at you. What makes LED screens QLED is another layer of crystals, which is placed on top of the panel, preventing illumination from flowing from different lighting areas, which should enhance the contrast and colors projected – hence the overall brightness of the screen.
In my experience, yes, QLED screens will usually lead to a better image than classic LED screens. But at least in my opinion, not by a significant margin that it should affect your purchase or make you choose a QLED screen over better technologies. The one that currently uses this term is mainly Samsung (although Sony was the first to use the technology – under the name Triluminos) and Samsung also leads a partnership of manufacturers that use this technology like Hisense and Chinese TCL.
Advantages and disadvantages: Identical to LED
Synonymous Corner: Nano-Cell (by LG)
What is Mini-LED
This is the newest technology among all those that exist in the market. While LED screens come with a relatively limited number of lighting areas, mini-LED screens come with a high number of tiny bulbs (about 1/40 standard standard LED lamps) and with a relatively high number of lighting areas. We have already learned that the more illumination areas there are, the more accurate image you get, and control over the range of colors, among other things. For example, if part of the image you project on the screen is supposed to be black, the high number of lighting areas allows the screen to avoid turning on the “black area” more efficiently than an LED screen, which is reflected in much more accurate and true black colors.
On the other hand, it’s still a kind of LED technology, just a lot better. Which means that it also inherits some of the problems of LED, such as phenomena like Blooming (a kind of aura around bright objects) and a little excessive brightness that at night or in dark rooms may be a little too much for some of you, but very suitable for viewing during the day.
Advantages: more illumination areas, high brightness intensity, high color quality
Disadvantages: more expensive than LED, heat emission, slightly excessive brightness for evening hours, effects of light leakage
Synonymous Corner: QNED (LG), Neo QLED (Samsung)
What is OLED?
If so far we have talked about similar technologies and different improvements, here it is already a completely different technology. In the OLED panel each pixel and pixel is illuminated independently and apart from accuracy in details and colors, it means that if any pixel is supposed to represent the color black, it just does not light up and thus it gets “absolute black” that you keep hearing about in store sales or reading reviews. From my experience and that of many reviewers and reviewers around the world, at least for now, the image you get on OLED screens is the best.
The problem lies in the letter O in OLED, because it represents the word “organic”, and as a result of the fact that it is an organic material, it also suffers from a side effect: burns. What this means is that elements that are displayed for a long time in the same place on the screen, may embed some graphic element (e.g. the computer’s start menu, TV channel logos, HUD in games, etc.) on the screen or simply the same image for a long time. All the companies that use OLED panels claim to have implemented software enhancements that refresh pixels in the background, but what they will not say is that there will always be a risk – and we mention it is a device that costs thousands and tens of thousands of shekels and should stay in your living room for 4-5 years. Although I personally have not encountered the phenomenon yet, but it is something that I also always take into account.
Another problem to consider in OLED screens comes from the brightness levels. While LED screens (and also Mini-LEDs) enjoy high and successful brightness that knows how to handle even daylight, OLED screens suffer from inferiority in brightness levels, and the image in them is slightly darker. It will not bother you in the evening (which is even better), but watching during the day, it will sometimes be difficult to enjoy dark or dark scenes. Despite everything, OLED screens are also currently considered to be the best in terms of image quality and color.
Advantages: Thin panel, excellent contrast, “absolute black”, excellent refresh rate, accurate colors, no light leakage effects
Disadvantages: relatively high price, risk of burns, relatively low brightness
There are no right answers
These are the main technologies that TV makers use. Each of them has advantages and disadvantages, and each of them may be more and less suitable for you, especially when you put the price factor into the picture. The important thing is not to rely only on the image you see in the showroom, the seller’s words or even reviews. All of these can help you make a decision – but our suggestion – do not give up on screen viewing. Check it out for yourself and only then can you make sure that the next screen you buy really suits your needs and will serve you well in the coming years.