QLED vs. LED: How Do These Displays Compare?

Couple watching TV

QLED vs. LED: How Do These Displays Compare?

Key Points

  • With technical advancement, our experience of viewing has changed. TVs are adapting to the changed need for providing better graphics.
  • LED or light emitting diode is a technology that produces light through heat produced by electrical impulses, this technology was adapted onto televisions in the early 2000s.
  • The QLED technology, which produces better brightness and precise colors, is a technology developed by Samsung.

At one time, LED TVs represented the pinnacle of innovation in television technology.

Compared to LCD, they produced a much better picture, were more energy efficient, and allowed for thinner, more durable designs. Of course, LED was not perfect, no technology ever is. TV makers are constantly improving on technology to give viewers the best possible picture. Samsung’s improvement came in the form of QLED.

Ultimately, QLED is a better technology than LED. That said, LED still has its uses, and while QLED is an improvement, it may not be the improvement you need.

We’re going to dive into both of these technologies to figure out their differences so you can decide which one is best for you.

QLED vs. LED: A Side-by-Side Comparison

What is it?Quantum dot technologyTraditional light emitting diode
Color AccuracyExcellent color accuracyDecent color accuracy
Contrast & BrightnessHigh contrast and brightnessMid-range contrast and brightness
Good for Gaming?Not great for gamingGreat for gaming
Power NeedsConsumes a lot of powerEnergy-efficient
AffordabilityExpensiveMore affordable

QLED vs. LED: What’s the Difference?

To understand how these two are different, you should know how they are similar. QLED doesn’t exist without LED technology. As such, we should start with a definition of both.

What is LED?

TVs can be incredibly confusing to learn about. Over the years, marketing terms have been used left and right to make slight improvements to TVs sound like major improvements. This is the case with LED. LED stands for light-emitting diode, which is the base technology of most TVs you see today.

LEDs are actually built on LCD technology with some key differences. The most important difference is their backlighting. LCD TVs traditionally use fluorescent backlighting or CCFLs. This backlighting is then filtered through several layers of polarizers and the liquid crystal layer that gives LCD its name (liquid crystal display).

The use of fluorescent lights was eventually abandoned for LEDs. Swapping these lighting options made for huge improvements. LED TVs have better picture quality, last longer, and are more energy-efficient. But, at their core, they technically still use LCD technology, although it’s greatly improved.

To confuse things even further, there are two types of LED backlighting: edge lighting and full-array backlighting.

LED TVs have a better picture quality and are more energy-efficient.

©Ruslan Ivantsov/Shutterstock.com

LED Types

With edge lighting, LED lights are placed on the edges of the screen.

They can be placed on the top, bottom, corners, or sides. In fact, the placement of LED lights has led some companies to use marketing terms like Samsung’s “Infinite Array” to describe their proprietary process. The placement of LED lights can determine brightness and picture quality. While you can find decent LED TVs with this technology, it is not the norm.

Full-array backlighting is much more common in most LED TVs you can find today. This type of LED backlighting swaps the CCFL backlighting for an LED light panel. The vast majority of LED TVs on the market are made with Full-array Backlighting. It gives you a consistently better picture and is more energy efficient. The only place you won’t see full-array backlighting is in super slim TVs; edge lighting better allows for slimmer frames.

What is QLED?

The Q in QLED stands for quantum-dot, which is its major difference from LED.

Traditional LED TVs have some issues with color accuracy and black levels. QLED is Samsung’s answer to these issues.

In QLED TVs, you will normally find the same full-array LED backlighting as traditional LEDs. But, with QLED TVs, Samsung has added a quantum-dot layer of illumination. This acts as a small layer of particles in front of the backlight which fixes some of the issues of traditional LED.

QLED TVs have more accurate colors than LEDs. The layer of quantum particles emits extra light that multiplies the number of colors being produced. It also gives TVs deeper black levels. This gives QLED TVs a high-contrast ratio, resulting in a richer picture.

Above anything, though, is the brightness level that QLED TVs are capable of. Brightness is important because it allows for a clearer, more detailed picture.

Samsung QLED TV
QLED TVs are a proprietary product of Samsung, so you can only get QLED TVs from Samsung, but these TVs are certainly designed with the cinephile in mind.


QLED vs. LED: Which is better?

In terms of picture quality, there is no contest. QLED offers a higher color accuracy, richer contrast, and better brightness.

So, QLED is the winner you should never buy an LED again, right? Well, not so much.

While QLED gives you a better picture, there are some serious drawbacks that you will want to consider when making a purchase. Let’s run through some of the benefits and drawbacks of QLED.

QLED Benefits

We’ve already mentioned that QLED will give you a better picture a few times now, but what are the specifics? Why is the picture quality on a QLED better than LED?

Now, we know that QLED is more color-accurate but what does that mean? Well, the picture on the screen is made of thousands upon thousands of pixels, each representing a color. Color accuracy refers to how close the color gets to the original output. QLED expands the number of colors and shades that are possible on your TV. In a nutshell, it has more colors, more accurate pixels, and more true colors.

The lack of image retention is also a point in QLED’s favor. Traditional LEDs are more at risk of this because they have fewer layers of polarization. That means that pixels are staying on-screen for longer, which can cause an artifact called ghosting. Ever feel like you’re seeing double when looking at your TV? That’s probably ghosting.

Drawbacks of QLED

Picture quality is pretty important, but it isn’t the only thing that matters. In order to get the kind of picture quality that QLED does, it makes some sacrifices.

QLED isn’t really the best choice for gaming. This is because QLED has some issues dealing with motion blur. QLED TVs just aren’t very good at handling fast-moving images, which is a problem for gamers. Fans of Fortnite, Call of Duty, or any fast-paced video game will not be well served by QLED.

Energy efficiency is also probably better on traditional LEDs. This can change according to the make and model of LED TV but, for the most part, LEDs consume less power. QLEDs are very bright, which makes for a great picture, not so much for a great energy bill.

Finally, and arguably most importantly, QLED TVs are expensive, typically starting at around $2,000. While there are traditional LEDs that can certainly climb up in price, most are much more forgiving for your wallet. You can reasonably assume you’ll find the same size in LED for much cheaper than QLED.

QLED vs LED: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • QLED is an improvement of LED technology. QLED TVs have better color accuracy, contrast, and brightness, resulting in altogether better picture quality.
  • QLED is often more expensive than LED and consumes more energy.
  • LEDs are made by every major TV manufacturer, while QLED is Samsung’s exclusive technology.
  • LED TVs offer a wider viewing angle than QLED TVs.
  • QLED TVs are not as well-suited for gaming.

QLED vs. LED: Which is Better?

Whether you buy a QLED or not shouldn’t be predicated solely on picture quality. QLEDs have stunning pictures and, for cinephiles or gearheads that want to push the limit of their picture, QLEDs offer a lot of value. But, while they are an improvement on LED, remember that a lot of the acronyms and upgrades are still built with LED technology at the core.

LED TVs don’t have as good picture quality as a lot of the newer brands out there. Things like QLED and OLED are not just new technologies–they are also marketing terms. It is important to weigh the benefits of QLED against the drawbacks and, like with most technology, there is a place for both.

So, if you want some of the best picture quality that money can buy, go with QLED. You won’t be disappointed. Remember that just because QLED is one of the hottest things right now, doesn’t mean LED is a thing of the past. We’re all for pushing the boundaries of tech, but sometimes the classics really are the best option.

Next Up…

QLED vs. LED: How Do These Displays Compare? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Which is better: QLED or LED?

QLED has the better picture quality, hands down. While this is a major selling point, that doesn’t mean that LED is out of the game just yet.

LED has a much wider viewing angle, is typically better for gaming, and is more energy-efficient. In terms of picture quality, QLED takes the cake, but LED is still very much worth consideration.

Is QLED worth the price over LED?

To get one of the most stunning TVs money can buy, yes, it is worth it. There are a few drawbacks like energy efficiency and motion blur, but for pure cinephiles, this TV is amazing.

Can you tell the difference between LED and QLED?

Yes, very much so. For one, QLED is much brighter and clearer than typical LED TVs. It also has richer colors and deeper blacks which makes for a more vibrant, beautiful image.

Does QLED last longer than LED?

It’s a pretty close race. QLEDs consume more power than LEDs. Plus, if maximum brightness is left on for long periods, it can impact the life of QLED TVs. That said, if you are careful with your QLED, it should give you just as many viewing hours as a traditional LED.

What's so special about QLED?

The Q stands for quantum-dot. This refers to a layer of very small particles that are added to the traditional LED process. This additional layer is what gives QLED TVs their rich color and deep black levels. The technology is proprietary to Samsung as well, so you can only get QLED with Samsung TVs.

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