Which is better OLED vs QLED TV?
- By: Ashley Saunders
- May 2021
Every week there seems to be a new TV technology acronym! At the premium end of the TV market, two technologies stand out: OLED and QLED. But is it better to have an OLED vs QLED TV?
We live in the golden age of TV technology with 4K quality content available across a wide range of topics from sport, TV and films. Maybe streaming services offer 4K as standard including watch Netflix and Prime Video (FREE 30-day trial).
Many have moved on to 8K as they wish to remain at forefront of technology. Not to mention HDR TV formats that are also widely available.
With limitless content at your fingertips, all available in high definition, regardless of what you feel like watching, you can experience as if you were there.
You might be confused by the chatter surrounding OLED vs QLED TV as both are premium technologies and so it’s easy to assume they are equal. Without a clear definition of each type, buying a new TV can prove tricky.
Let’s explore each technology in-depth as well as the difference between them and help you decide which offers the best possible picture for you.
What is OLED?
OLED or Organic light emitting diodes are made using organic materials. In an OLED TV, the pixels work independently and individually light up based on when they need to be used.
As they have no backlight, OLED TVs create deeper blacks that are not jeopardised by a light shining from behind the screen. HDR is also supported.
As pixels act individually and quickly react, even during fast-moving scenes, there’s minimal blurring between frames and offer a super faster refresh rate of 0.001ms.
Since OLED screens don’t have a backlight, they are the thinnest TV sets on the market yet offer larger viewing angles than other technologies. Also with no backlight, they use much less power.
That not to say OLED TVs aren’t without their disadvantages. Due to the technology, OLEDs are quite expensive to produce. Thankfully, prices are softening as LG (which is the only producer of OLED panels for TVs) has begun to sell panels to other manufacturers including Sony, Panasonic and Philips.
By opening up the market in this way, there is more choice and a greater price range. However, compared to LCD models, they do tend to be more expensive.
It was impossible to find smaller sized OLED TVs as, until last year, the technology wasn’t available in screen smaller than 55 inches. Thankfully, 2020 saw LG launch the 48-inch OLED48CX. However, due to the low number produced, they aren’t that much cheaper than buying a 55-inch TV.
There’s chatter that 42-inch OLED TVs are coming soon and that these will be produced in greater volume, which should result in a more affordable price point. That said, we’ll have to wait and see when models start hitting the market.
Unlike QLED screens which are super bright, OLEDs struggle to reach the same peak brightness with some models producing under half on comparison. However, the deep blacks create an exceptional overall contrast, which compensates in part for the reduction in brightness.
Most OLED panel due to their organic nature are susceptible to image retention and even burn-in, just like the now ancient plasma TVs! And while this isn’t a widespread or even a common problem, manufacturers feel the need to warn customers and build in features that reduce the risk.
What is QLED?
Quantum dot light emitting diode or QLED TVs use Quantum dots to create a broad colour spectrum. The technology is designed to mimic the colour and brightness experienced in real life. As with OLED technology, each pixel emits lights independently of each others.
Samsung is yet to offer an OLED TV, in steady they prefer to build screens with this rival technology. But that’s not to say when comparing OLED vs QLED TV that Quantum dots are better.
Using an LED backlight, QLED TVs deliver 100% colour volume, enabling the screen to maintain colour accuracy across the spectrum from the darkest blacks to the brightest whites. They offer the highest peak brightness and so deliver rich, highly accurate HDR pictures.
QLED TVs have been designed for use in all lighting conditions with technology to help absorb or redirect external light to reduce the reflections. Plus they typically come with a 10-year screen burn warranty.
Unlike OLED that are available in a limited range of screen sizes, you can find QLED TVs in variety of screen sizes between 32 and 98-inch.
There is a little dirty secret with QLED TV that you might have spotted. As they use a backlight, the quantum dots do not emit light. Instead, the light from a backlight passed through them, just like an LCD layer does on standard LCD/LED TVs.
While this does improve colour vibrancy, it isn’t as game-changing as Samsung suggests and results in slower refresh rate. Many have concluded that OLED offers a distinctive advantage over QLED even when weighing the loss of brightness.
Samsung has therefore tried to increase the contrast of its QLED models by re-engineering the LED backlights to mini LED backlights. Named Neo QLED TVs, these premium models such as the QE65QN95A, create greater contrast by increasing the number of independent dimming zones.
These Neo QLEDs are a step towards TVs that combine the brightness and longevity of backlit sets with the contrast of OLED.
That said, it does appear that true QLED TVs that use photo-luminescent quantum dots which operate independently are still very much in the future. Samsung most recent releases have been focused on 8K QLEDs that utilise the next-gen version of their micro LED technology.
Only time will tell if Samsung will give in and launch a range of OLED screens using LG technology, marking a sizeable u-turn over their vocal opposition to the technology.
OLED vs QLED TV: Your best option
If you’re looking to buy a new TV today and struggling to choose between an OLED vs QLED TV, then you’ll have to comprise as the ultimate TV doesn’t yet exist.
While Samsung continues to work on self-emissive quantum dots and Micro LEDs technologies, this will take years to make it to market and even longer for the price to be affordable for the majority of consumers.
Some are pinning their hopes on the forth-coming combination, simply known as QD-OLED TVs. These promise the best of both technologies, thus removing the need to compare OLED vs QLED TVs. Our minds will be made up when these TVs are available and not based on marketing hype.
Comparing existing models
Comparing the current options, Samsung’s QLEDs deliver a brighter and punchier picture than OLED TVs. That said, while not as bright, OLED TVs offer a better colour contrast and wider viewing angles.
But this is only part of the puzzle as the processor used by the TV set is almost as important. If you were to compare OLED TVs from Sony, Panasonic and LG, they would all perform differently. One brand might offer richer colours, another could handle motion more smoothly.
The same is true for all of Samsung’s QLEDs. Each model has its own particular quirks and positives. So, you’ll want to compare models based on real-world experiences and not solely on technical information.
Don’t buy without testing models in person
So it’s essential if you’re looking at buying a TV that you experiment with different models and brands, and don’t settle on the first unit you see. Rather than comparing OLED vs QLED TVs, look for the best TV for your budget based on your gut feeling and real-world comparison.